Hawkish comments from the Federal Reserve and other global central banks over the previous week continued to be a key factor weighing on markets. The major U.S. indices ended the week mixed with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.86%) recording a modest gain, while the S&P 500 (-0.2%) ended relatively flat. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose Friday, but still posted a weekly loss of -1.94%.
The personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price index rose 0.1% in November, bringing its year-over-year increase to 5.5%, the lowest since October 2021. The 12-month rise in the core (less food and energy) PCE index—which is the Fed’s preferred inflation metric—fell to a four-month low of 4.7%, providing some support for equity markets.
On Thursday, the Commerce Department upped its estimate of U.S. economic growth in the third quarter from 2.9% to 3.2%, driving the rise in gross domestic product were strong exports and healthy consumer spending.
Shares in Europe were stronger for the week amid signs of slowing inflation and an improvement in consumer confidence. In local currency terms, the pan-European STOXX Europe 50 Index ended 0.34% higher, while the UK’s FTSE 100 Index climbed 1.92%.
China is likely experiencing 1 million Covid infections and 5,000 virus deaths every day, according to UK-based health data firm Airfinity, as it grapples with what is expected to be the biggest outbreak the world has ever seen. It’s been about two weeks since mainland China abruptly ended most Covid controls following nearly three years of strict containment measures. China has officially reported 14,285 cases and just seven deaths so far this week in stark contrast to Airfinity’s data modelling and numerous reports of overloaded hospitals and crematoriums. Chinese stocks were lower for the week as the spike in coronavirus cases weighed on the country’s growth outlook, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ending -3.85% lower.
On Tuesday the Bank of Japan (BoJ) surprisingly widened the trading band for 10-year government bonds to ±0.5%, from ±0.25% to promote market functioning. BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda denied the latest adjustment amounted to a tightening of monetary policy. The central bank said it would allow 10-year bond yields to fluctuate to half a percentage point on either side of its target of zero, instead of the previous band of plus or minus 0.25 percentage points. Since the BoJ’s steps, the yen has strengthened broadly against a basket of currencies while Japanese equities (Nikkei 225, -4.69%) fell sharply over the week.
Sam Bankman-Fried was released on a $250 million bail package earlier in the week after making his first US court appearance to face fraud charges over the collapse of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he co-founded. Two of his top executives, Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, pleaded guilty Wednesday to various criminal charges related to fraud at FTX, and are cooperating with the federal government. The implosion of FTX has shattered investors confidence as the ripple effects continue to be felt across the crypto industry. Overall, the crypto market has lost over $2 trillion in 2022 and popular digital coins such as bitcoin have fallen over 60% year to date.
Market Moves of the Week:
In South Africa, equity markets ended relatively stronger for the week following recent market volatility. The African National Congress (ANC) held its 55th national party conference over the weekend, where President Cyril Ramaphosa won re-election for a second five-year term as the party’s leader. The president was re-elected overcoming a scandal over cash hidden on his private farm, securing 2 476 votes while his opponent former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize secured 1 897 votes. Deputy party leader went to Paul Mashatile. The ANC led government faces a myriad of challenges, ranging from high levels of unemployment, low growth but most urgently the worsening electricity crisis.
On Friday, state-owned power utility Eskom reported a loss of R12,3 billion for the year to end March, its fifth successive annual deficit. The continued strain of high debt servicing costs, diesel costs, maintenance costs and an escalation in arrear debt from non-paying municipalities all weighing heavily on the performance of the power utility.
The JSE All Share Index gained 0.69% over the week, buoyed by gains in the financial sector (+4.42%). The rand enjoyed a strong week, spurred by the re-election of Ramaphosa as ANC president, ending at R17.04 against the U.S. dollar ahead of the four-day long Christmas weekend.
Chart of the Week:
Online shopping has gone from being non-existent to becoming a multibillion-dollar industry. Buying online has become a common practice among millions of people around the world and after nearly three years of the Covid pandemic, online shopping is here to stay with growth being driven by both convenience and the search for competitive prices. (Source: Bloomberg)