Asia market update: CN equities up on first day back amid holiday spending burst. Currencies slightly gain v USD in quiet trading; Focus on RBA Minutes & CN PBOC LPR tomorrow.

General trend

- China reported increases in domestic tourists as well as overall holiday spending during the Lunar New Year / Spring Festival official holiday public holiday period (Feb 10 to 17)

- China mainland equity markets opened (mostly up) for the first time since Feb 8th post the Lunar New Year holiday. Mainly positive tone with the Shanghai Composite up nearly 1% by lunch, led by AI stocks on the Open AI/Sora gen-AI excitement as well as Tourism Stocks index +3% on the increased holiday numbers above.

- Hang Seng and HK-listed mainly property stocks down, however.

- Korea’s Kospi +1.3% at afternoon open to its highest level since early 2022, with higher foreign inflows reported.

- Traders continue to circulate chatter that the Bank of Japan is on track to end negative interest rates in coming months despite the economy’s fall into technical recession last week.

- Meanwhile, an ex-Japan bank regulator warned of a 'regime change' level impact for Japan's banking system when BOJ exits NIRP.

- Thailand GDP came in well below estimates, with economic agencies reducing 2024 growth outlook further with the Planning Agency calling for rate cuts to help the economy.

- Over the weekend China PBOC conducted MLF operations over the weekend with an unchanged rate of 2.50% - some analysts had been expecting a 10bps cut after the PBOC had cut the broad RRR rate by 50bps back on Jan 24th.

- CN analysts do expect a 10bps cut to the 5-year LPR rate tomorrow to 4.10%, while estimating that the 1-year rate will stay unchanged.

- US equity FUTs up slightly during Asian trading;

Looking ahead (Asian time zone)

- Tue Feb 20th AU RBA Feb Meeting Minutes, China PBoC Monthly LPR Setting.

- Wed Feb 21st JP Jan Balance of Trade, (Wed night) US FOMC Meeting Minutes.

- Thu 22nd NZ Balance of Trade, AU & JP Feb prelim PMI, KR interest rate decision, (Thu evening) DE Feb prelim PMI, EU Jan inflation, US initial jobless.

- Fri 23rd CN House Price Index, (Fri evening) CN FDI, DE Feb Business Climate.

Holidays in Asia this week

- Fri Feb 23rd Japan (Emperor’s Birthday).

Headlines/economic data

Australia/New Zealand

- ASX 200 opens +0.1% at 7,658.

- Macquarie (MQG.AU) Co to cut £1.3B stake in UK gas network Cadent; Hermes to also sell part of its stake - FT (weekend update).

- Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Board member Harker: Will not wait until inflation be within target band before cutting rates - Not fixating on any sort of inflation to signal start of easing cycle (weekend update).

- Australia finalizes A$140M agreement to build hydrogen hub in Pilbara, Western Australia - statement.

- New Zealand Jan Performance of Services Index: 52.1 v 48.8 prior.

- New Zealand Jan Non-Resident Bond Holdings: 61.6% v 61.3% prior.

- BNZ bank now expects New Zealand's RBNZ to cut OCR in November, not August - financial press.

- ASB bank believes New Zealand RBNZ rate hike Is a realistic possibility.

China/Hong Kong

- Hang Seng opens flat at 16,334.

- Shanghai Composite opens +0.7% at 2,886 (first trading day since Feb 8th).

- China state banks said to earmark ~$8B for property projects - China press.

- BYD (1211.HK) Plans to launch a number of high-end luxury models from 2024; Plans to repurchase shares (amount unspecified) – filing.

- Fitch: China major ports throughput growth in 2024 to slow due to weak demand and Red Sea disruptions.

- China Premier Li Qiang: Departments under the cabinet must do more work to boost public confidence and expectations - China state media (weekend update).

- China domestic tourist Lunar New Year / Spring Festival holiday spending (CNY) 632.7B, +7.7% v 2019 pcp- Ministry of Culture and Tourism (weekend update).

- Evergrande (3333.HK) Co. liquidators reportedly considering suing PwC over audits - FT (update).

- China PBOC conducts CNY500M in 1-year medium-term lending facility (MLF) AT 2.50% VS. 2.50% PRIOR (as expected) [weekend update].

- China Q4 Preliminary Current Account: $55.2B v $62.6B prior (weekend update].

- China PBOC sets Yuan reference rate: 7.1032 v 7.1036 prior (prior rate was set Feb 8th, pre-Lunar New Year holidays).

- China PBOC Open Market Operation (OMO): Sells CNY32B in 7-day reverse repos; Sells CNY0B in 14-day reverse repos; Net drains CNY68B (Monday operations today).

- China PBOC Open Market Operation (OMO): Sells CNY105B in 7-day reverse repos; Sells CNY0B in 14-day reverse repos; [weekend update].

Japan

- Nikkei 225 opens flat at 38,473.

- Japan Dec Core Machine Orders M/M: +2.7% v +2.8%e; Y/Y: -0.7% v -1.3%e.

- Japan ex-bank regulator Tokio Morita warns of a 'regime change' impact for Japan's banking system from a BOJ exit from NIRP - Japan press.

- Japan PM Kishida: Will continue to support Ukraine economic development - Japan press.

- Japan FSA considers emissions disclosure for companies listed on TSE's Prime market - Japan press.

- Traders circulating press chatter which cites 'sources familiar with BOJ thinking', saying Bank of Japan is on track to end negative interest rates in coming months despite the economy's fall into recession (weekend update).

- Japan sells ¥3.5T v ¥3.5T indicated in 12-Month Bills; Avg Yield: 0.0129% v -0.0551% prior; bid-to-cover: 2.89x v 4.14x prior.

South Korea

- Kospi opens +0.2% at 2,653.

- South Korea Fin Min: To extend tax breaks on oil products until the end of Apr (weekend update).

Other Asia

- Thailand Q4 GDP Q/Q: -0.6% v -0.1%e; Y/Y: 1.7% v 2.5%e.

- Thailand Central Bank (BoT): Thai banks' bad loans seen rising but manageable.

- Singapore Trade Min Gan: Shift in labour market shows a need for new skills - TV interview.

- Indonesia Jan Local Auto Sales Y/Y: 69.6K v 85.3K prior.

- Singapore Dep PM: 2024 outlook is mixed; Affirms 1-3% GDP growth forecast; Additional 'assurance package' to cost S$1.9B - budget speech (weekend update).

- Singapore Fin Min Wong: See FY24 budget surplus at S$0.8B or 0.1% of GDP - budget speech (weekend update).

North America

- (US) CENTCOM: US military conducted five self-defense strikes in Iranian-backed Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen (on Sunday local time).

- Apple (AAPL) EU to fine Co ~€500M for alleged breaches of EU competition law related to music streaming - FT (weekend update).

- Intel (INTC) Biden Admin is in discussions with Intel about an over $10B grant via CHIPS Act subsidies – press (weekend update).

- (US) Fed’s Bostic (dove, voter): I was a little surprised by the data but have seen a lot of progress on inflation - CNBC interview (weekend update).

- (US) Feb preliminary university of Michigan confidence: 79.6 V 80.0E (weekend update).

- (US) Jan housing starts: 1.331M V 1.460ME; building permits 1.470M V 1.512ME (weekend update).

- (US) Jan PPI final demand M/M: 0.3% V 0.1%E; Y/Y: 0.9% V 0.6%E; Super core PPI M/M biggest jump since Jan 2023 (weekend update).

Europe

- Polymetal (POLY.UK) Agrees to sell Russian assets for ~$3.69B to Sergey Yanchukov's Mangazeya Group, including Russian business debt of $2.21B.

- UK Navy reports incident with a vessel 35NM South of Al Mukha, Yemen.

- IATA Director General Walsh: Aviation industry supply chain issues likely to continue for a few more years - financial press.

- (UK) Feb Rightmove House Prices M/M: 0.9% v 1.3% prior; Y/Y: +0.1% v -0.7% prior.

- (UK) PM Sunak and EU Commission Pres von der Leyen talk Ukraine, Gaza, the Red Sea and Russia's Alexei Navalny - financial press.

- (EU) German Chancellor Scholz: We are discussing developing distance capable precision weapons with France and Britain - Munich security conference (weekend update).

- (IL) Qatar PM: The pattern of the last few days is not very promising for Israel/Hamas negotiations (weekend update).

- (IL) Israel PM Netanyahu: Hamas demands in negotiations are delusional; We will keep fighting until all our goals are achieved (weekend update).

- (UK) Jan Retail Sales (EX-AUTO/FUEL) M/M: 3.2% V 1.7%E; Y/Y: +0.7% V -1.5%E (highest Y/Y pace since Mar 2022) (weekend update).

Levels as of 00:20 ET

- Nikkei 225 -0.2% ; ASX 200 +0.1% ; Hang Seng -1.2% ; Shanghai Composite +0.5%; Kospi +1.6%.

- Equity S&P500 Futures +0.1%; Nasdaq100 +0.2%, Dax flat; FTSE100 flat.

- EUR 1.0770-1.0789; JPY 149.88 -150.24; AUD 0.6528-0.6552; NZD 0.6117-0.6144.

- Gold +0.4% at $2,031/oz; Crude Oil -0.8% at $77.86/brl; Copper -0.5% at $3.8043lb.

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