August 23, 2023

Daily Market Commentary

Canadian Headlines

  • Canadian Natural Resources is seeking that the deadline to provide comments on Trans Mountain tolls be extended to Sept. 14 from Aug. 30, according to letter filed by law firm Bennett Jones with Canada Energy Regulator on behalf of CNRL as well as Suncor, PetroChina, Marathon, Cenovus and Parkland. Trans Mountain no longer seeks decision by Sept. 14 on interim tolls, confirming a decision this fall will have minimal affect on commencement date of the line. Canadian Natural and petitioners have become aware of an “Application for Deviation” by Trans Mountain that may have “implications” on timing of commencement date for the line.
  • Suncor Energy Inc.’s oil well production was excluded from Alberta’s data for a second month in July. Energy regulator data showed no oil production from Suncor wells in July and June versus about 254,000 barrels a day in May, according to reports posted on the Petrinex website. Prior to June, Suncor typically would be among the three largest producers from oil wells each month. An email to Suncor for an explanation was not immediately returned. Suncor said June 25 it was the victim of a cyber attack that affected its systems. The company was “back to normal with a few exceptions” and the incident didn’t have a “material impact” on financial and operating results, Rich Kruger, chief executive officer, said on an Aug. 15 earnings call. During the call, production data for the second quarter was released.
  • Canadian retail sales rose by more than expected in June, with data also pointing to a slight rebound in activities in July. Receipts for retailers jumped 0.4% last month, the strongest pace since April, according to an advance estimate from Statistics Canada released Wednesday. That followed a 0.1% increase a month earlier, which beat the median estimate for a flat reading in a Bloomberg survey. In volume terms, retail sales edged down 0.2% in June. Only three of nine subsectors saw higher sales in June: motor vehicle and parts dealers, sporting goods stores and gas stations. Excluding autos, retail sales slid 0.8% versus expectations of a 0.3% gain.


World Headlines

  • US equity futures pared gains as disappointing earnings updates weighed on investor sentiment ahead of results from chipmaker Nvidia Corp. Bonds rallied. Foot Locker Inc. tumbled 30% in premarket trading after cutting its 2023 earnings forecast, while Peloton Interactive Inc. slid 28% after its revenue prediction missed estimates. Contracts on the S&P 500 were up 0.2%, paring an earlier advance of as much as 0.6%. Nvidia added 0.7%.
  • European stocks rose Wednesday, as weak economic data readings across the region fueled bets that the European Central Bank will pause its rate-hiking cycle next month. The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.6% by 10:15 a.m. in London. Real estate and utilities outperformed, while automotive and energy lagged. Among individual stocks, Roche Holding AG rose after it accidentally disclosed data from a crucial study of one of its new cancer medicines, which hinted that the trial could ultimately be successful..
  • Asian equities rallied on Wednesday to head for their biggest two-day gain in nearly a month, boosted by financial and technology shares. The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index advanced as much as 0.6%, extending Tuesday’s 0.9% gain. The gauge is set for a two-day gain of 1.5%, its biggest since July 25. Key gauges advanced in Taiwan, India and Australia. Hong Kong shares ended higher while mainland benchmarks fell following a puzzling late rally on Tuesday.
  • Oil fell for a third day as a hastening downturn in the euro area added to wider worries about economic growth in top importer China. West Texas Intermediate futures for October fell below $79 a barrel, hitting the lowest level intraday in almost a month as the contraction in euro-area private sector activity intensified in August. China’s stuttering economy also continues to threaten demand for global commodities. The dollar also climbed, making raw materials priced in the currency less appealing.
  • Precious metal prices rose on Wednesday, with gold extending gains for a fourth straight session, while investors looked forward to comments from Federal Reserve officials at the Jackson Hole symposium, to gauge the possibility of more interest-rate increases. Gains however, were limited, as the U.S. dollar index (DXY) held strong, which makes buying bullion in other currencies less attractive. Meanwhile, copper prices edged higher for a third-day in a row, helped by signs of upbeat demand and China’s move to support its currency.
  • European natural gas prices plunged as talks aimed at heading off strikes at Australian LNG facilities entered the final stretch. Benchmark futures plummeted as much as 18% before paring losses to trade about 11% lower. There’s still no update on which way talks will go, and traders are positioning themselves as negotiations are seen running late into the night in Perth. The risk of disruptions to LNG exports from Australia, one of the world’s biggest producers, had sent Asian and European prices surging this month with prices settling on Tuesday at their highest since April. While the strikes at facilities owned by Woodside Energy Group Ltd. and Chevron Corp. could put as much as 10% of global LNG supply at risk, some traders consider the recent price moves overdone.
  • The contraction of private-sector activity in the euro area intensified, leading investors to bet that the European Central Bank will pause its campaign of interest-rate hikes next month. Services in August ceased being a bright spot and followed the industrial sector into a downturn in the region’s top two economies, prompting the shift in market wagers and sending bond yields and the euro tumbling. The figures also brought warnings that output in the 20-nation bloc will shrink this quarter.
  • Russian drones struck Ukrainian grain infrastructure near the Danube River, the latest in a raft of attacks on the waterway that’s vital for getting Ukraine’s exports out to markets now its Black Sea ports are shut. Several crop terminals at Izmail port on the Danube were damaged overnight, curbing its export capacity by 15%, according to Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov. Some 13,000 tons of grain bound for Romania and Egypt were ruined, he said, and it marked the eighth attack on Ukraine ports since Russia quit the grain deal.  Nine drones were shot down, the city council said earlier.
  • One of the world’s most potent symbols of global trade — the Panama Canal — is falling victim to climate change as shrinking water levels force ships to part-load in order to navigate the vital waterway. Vessels have been waiting almost four days on average at the waterway that creates a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, according to Clarkson Research Services, a unit of the world’s largest  shipbroker. That compares with a little more than a day two months ago. Some ships have even had delays of as many as 20 days. The canal is vital for global trade, allowing through more than half a billion tons of cargo annually. It handles everything from Latin American crops to US energy, and is used extensively by container ships moving manufactured goods like toys and garden furniture across the planet.
  • The leading association of global chip companies is warning that Huawei Technologies Co. is building a collection of secret semiconductor-fabrication facilities across China, a shadow manufacturing network that would let the blacklisted company skirt US sanctions and further the nation’s technology ambitions. Huawei, a controversial telecommunications gear maker at the heart of US-China tensions, moved into chip production last year and is receiving an estimated $30 billion in state funding from the government and its home town of Shenzhen, according to the Washington-based Semiconductor Industry Association. It’s acquired at least two existing plants and is building at least three others, the group said in a presentation to its members seen by Bloomberg.
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc., one of Wall Street’s most ardent return-to-office champions, is cracking down on laggards. The Wall Street giant is embarking on a fresh effort to enforce its policy of working from the office five days a week. Though revenue-producing employees have mostly returned full time, senior managers have grown frustrated by reluctance of staff in other groups constituting a significant chunk of its workforce. “While there is flexibility when needed, we are simply reminding our employees of our existing policy,” human resources chief Jacqueline Arthur said in a statement. “We have continued to encourage employees to work in the office five days a week.”
  • New energy will be used to power old as the world’s biggest floating wind farm sends electricity to major oil fields in the North Sea. The Hywind Tampen wind park, which officially opened Wednesday, is powering five oil and gas platforms operated by Equinor ASA as the Norwegian energy behemoth grapples with mounting pressure to slash emissions. More such projects are likely to follow, with European peers Shell Plc and TotalEnergies SE also investing in floating wind. But it’s still a nascent — and expensive — technology, and capacity will continue to be dwarfed by fixed offshore turbines.
  • A Morgan Stanley unit was fined £5.4 million ($6.8 million) for failure to retain messages sent by traders over WhatsApp in the first-ever penalty of its type issued under the powers of the UK’s energy regulator. Morgan Stanley & Co. International Plc failed to record and save electronic communications between January 2018 and March 2020 made by energy traders on privately-owned phones which discussed transactions, Ofgem said in a statement on Wednesday.
  • The former head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s precious-metals desk and his top trader were sentenced to prison for spoofing, fraud and attempted market manipulation. Michael Nowak, who ran gold and silver trading at the bank, and trader Gregg Smith were sentenced Tuesday in Chicago by US District Judge Edmond Chang. Nowak received a term of one year and one day while Smith was given two years, the stiffest sentence yet in a recent government crackdown on questionable trading practices.
  • Hollywood studios released the details of their contract proposal to film industry’s screenwriters, the latest salvo in their bid to end a months-long strike that has stalled production and delayed new releases across the entertainment industry.  The studios proposed increasing the salary for writers, protections against the use of artificial intelligence and sending the writers’ union quarterly reports disclosing viewership for series. Bloomberg reported many of the details of the offer last week. Chief executive officers of major media companies have gotten more involved in the negotiations in recent weeks, hoping to bring the dispute that has lasted all summer to an end. A group of CEOs, including Walt Disney Co.’s Bob Iger, Netflix Inc.’s Ted Sarandos and Warner Bros Discovery Inc.’s David Zaslav met with the leadership of the Writers Guild of America on Tuesday.