Morning Bid: Yen slips anew with Amazon due, Treasury plans irk

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 5:02 AM

A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan

World markets stalled on Tuesday as another heavy earnings week for megacap stocks cranked up, with renewed slippage in Japan’s yen and U.S. Treasuries eyed closely in the background.

Major macro market moves are likely in check for now as the Federal Reserve starts its latest two day policy meeting – with Wall Street also eyeing first quarter results from two more top ten world caps Amazon and Eli Lilly.

News of a larger U.S. Treasury borrowing slate for the coming quarter than previously estimated unnerved the bond market a touch overnight. Blaming lower cash receipts, the government said late Monday it expects to borrow $243 billion in the second quarter – some $41 billion more than it said in January.

But currency markets remained focussed on the fate of the yen as it fell again earlier on Tokyo’s return from Monday’s public holiday – during which suspected official intervention lifted it from a trough of 160 per dollar.

As the Nikkei stock benchmark jumped more than 1% on its return from the long weekend, the Japanese currency weakened almost a full yen from Monday’s New York close to within a whisker of 157 – almost 1% down from levels seen before Friday’s Bank of Japan meeting and despite yesterday’s wild swings.

Without confirming Monday’s intervention, Japan’s top currency diplomat Masato Kanda said on Monday that ‘speculative, rapid and abnormal’ yen moves could not be overlooked and on Tuesday said the authorities were ready to act around the clock.

“We are ready 24 hours, so whether it’s London, New York or Wellington, it doesn’t make a difference,” he told reporters.

Kanda also said finance ministers of Japan, China, South Korea and ASEAN countries will meet on the sidelines of the upcoming Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Whatever the merits or otherwise of the yen’s accelerating fall to 34-year lows for Japan’s own economy, there’s some trepidation that it may upend the competitive landscape across Asia’s major exporting nations and South Korea and others are watching closely.

To that end at least, China continues to hold the yuan relatively stable against the dollar – although its recently buoyant stock markets wobbled a bit again Tuesday after a mixed set of monthly business surveys showed a slowing of activity there in April.

China’s Politburo, a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party, said on Tuesday it will step up its support for the economy, flexibly using policy tools that include banks’ reserve requirement ratios and interest rates.

It also said it would coordinate and improve policies to reduce housing inventories and optimize policy measures for new housing to address the ongoing property sector bust – though the statement seemed to stop short of detailing the sort of major initiatives that markets had speculated about on Monday.

In Europe, the heavy earnings season dominated – but there was some relief that April consumer price inflation readings for the euro zone came in as expected at annual 2.4%, core inflation rates ebbed and flash readings for quarterly growth in the bloc beat forecasts with a 0.3% expansion.

Money markets are more than 70% priced for the first European Central Bank interest rate cut as soon as June and the euro held steady.

That’s despite the contrast with Fed expectations, where futures now don’t fully price a quarter point off rates until after November’s election.

With the Fed kicking off this week’s two-day meeting on Tuesday, it’s widely expected to hold the line again – though there is some focus on whether it will reveal anything on slowing its balance sheet rundown of Treasury holdings.

Irked by the ‘higher for longer’ rates prospect, heavier second-quarter borrowing plans and even the chance Japan may soon be a seller of Treasuries to fund intervention to support the yen, 10-year yields nudged higher again on Tuesday to 4.65%.

In company news, HSBC’s stock rose 2% after Chief Executive Noel Quinn said he plans to step down, marking the surprise departure of a hard-nosed leader who has overseen a raft of asset sales, guided the lender to record profit and lifted its share price.

A former head of the bank’s markets business who was appointed to the No. 2 role over a year ago, Chief Financial Officer Georges Elhedery is likely the leading internal candidate for the job.

Back on Wall Street, Tesla stole the show on Monday as its beaten down shares surged 15.3% after the electric vehicle maker made progress in securing regulatory approval to launch its advanced driver-assistance program in China.

Apple, which reports earnings on Thursday, gained 2.5% following a report the iPhone maker had renewed discussions with OpenAI about using the startup’s generative artificial intelligence technology.

Amazon tops the heavy earnings diary later, with eyes also on Super Micro Computers for a glimpse of what’s happening in the AI world.

Key diary items that may provide direction to U.S. markets later on Tuesday:

* US April consumer confidence, Chicago April PMI business survey, Dallas Fed April service sector survey, US Q1 labor costs, Feb monthly home prices

* Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee starts two-day policy meeting – decision Wednesday

* US corporate earnings: Amazon, Eli Lilly, Super Micro Computers, Advanced Micro Devices, Prudential Financial, PayPal, 3M, Marathon, Mondelez, Coca Cola, Starbucks, Molson Coors, McDonalds, Clorox, Corning, Edison, Eaton, Amcor, Archer Daniels Midland, Stryker, Sysco, Hubbell, Pacar, Skyworks Solutions, Incyte, CentrePoint Energy, Diamondback Energy, Caesars Entertainment, American Tower, Illinois Tool Works, Republic Services, Essex Property Trust, Ecolab, Gartner etc

(By Mike Dolan, editing by Christina Fincher, mike.dolan@thomsonreuters.com)