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USDEquity Markets

The Daily Fix – US exceptionalism called into question

Chris Weston
It was a day when the US economic exceptionalism theme was called into question, with the US ISM manufacturing report causing some to raise concerns about the trajectory of US growth.
  • A weaker US ISM Manufacturing sees the US growth trajectory called into question
  • A solid rally seen in US Treasuries
  • The USD finds few friends – EURUSD above 1.0900
  • US equity rallies into the close with Nvidia and Apple leading the charge
  • GameStop getting attention from the market and the SEC
  • Asia equity opening calls

The US ISM manufacturing report came in below expectations at 48.7 and while the employment component was a bright spot at 51.1, new orders (printing 45.4) were the weakest since May 2023, while production (at 50.2) came in at the lowest levels since February. In response, we saw the Atlanta Fed Q2 GDP Nowcast model reduced to a run rate of 1.846%, from 2.66%. The manufacturing report has put us on notice that the various employment data points this week, and ISM services could all be genuine market-moving risk events, and the market will likely be sensitive to any downside surprises.

The reaction in the US Treasury market was clear cut, and while we saw buyers going into the ISM manufacturing report, in response yields on the US 10yr fell from 4.45% to a low of 4.39% and are now eyeing a re-test of the 200-day MA at 4.34%. Yields in the 5 to 30-year part of the curve sit 10-11bp lower - so a solid rally on the day with yields settling at session lows, showing a limited appetite to fade the rally. The US 2yr settled -6bp at 4.81%, with swaps pricing an additional 3bp of cuts for the December FOMC meeting and now pricing 39bp of cuts by year-end.

The USD index has followed Treasury yields lower, with the DXY -0.6% and eyeing a test of 104. EURUSD has pushed through the recent supply zone of 1.0880 and holds above 1.0900, with USDJPY looking to take out 156 round number support - an outcome that could see trend support at 154.05 come into play. AUDUSD looks to test the top of its recent range of 0.6700 and I wouldn’t bet against a break here near-term.

The big move came in the MXN, with the peso savaged to the tune of 4%, with rising concerns that the Mareno Party could be on track for a super majority, where the concern is that over the medium term, we could see anti-business policies put in place. I am not sure I’d be chasing USDMXN higher here.

Gold has worked well as a hedge against economic fragility, with the yellow metal hitting a high of $2354 (currently +1%) and eyeing a move into the range highs of $2364. A weaker US JOLTS job openings report (consensus is for 8.35m openings) in the session ahead may see momentum take us there.

Staying in the commodity theme crude has been well traded, and while the market sliced and diced the OPEC+ decision, the sell-down really kicked in an hour before the manufacturing data, with WTI crude falling from $77.20 and through the recent lows of $76.15 – we see the net change -3.6%, with Brent -3.7%.

In US equity, we again saw a solid rebound from session lows into the back half of the cash session, with the S&P500 hitting a low of 5234, before rallying 0.9% to close at 5283. Tech is where the capital has rotated to, as is typically the way when we see signs of economic fragility, backed by buying in healthcare and comms services names. However, it was Nvidia, Meta and Apple that led the charge – Nvidia in beast mode once again, closing +4.9% at $1150, with some 759k call options traded on the day relative to 472k puts. Energy stocks naturally struggled, with the sector closing -2.6% and this will spill over into Asian energy equity plays.

GameStop stole the attention of many, trading into $40.50 on open, although it didn’t stay there long, and a decent fade pulled the stock lower to close to $28.162m shares traded hands, and while cries of “manipulation” from some circles are deafening, and while we await the findings from reports that the SEC’s investigation into trading in GME call options and trades around the time of Keith Gill’s social posts, the other side to this is Gill isn’t doing much differently from what many big names money manager are doing. That is, getting set in a big position and disclosing it for others to piggyback - but in this case, the stock in question has comparatively poor liquidity, half of Reddit are chasing the move, and options market makers are hedging exposures which creates a perpetual gamma squeeze. Either way, he’s a hero to some and a villain to others, which is understandable given he has an edge that is seen as almost free money.  

Our opening calls for Asia equity suggest a slightly weaker open with the ASX200 called -0.1%, while the HK50 and NKY225 are eyed at -0.6%. While we look ahead at US data releases, in Asia today we get the China Caixin PMI data (due 11:45 AEST) and additional partials for tomorrow’s Aussie Q1 GDP calculation, with net exports (as a % of GDP) and inventories due – as well as the Balance of Payments.