Morning bid: China trade heats up, UK rates in view

By Thomson Reuters May 9, 2024 | 5:35 AM

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

As Wall Street stalls its recent rally, world markets switched attention to China’s on-off recovery and whether the Bank of England’s latest policy decision on Thursday may signal that it is ready to ease credit as early as next month.

U.S. stock futures as well as Asian and European equities have turned more subdued generally. But Chinese stocks clearly outperformed overnight after news the country’s exports and imports returned to growth in April – stirring hopes that government stimulus measures there may be starting to kick in.

Shipments from China grew 1.5% in the year through last month, while imports for April increased by 8.4%, beating an expected 4.8% rise. Both imports and exports reversed March declines.

The trade numbers add a spur to the global demand outlook at the margin at a tricky time for central banks – nudging oil prices higher again on Thursday alongside data showing a surprise draw on U.S. stockpiles.

But they also likely mask significant upheaval in bilateral trade flows. Reuters’ calculations based on official data from the German statistics office, for example, showed the United States overtook China as Germany’s most important trading partner in the first quarter of this year.

Adding to the Chinese market cheer on Thursday, however, was some loosening of property market curbs. China’s eastern metropolis of Hangzhou said it would lift all home purchase restrictions to shore up its real estate market, raising the prospect of other cities following suit.

The latest development also comes against an intensified tech sector standoff between Washington and Beijing.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Wednesday a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and seizure of chips producer TSMC would be “absolutely devastating” to the American economy. Declining to comment on how or whether it would happen, she told a U.S. House hearing that the United States buys 92% of its leading edge chips from TSMC.

Intel, meanwhile, fell more than 2% on Wednesday after warning of a sales hit from the U.S. revoking some of the chipmaker’s export licences for China.

It has been a bumpy week within the tech sector more generally. Arm Holdings dropped 10% in out-of-hours trade overnight after a full-year revenue forecast missed expectations.

Wall St stock futures were off slightly ahead of Thursday’s open, Treasury yields were a touch higher and the dollar was firmer too.

Wednesday’s 10-year Treasury auction was a little tepid and bond investors now await $25 billion of new 30-year bonds later on Thursday.

Fed officials continue to sound cautious – though downplaying any need to raise interest rates again. Boston Fed President Susan Collins said the current setting of monetary policy would slow the economy in the way she said was necessary to get inflation back to the Fed’s 2% target.

Back in Europe, the Bank of England decision is in focus and sterling is on the backfoot amid speculation that steady rates today may be accompanied by signals that the Bank is prepared to ease alongside the European Central Bank as soon as next month.

And in deals, Spanish bank Sabadell jumped 6% after rival BBVA presented a 12.23 billion euro takeover bid directly to shareholders, even though the former’s board already rejected the proposal. BBVA shares were down 5.4%.

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

* Bank of England policy decision, meeting minutes, monetary policy report and press briefing; Central Bank of Mexico releases Monetary policy statement

* US weekly jobless claims, Mexico April inflation

* San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Mary Daly speaks; European Central Bank board member Luis de Guindos speaks

* US corporate earnings: Warner Bros Discovery, Tapestry, Constellation Energy, Evergy, Viatris, Gen Digital, Insulet, Epam Systems, Akamai Technologies, Mettler-Toledo, Charles River Laboratories

* Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan visits the United States

* US Treasury auctions $25 billion of 30-year bonds

(By Mike Dolan, editing by Gareth Jones mike.dolan@thomsonreuters.com)