China in Flux & Tech Tuesday
The Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 4.1% on Tuesday after a similar decline on Monday, erasing the gains for the year while the Shanghai Composite fell 2.5% after shedding 2.3% the prior session. The trigger was a new set of regulations banning education tech firms (that teach school curricula) from making profits, raising capital or going public. Those particular companies were crushed, but the move sparked fear of regulations hitting elsewhere.
For broader markets, Chinese regulation isn't yet a worry, which is why they shrugged off the Chinese news. But observers are increasingly worrying about the downdraft spilling onto Western markets. Don't forget the Fed decision tomorrow.
What could undermine sentiment in the days ahead is the increasing difficulty in controlling the delta variant. The city of Nanjing – population 8.5m – went into a strict lockdown on Monday after an outbreak of 76 cases, with about half transmitted locally. Officials have mandated mass testing to stop the spread.
The fear is that every country will have to transition to a strategy for living with covid, rather than completely suppressing it. Australia is struggling with this right now that has weighed heavily on AUD, which is just above the lowest levels since December. China has more tools in the toolbox to control the virus but everything we learn about delta highlights how tough it is to contain. If lockdowns like in Nanjing begin to spread, it could spark a rethink on global growth.
We will continue to watch that front but the economic calendar will offer plenty to monitor in the day ahead with a busy slate and the Fed on Wednesday. From the Tuesday releases, consumer confidence may have the most impact. It's impressively rebounded from the start of the year to 127 from 87 at the turn of the year. There's a chance it could get back to the pre-pandemic level of 132. That could draw a line under the dollar ahead of the FOMC.
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