This podcast first appeared and originally published at https://www.bfm.my/podcast/morning-run/market-watch/us-housing-market-outlook on May 26, 2022.
The VIX or the “fear gauge” has been trading sideways but what does it indicate about equity market expectation? And US home sales in April fell to their lowest in 9 years, brought down by rising mortgage rates but how adversely will this impact the property and construction sector? Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence tells us more.
SM: Bfm 89 Nine. Good morning. You are listening to the morning run at on Thursday the 26th May. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Khoo Hsu Chuang and Tan Chen Li. First, let’s recap how global markets closed overnight in the US.
KHC: Doll up zero 6%. Smp 500 up 1%. Nasdaq up 1.5%. Asian markets. Nikay down .3% Hong Kong’s up 3%. Shanghai Composite up 1.2%. Sti down .5% FBN KLCI up zero 3%.
SM: So for some thoughts on what’s moving markets, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Let’s get some reactions on US markets overnight. They interpreted the latest Fed meetings pretty favorably. It seems the US stocks all inched upwards. What did they find reassuring about the Fed’s policy direction?
TN: I think they were just looking for some direction that things weren’t going to be worse than the guidance that they received previously because commodity prices haven’t stopped rising necessarily. And so I think people were afraid that the Fed might accelerate their plan to stop inflation and just a little bit of a nudge that they probably weren’t going to do that and they were going to remain flexible, probably help things out after hours. You had Nvidia report, which was really disappointing. And so the Nasdaq futures are down pretty far right now. So although we had a good trading today, things are looking a little bit pessimistic for tomorrow based on some earnings.
TCL: Yeah. So the Fed translators have a TLDR conclusion on the Fed minutes yesterday. We have it at three more basis, 50 basis points hikes, and then an indefinite pause. Tony, what do you think about that translation?
TN: So I think what they’re saying is where investors are seeing say for the next six months that things will be pretty stable. They can Bake in the 250 basis point rises, and from there it’s pretty easy to calculate how much tolerance you have. The other factor to think through is how much the Fed will tighten for the next six months. And that’s already baked in how much they’re tightening their balance sheet. And I think that’s $23 billion a month, or 32. I can’t remember the number exactly, but it’s a stable number, and that’s really unlikely to accelerate.
TCL: Tony, does it set the stage for a second half risk rally?
TN: Yeah, it possibly could because it’s campaign season and nobody really wants to be tightening going into a campaign. So it’s possible. There’s a lot of talk about recession, and if there is a recession, we’re already in the middle of it. So there’s no sense kind of worrying about it because it’s already here. If that’s the case, we already had a first quarter contraction in US GDP. If we have a second quarter, we’re already halfway through that anyway, almost so or two thirds of the way through that. So it doesn’t really matter that much. And I think people are starting to look at that in a different light.
KHC: The CTO volatility index or the fear gauge has been moving sideways between 25 and 35 over the last month. What would that trading pattern indicate about equity market expectations?
TN: Yes. So the VIX really is it measures volatility of SMP 500 options over the next 30 days. And so it tells me that there is, I would say heightened sensitivity or elevated volatility expected. But I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s extreme. So it doesn’t appear that people are looking for some sort of extreme, say May or April 2020 type of event. So people are worried about further falls in equities for their pullbacks in equities. But I don’t necessarily based on what we’re seeing in the VIX, not necessarily seeing people expect things to fall off a cliff.
SM: And I think looking at how the rise in interest rates, what kind of impact has been having so far, we may be seeing that in US home sales because in April it fell to their lowest in nine years. But what other headwinds do you see facing the US housing market and how do you think it’s going to impact property and the construction sector moving forward?
TN: Yes. People in the US talked about supply like there’s a short supply on the market or not enough supply. In May, we actually went up to nine months of housing supply on the market. What that means is the number of, say, homes that are on the market, given the current pace of buying, would last for nine months. Of course, there is short supply in some markets, but in general, there seems to be across the US at least ample supply. So people are going to pull in their expectations for price given that interest rates have risen. But if they continue to rise, they’ll want to rush their purchases forward, which is possibly what we’ll see, especially over the next 30 days or so, because people always want to save a little bit more on the interest rate. So I don’t see a lot unless we start seeing mass layoff events or something like that. I’m not sure how much of this you see Malaysia, but we did see a lot of all cash buyers for houses in the US. And what’s been happening there is people will take out a loan, a cash loan against their equity portfolio.
TN: We will definitely see that stop because equities are not as relevant as they were 60, 90 days ago. There have been some calls on those loans and so some of those transactions have had to stop. So I think that’s what’s led part of what’s led to a little bit more supply on the market and may slow down some of the purchase transactions.
TCL: Yeah. Tony is still on properties. I think I read somewhere that the median home price in America across the whole country is somewhere around either 349,000, $391,000 per house, which is the highest it’s ever been in a number of years. Do you see that house inflation continuing to creep upwards, or do you think it’s kind of like peaks off and it’s going to taper off?
TN: I think we do have a lot of new houses under construction, so I don’t necessarily think we’ll see that continue to rise at the rate that we’ve seen. If we do, we’ll continue for a period, maybe six to twelve months or something. But I don’t necessarily see house prices continue to rise, especially with interest rates rising. If we had kept interest rates where they were, then sure, we’d continue to see house prices rise at that rate, but because they’re pulling that lever, I think they’re going to let it sit, of course, as Palo said, for a period of time. But if house prices continue to rise in an uncontrolled way, I think they’ll come back in and intervene with interest rates.
KHC: And with India now restricting sugar exports and Malaysia doing the same with chicken, where is the trend towards food protectionism headed, and are we looking at a global food crisis?
TN: Yeah, I think your last question first. Yeah, I think we are definitely looking at a global food crisis. Well, maybe not global a regional food crisis in certain regions. Of course, there have been protests in Iran, supposedly over food prices. We’ve seen issues in Sri Lanka, of course, places like Egypt, different countries. There are problems. But I think some of this is related to Ukraine’s inability to export Ukraine and Russia’s inability to export some of their goods. And yeah, some of it’s protectionist with sugar in India and other things. But I think the countries that are holding back exports are more focused on providing for their citizens, and I think they’re trying to visually make sure that their citizens see that as a priority. So the citizens aren’t protesting and upset. And if we look at what’s happening in Pakistan right now, so citizens aren’t protesting and upset. So the political leadership is actually seen to be doing something to hold some food back for their clients or their citizens as a hedge against inflation. So I think part of it is political. I know it’s a little bit protectionist, but I think it’s more just being very careful about being prudent for their citizens.
SM: Tony, thanks very much for speaking to us this morning. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, weighing in on some of the trends that he sees moving markets, commenting on, I suppose his outlook for the housing sector in the US, which has taken a different trajectory from Malaysia, which are housing hasn’t really gone anywhere for the past two, three years, six years, actually.
TCL: Yeah. In fact, since 2014. But I just checked some of the data from America, the Fred statistics from the St. Louis Fed prices. The median house price in America is $430,000. Of course, median is the middle number between the top and bottom, $430,000 per house in America. That’s average let’s reach out what 1.8 million ring? That’s a lot of money.
SM: That’s inflation for you 717. In the morning we’re heading into some messages. And after that all you should know about green bonds in the region. Stay tuned to BFM 89.9.