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Market Insights

Global stock markets resilient in the face of risks

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With so much going on in the world and news flow picking up speed, it makes sense to recap some of the things happening in global stock markets this past week and take a look at some potential drivers to look out for.

Let’s start in the US and the tech index. The NASDAQ 100 has been on fire lately, surging back after that 22% drawdown from last year's highs and jumping above the 50 day moving average this week. The next major resistance sits at the 15000-15500 zone, with the 200 day moving average right on top.

Check out the chart: Nasdaq 100 Daily chart

One of the things has been especially notable this week is the strength of chipmakers alongside the traditional blue-chip tech companies like Apple and Microsoft.

We featured Nvidia here back in February and highlighted the Nvidia GPU conference as a key event.

NVIDIA one day share price movement

At the event, Nvidia announced new graphic chips for AI infrastructure, released the H100 chip and a new processor: the Grace CPU Superchip.

Nvidia also announced its new supercomputer "Eos" which they say will be the world's fastest AI system when it fires up later this year.

There’s a big focus on AI & Data centres now. CEO Jensen Huang said the H100 chip will be the engine of AI infrastructure because

"Data centers are becoming AI factories - processing and refining mountains of data to produce intelligence"

Nvidia's Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said that the company’s market opportunity was about a trillion dollars:

  • "Auto is on its way to be our next multi-billion dollar business,"(Nvidia announced $11 billion worth of auto business in the pipeline over the next six years vs $8 billion forecast last year)
  • "Already we have been selling software to our enterprises and this is a couple hundred million dollars today and we believe this is a growth opportunity for us,"

The data centre announcement pushes Nvidia further into direct competition with Intel, who led the way in central processors.

But in the weird and wonderful global economy, competition and collaboration sometimes go together. Nvidia’s CEO Huang said that the firm would consider using Intel as a foundry for their chips in order to diversify the company’s suppliers:

“We’re very open-minded to considering Intel,”

He cautioned that it wouldn’t be easy to match the industry leader: “Being a foundry at the caliber of TSMC is not for the faint-hearted,”

Nor would it be something that happens overnight: “Foundry discussions take a long time. It’s not just about desire. We’re not buying milk here.”

Nvidia gained 9.6% yesterday. Intel was up almost 7%.

Elsewhere in the big tech space, Apple continued their resurgence with a run of eight green days in a row, gaining just under 16% in that time. Microsoft is up a little over 10% in the same period.

Across the Atlantic, the UK index has benefited from strong gains for the ‘old economy’ stocks such as Shell, BP, Glencore plus a general uptick in risk sentiment as the initial shock of the Ukraine conflict subsided.

The index is now trading above the 50 & 200 day moving averages.

UK 100 share price daily chart

Germany’s DAX plunged below the pre-Covid highs when Russia invaded Ukraine. The German index has since recovered from that downswing but struggled to make further gains. A bearish engulfing candle on Wednesday looked ominous, but there’s been no subsequent follow through in either direction.

Germany 40 daily share price

Germany’s economy is facing serious problems however, and there are concerns that the true economic fallout from the conflict is still to come.

The German IFO institute downgraded Germany’s 2022 growth expectations from 3.7% to “only between 2.2% and 3.1% this year". The inflation forecast increased to between 5.1% and 6.1%, up from the 3.3% forecast in December.

The IFO’s business confidence indicator collapsed this month. “Sentiment in the German economy has collapsed,” Ifo said. “Companies in Germany are expecting tough times”.

ING’s Carsten Brzeski summed those fears up well:

  • “The risk is high that the economic implications of the war are much more of a structural game-changer for the European and particularly the German economy than the pandemic has ever been.
  • With high energy and commodity prices for a protracted period, possibly even energy supply interruptions, and an acceleration of deglobalisation, possibly Cold War 2.0, an export-oriented economy highly dependent on energy imports will suffer.
  • “Government support schemes like the ones announced yesterday will dampen the adverse impact of the war but will not be able to avoid stagflation.”

ING revised their 2022 German growth forecasts down to just 1.6%, lower than the IFO predictions.

Craziness in China & Hong Kong

China’s leaders had their “whatever it takes”moment last week, pledging to ease their regulatory crackdown, provide support to property and internet/tech companies and generally stimulate the Chinese economy.

China’s banking regulator also said that they would support insurance companies increasing their investment in stock markets.

The Hong Kong index rallied by 23% in just four days on the back of this news.

Hong Kong 50 daily share price

Questions still remain however, and the rally has stalled.

China’s property market is still unwinding, and nine separate property firms have said that they’ll be unable to publish results before the March 31st reporting deadline. The developers are blaming Covid restrictions, but some observers have expected these reporting difficulties due to suspicions that there may be hidden debt within accounting complexity.

Either way, the lack of reporting creates uncertainty.

Among the tech giants, Alibaba announced a $25bn stock buyback & Tencent grew at its slowest ever rate, posting quarterly revenue gains of 8%. It’s the first time the firm’s sales have grown by single digits in a quarter and potentially hints at the start of a new slower growth era on the back of the regulatory crackdown.

Looking ahead, the global economy is facing huge challenges. Geopolitical tensions are high, as is inflation. Regardless of the economic challenges, central banks seem to have no option other than hiking interest rates to maintain their inflation fighting credibility.

Central bank rhetoric will become increasingly important as the economic situation evolves. For now, interest rates remain relatively low, but that might not be the sure bet that it once was and a re-evaluation of stock valuations could be on the cards.

Not investment advice. Past performance does not guarantee or predict future performance.

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