Stocks tumble as bond markets sound US recession warning

People stand in front of an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP)
Updated 25 March 2019
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Stocks tumble as bond markets sound US recession warning

  • Concerns about the health of the world economy heightened last week after cautious remarks by the US Federal Reserve sent 10-year treasury yields to the lowest since early 2018

SYDNEY: Investors ditched shares on Monday and fled to the safety of bonds while the Japanese yen hovered near a six-week high as risk assets fell out of favor on growing fears about a US recession, sending global yields plunging.
US stocks futures fell, with E-minis for the S&P 500 skidding 0.5 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 1.4 percent to a one-week trough in a broad sell-off in equities in the region.
Japan’s Nikkei tumbled 3.2 percent to the lowest in two weeks, South Korea’s Kospi index declined 1.6 percent while Australian shares faltered 1.3 percent.
Chinese shares also declined with the blue-chip CSI 300 index down 0.8 percent.
On Friday, all three major US stock indexes clocked their biggest one-day percentage losses since Jan.3. The Dow slid 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 was off 1.9 percent and the Nasdaq dropped 2.5 percent.
Concerns about the health of the world economy heightened last week after cautious remarks by the US Federal Reserve sent 10-year treasury yields to the lowest since early 2018.
US 10-year treasury yields were last 1.9 basis points below three-month rates after yields inverted for the first time since 2007 on Friday. Historically, an inverted yield curve — where long-term rates fall below short-term — has signalled an upcoming recession.
“The bond market price action is an enormous blaring siren to anyone trying to be optimistic on stocks,” JPMorgan analysts said in a note to clients.
“Growth, and bonds/yield curves, will be the only thing stocks should be focused on going forward and it’s very hard to envision any type of rally until economic confidence stabilizes and bonds reverse.”
Compounding fears of a more widespread global downturn, manufacturing output data from Germany showed a contraction for the third straight month. And in the United States, preliminary measures of manufacturing and services activity for March showed both sectors grew at a slower pace than in February, according to data from IHS Markit.
National Australia Bank’s yield curve recession modelling is pointing to a 30-35 percent probability of a US recession occurring over the next 10-18 months.
“The risk of a US recession has risen and is flashing amber and this will keep markets pricing a high chance of the Fed cutting rates,” said London-based NAB strategist Tapas Strickland.
As bonds rallied on Monday, yields on 10-year Japanese government bonds slumped to minus 9 basis points, the weakest since September 2016. Australian 10-year year yields plunged to a record low of 1.754.
Some analysts, such as ING’s Rob Carnell, advised against rushing to place bets on the yield inversion.
“We suspect that drawing a recession conclusion from such data is not warranted until the 3M-10Y yield curve is inverted by a substantial amount,” Carnell said. “Just inverted as today’s markets indicate, doesn’t do it for me.”

POLITICAL HEADWINDS
Much of the concerns around global growth is stemming from Europe and China which are battling separate tariff wars with the United States.
Politics was also in focus in the United States and Britain.
A nearly two-year US investigation found no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s election team and Russia, in a major political victory for the US President as he prepares for his 2020 re-election battle.
Political turmoil in Britain over the country’s exit from the European Union also remains a drag on risk assets.
On Sunday, Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper said in a front page editorial British Prime Minister Theresa May must announce on Monday she will stand down as soon as her Brexit deal is approved.
The British pound was a shade lower at $1.3198 after three straight days of wild gyrations. The currency slipped 0.7 percent last week.
In currency markets, the Japanese yen — a perceived safe haven — held near its highest since Feb. 11. It was last 0.1 percent higher at 109.77 per dollar.
The Australian dollar, a liquid proxy for risk play, was down for its third straight session of losses at $0.7076.
In commodities, US crude fell 61 cents to $58.43 per barrel. Brent crude futures eased 60 cents to $66.43.


Debut of China’s Nasdaq-style board adds $44bn in market cap

Updated 22 July 2019
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Debut of China’s Nasdaq-style board adds $44bn in market cap

  • Activity draws attention away from main board

BEIJING: Trading on China’s new Nasdaq-style board for homegrown tech firms hit fever pitch on Monday, with shares up as much as 520 percent in a wild debut that more than doubled the exchange’s combined market capitalization and beat veteran investors’ expectations.

Sixteen of the first batch of 25 companies — ranging from chip-makers to health care firms — increased their already frothy initial public offering (IPO) prices by 136 percent on the STAR Market, operated by the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The raucous first day of trade tripped the exchange’s circuit breakers that are designed to calm frenzied activity. The weakest performer leapt 84.22 percent. In total, the day saw the creation of around 305 billion yuan ($44.3 billion) in new market capitalization on top of an initial market cap of around 225 billion yuan, according to Reuters’ calculations.

“The price gains are crazier than we expected,” said Stephen Huang, vice president of Shanghai See Truth Investment Management. “These are good companies, but valuations are too high. Buying them now makes no sense.”

Modelled after Nasdaq, and complete with a US-style IPO system, STAR may be China’s boldest attempt at capital market reforms yet. It is also seen driven by Beijing’s ambition to become technologically self-reliant as a prolonged trade war with Washington catches Chinese tech firms in the crossfire.

Trading in Anji Microelectronics Technology (Shanghai) Co. Ltd., a semiconductor firm, was briefly halted twice as the company’s shares hit two circuit breakers — first after rising 30 percent, then after climbing 60 percent from the market open.

HIGHLIGHTS

• 16 of 25 STAR Market firms more than double from IPO price.

• Weakest performer gains 84 percent, average gain of 140 percent.

• STAR may be China’s boldest attempt at capital market reforms yet.

The mechanisms did little to keep Anji shares in check as they soared as much as 520 percent from their IPO price in the morning session. Anji shares ended the day up 400.2 percent from their IPO price, the day’s biggest gain, giving the company a valuation of nearly 242 times 2018 earnings.

Suzhou Harmontronics Automation Technology Co. Ltd., in contrast, triggered its circuit breaker in the opposite direction, falling 30 percent from the market open in early trade before rebounding. But by the market close, the company’s shares were still 94.61 percent higher than their IPO price.

Wild share price swings, partly the result of loose trading rules, had been widely expected. IPOs had been oversubscribed by an average of about 1,700 times among retail investors.

The STAR Market sets no limits on share prices during the first five days of a company’s trading. That compares with a cap of 44 percent on debut on other boards in China.

In subsequent trading sessions, stocks on the new tech board will be allowed to rise or fall a maximum 20 percent in a day, double the 10 percent daily limit on other boards.

Regulators last week cautioned individual investors against “blindly” buying STAR Market stocks, but said big fluctuations were normal.

Looser trading rules were aimed at “giving market players adequate freedom in the game, accelerating the formation of equilibrium prices, and boosting price-setting efficiency,” the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) said in a statement on Friday.

The SSE added that it was normal to see big swings in newly listed tech shares, as such companies typically have uncertain prospects, and are difficult to evaluate.