October 2022 Monthly CiN-sights

Markets continued to fall over September as rate rises were delivered over the month. The expectations of rate hikes in the near future also sparked the acceptance that a global recession has a high probability of occurring as the fight to temper inflation continues. With the UK in a state of economic flux, and no end in sight with the war in the Ukraine, there remains a deep uncertainty as to what lies ahead.

Global Inflation and Interest Rates

In Australia, the Reserve Bank’s (RBA) fight against inflation continued over September with another rate hike of 50 basis points delivered to take the cash rate to 2.35% – the highest rate since January 2015. The RBA has taken a two-pronged approach to fighting inflation – raising rates and talking tough on its commitment to quell inflation.

By month end, the RBA had tightened by a total of 225 basis points since it began this rate-hiking cycle in early May – the most tightening in a 5-month window since late 1994, which underscores the inflation challenge the RBA is taking on.

Inflation was running at an annual rate of 6.1% in the June quarter and is forecast to hit close to 8% in the final quarter of this year on the RBA’s own forecasts. Price pressures of this magnitude mean that getting inflation down will not be easy.

Not surprisingly, the RBA has signalled more rate increases are on the way. The final paragraph of its statement on the 6th of September highlighted “the Board expects to increase interest rates further over the months ahead”. The question boils down to how much more tightening can we expect.

Fighting inflation comes with a trade-off to growth. But the RBA sees inflation as the bigger evil. The trade-off in fighting inflation is one that involves balancing an economic outlook hampered by growing costs and labour shortages against the vulnerability of heavily indebted households. One of the major sources of uncertainty is the behaviour of household spending. Consumer confidence has fallen, house prices are declining, and the “full effects of higher interest rates (are) yet to be felt in mortgage payments”. But people are finding jobs, hours worked are increasing, wages growth is rising, and many households continue to build up financial buffers.

A key feature of what we are seeing across the economic landscape globally has been the synchronised nature of monetary policy tightening as the fight against inflation continues. As a result, during this cycle, central banks in the US, Euro area, and Canada have all announced and implemented super-sized interest rates hikes over recent months.

Focussing on the US, the Fed has been hiking rates aggressively through 2022 to get a handle on rapid inflation in the US economy and rising inflationary expectations.

Throughout 2022, the Federal Funds Rate has been lifted by 225 basis points, from a target band of 0.00% – 0.25%, to 2.25% – 2.50%. This has occurred at a rapid pace, with hikes of 50, 75, and 75 basis points – then at the September Fed meeting a further 75 basis points. This now takes the federal funds rate to the 3%-3.25% range, pushing borrowing costs to the highest point since 2008.

Following the rate rise, Fed chair J Powell during a press conference stated, “We have got to get inflation behind us. I wish there were a painless way to do that. There isn’t”.

The annual inflation rate in the Euro Area jumped to 10% in September of 2022 from 9.1% in August, the highest it has ever been in the history of the common European currency. This result compared with market forecasts of 9.7%.

It marks the fifth consecutive month of rising inflation, with prices showing no signs of peaking, at a time when pressures already spread from energy to other items. The faster price increases were seen for food, alcohol and tobacco, energy, non-energy industrial goods and services. Among the bloc’s biggest economies, Germany recorded the highest inflation rate (10.9% vs 8.8% in August), followed by Italy (9.5% vs 9.1%) while inflation in both Spain (9.3% vs 10.5%) and France (6.2% vs 6.6%) slowed.

Developments in the global economy


In early September, the Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit took place, which included two days of speeches and discussions with industry, government, unions, and business leaders.

The Government announced 36 outcomes and initiatives that would be implemented following the Summit. These are grouped into five key themes and categories:

  • A better skilled, better trained workforce.
  • Addressing skills shortages and strengthening the migration system.
  • Boosting job security and wages, and creating safe, fair and productive workplaces.
  • Promoting equal opportunities and reducing barries to employment.
  • Maximising jobs and opportunities in our industries and communities.

One of the main policies coming out of the Summit included changes to the migration program to accelerate and increase the number of people coming to Australia to help employers fill the record number of job vacancies across the economy.

For permanent migrants, the annual intake will be increased to 195,000 in 2022-23, up from 160,000 prior to the pandemic. Additional funding will be provided to speed up visa processing to streamline the visa application process and clear backlogs. Students and holders of training visas will also be allowed to stay in Australia longer, with work rights, following the completion of their studies.

On industrial relations, changes will be introduced to the Fair Work Act and rules around workplace bargaining, including the development of legislation to introduce a multi-employer wage bargaining system. This has been a contentious issue as some employer groups have argued that such a move may lead to excessive wage claims and increased risks of industrial action at a time when inflation is elevated. Additional changes include simplifying the ‘Better Off Overall Test’, which employers have previously flagged as a challenge to negotiating new agreements.

On skills and training, more funding will be allocated for a range of education initiatives. An additional $1 billion of funding will be provided by the Federal Government and state and territory governments to provide an additional 465,000 fee-free TAFE places, with 180,000 in 2023.

There were additional changes announced to encourage greater levels of workforce participation, particularly among older workers and women. This included increasing the amount of income that pensioners can earn before their pension entitlements begin to be reduced. There were also announcements around strengthening reporting standards on the gender pay gap and reporting and targets around gender equality in the workplace for larger businesses and the public service.

The Government has hailed the Summit as a success. However, the proof will be in the pudding. Focus will now turn to the communication and implementation of the large range of policies announced. Some announcements will require consultation and collaboration with the public and key stakeholders as legislative changes need to be brought forward to Parliament to give them effect. Submissions from and engagement with the public are expected over the next 12 months.

Another big piece of economic news was the release of the National Accounts mid-September which showed that the economy expanded by 0.9% in the June quarter and by 3.6% over the year to the June quarter, confirming the RBA’s view that the economy remains strong.

Propelling the economic engine forward was household spending (up 2.2% over the quarter) and exports (up 5.5%). Households splashed out on services, such as airline travel, hotels, cafes & restaurants, and recreation & culture. These sectors had been at the coalface of closed borders and mobility restrictions. They’re also likely to be the first to start feeling the squeeze from higher mortgage rates.

The one area where higher interest rates are beginning to take their toll is the housing market. The National Accounts showed that housing construction declined by 2.9% in the June quarter, and by 4.6% in annual terms. Forward indicators, most notably building approvals, suggests that the pipeline of projects has peaked, and we should expect a continued easing in activity.

The August 2022 read had consumer confidence well entrenched in negative territory. The consumer sentiment index had fallen for a ninth consecutive month, sliding to 81.2 points. This was the lowest reading since August 2020 and was around the lows recorded during the Global Financial Crisis.

On balance, the negative effects are likely to outweigh the positive offsets and continue to weigh on confidence. A key uncertainty remains how far confidence will fall before hitting a trough.

While confidence is low, consumers continue to spend big. We expect this anomaly to eventually correct itself with the headwinds from rising cost-of-living pressures and higher interest rates to lead to a slowdown in household consumption, particularly as we head into 2023.

United States

US stocks were highly volatile over September as investors digested a slew of economic releases. The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the US core PCE price index, came in well above expectations in August, worrying investors that inflation may be stickier than anticipated. In addition, a report from the US Commerce Department showed that personal spending rebounded in August, pointing to a still resilient economy.

All major US indices finished the month with three straight quarters of decline. For the S&P this is the first time since 2009, and for the Nasdaq since the dot-com bubble.

The dollar index steadied near 112 around September close, after retreating from a 20-year high of 114.778 over the month – another strong monthly gain on expectations that the Federal Reserve will tighten monetary settings further to bring down high inflation.

The index finished up about 3% over the month and is trading nearly 7% higher for the quarter. Fed policymakers reiterated that the central bank needs to raise interest rates to restrictive levels amid persistent inflationary pressures, despite concerns about growth and market volatility. The $USD also benefited from increased haven demand given the US economy’s strength relative to other developed nations.

Other data released over September was the personal consumption expenditure price index which rose 0.3% month-over-month in August of 2022, after a 0.1% decrease in July. Prices for services increased 0.6%, after being unchanged in July while the cost of goods decreased 0.3%, extending a 0.4% drop, reflecting a shift in spending. Food prices increased 0.8% (vs 1.3%) while energy prices tumbled 5.5% (vs -4.9%). Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index advanced 0.6%, faster than market expectations of a 0.5% rise, suggesting inflation is becoming more entrenched in the economy.

The S&P Global US Manufacturing PMI was revised higher to 52 in September of 2022 from a preliminary of 51.8 and above 51.5 in August.

Still, the reading pointed to subdued operating conditions although output and new orders returned to growth. Nonetheless, firms expanded their workforce numbers at the fastest pace since March 2022, although labour shortages continued to hamper firms’ ability to work through incoming new orders.

Outstanding business rose again and at a quicker rate. At the same time, cost pressures softened amid reports of lower prices for some inputs. Although slower than those seen earlier in the year, the rate of selling price inflation picked up slightly as firms continued to pass-through higher cost burdens to customers.


China’s currency woes continued over September, albeit the yuan significantly strengthened to 7.1 per USD as the month closed after Chinese state media emphasised that the currency is unlikely to depreciate further.

The move was consistent with the People’s Bank of China’s (PBoC) warning against speculative trading, delivering clear verbal interventions to support the yuan amid its plunge against the dollar. The PBoC also raised the foreign exchange risk reserves for financial institutions when purchasing FX through currency forwards to 20% from the previous level of zero starting on Sept. 28th, making it more expensive to bet against the domestic currency. Either way, as the month closed, the yuan fell to 7.26 per USD, its lowest level since the data first became available in 2011, and is set to drop for the seventh straight month as China’s monetary policy diverges with the US and as a gloomy domestic economic outlook dented sentiment further.

Data supporting China’s economic slowdown was underpinned by the official NBS Non-Manufacturing PMI declining to a four-month low of 50.6 in September 2022 from 52.6 a month earlier, reflecting the impact of hot weather and anti-COVID measures.

Both new orders (43.1 vs 49.8 in August) and foreign sales (46.0 vs 48.9) fell for the third month in a row and at a much steeper rate, while employment continued to drop (46.6 vs 46.8).

On inflation, input costs stabilised for the second straight month, with the index being unchanged from August (at 50); while output prices dropped for the sixth month in a row, with the rate of decrease softening slightly (48.2 vs 47.6).

Japanese industrial production rose by 2.7% month-over-month in August 2022, accelerating from an upwardly revised 0.8% growth a month earlier and easily beating market consensus of 0.2%, data showed. This was the third straight month of an increase in industrial output, mainly contributed to by production machinery (6.1% vs 6.0% in July), iron, steel, and non-ferrous metals (3.6% vs -1.6%), and chemicals (2.7% vs -4.8%). On a yearly basis, industrial output grew by 5.1% in August, reversing from a 2.0% drop in July and increasing for the first time in six months.

The au Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing PMI was at 50.8 in September 2022, compared to the flash reading of 51.0 and after a final 51.5 in August. This was the softest growth in factory activity since a drop in January 2021, due to rising inflation and a slump in the yen.

New orders fell the most in two years amid weaker demand from foreign markets, particularly China, South Korea, Europe, and the US.

Also, output shrank for the third consecutive month, with the rate of fall the fastest in a year; and buying levels contracted further.

The consumer confidence index in Japan declined to 30.8 in September of 2022 from August’s 3-month high of 32.5, amid lingering global economic uncertainty. All sub-indexes deteriorated: ‘employment perceptions’ (down 1.7 points from a month earlier to 35.4), the measure of ‘overall likelihood’ (down 2.1 points to 29.0), views toward income growth (down 0.6 points to 35.4), and willingness to buy durable goods (down 2.5 points to 23.5).


The economic sentiment indicator in the Euro Area slumped 3.6 points from a month earlier to 93.7 in September 2022, the lowest level since November 2020 and below market expectations of 95.0, amid concerns over rising inflation and interest rates, as well as a weakening economic outlook and an intensifying energy crisis due to the war in Ukraine.

There were declines in confidence among consumers (-28.8 vs -25.0 in August), retailers (-8.4 vs -6.5), service providers (4.9 vs 8.1), manufacturers (-0.4 vs 1.0), and constructors (1.6 vs 3.4). On the price front, the inflation expectations index rose to 41.3 from 37.0 a month earlier, while the gauge for selling price expectations among manufacturers increased to 50.3 from 44.6. Amongst the largest EU economies, the ESI fell markedly in Germany (-4.8 points), the Netherlands (-3.7 points), Italy (-3.7 points), France (-3.2 points) and, to a lesser extent, Spain (-1.0 points).

Adding to the Euro region’s economic slump, the euro continued to fall toward US$0.95 in late September, a fresh low in 20 years. It is down almost 20% so far on the year, pressured by a stronger dollar as the Fed continues to deliver its big interest rate hikes, and as recession prospects in Europe are increasing due to the energy crisis.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank (ECB) already started the tightening cycle by raising key interest rates by 125 basis points since July and pledging to continue to increase the borrowing cost as inflation shows no signs of peaking. ECB President Lagarde recently reinforced that the central bank must keep raising interest rates to tame inflation, even if the side effect of the tighter policy will be weaker growth, while several ECB members recently advocated another 75 basis point hike in October.

On a more positive note, the Euro region unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.6% for a second consecutive month in August of 2022, a record low reading and in line with market forecasts.

A year earlier, the jobless rate was much higher at 7.5%. There were 10.966 million unemployed persons, down by 30 thousand from July 2022. Youth unemployment also declined by 17 thousand to 2.136 million, pushing the rate down to 13.9% from 14.0% in July. Among the biggest economies in the Eurozone, declines in the jobless rate were seen in France (7.3% vs 7.4%) and Italy (7.8% vs 7.9%) while the jobless rate was steady at 3.0% in Germany.

Over to the UK, news that shocked global markets was the panic selling across UK’s markets which saw the 10-year’s yield note topping 4.5% for the first time since November 2008, after the government announced sweeping tax cuts as part of a mini-budget from the newly appointed Truss government. The market’s reaction also sent the sterling crashing to an all-time low of US$1.03, as investors worried about the repercussions of British finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng’s economic proposals. While Kwarteng said his £45 billion of tax cuts would support the economy, the IMF noted the strategy is likely to increase inequality and rating agency Moody’s warned that unfunded tax cuts were credit negative.

This saw the Bank of England imminently announcing plans to carry out temporary purchases of long-dated UK government bonds from 28 September until 14 October to restore orderly market conditions.

European Global Energy prices

News of gas storage and lesser household demand saw Dutch gas futures falling below €160 per MWh, the lowest in 2-1/2 months, albeit 6 times the cost 12 months ago. It has been reported that gas storage sites in Germany were 93.1% full as of end September, above the EU average of 90.1%. These actions occurring as a direct result of the Ukraine war that has spiked primarily gas and oil prices throughout Europe.

However, whilst the mood over energy supply shows improvement, the European Union is still staring into a potentially catastrophic energy crisis as winter approaches, with policymakers becoming increasingly frantic about what to do next, what message to give and what relief to offer for households and companies under extreme financial stress.

European Union leaders are divided over capping gas prices, with Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands opposing any cap, on concerns that it would make it difficult to buy the gas they need. The EU and Norway agreed to jointly develop tools to stabilise energy markets and limit the impact of market manipulation and of price volatility.

Gas supply from Russia now represents around 9% for Europe, compared to 40% before the war in Ukraine, with Norway now being Europe’s biggest supplier.

Developments in financial markets

Australian Equities

Slightly improved sentiment which resulted in Australian equities markets rallying through July and August has now dissipated. The ASX300 Accumulation Index shed 6.29% over September to bring the 1-yr rolling return down to -8%. With the gains over the previous two months and the recent drop, it is safe to say the debate as to whether the upswing was or wasn’t a bear market rally is now decided.

Small and large caps both dropped, though large caps fared marginally better. The S&P/ASX100 closed the month down 6.89%, the S&P/ASX MidCap 50 dropped 8.12%, and the S&P/ASX Small Ords sank 11.20%. The Small Cap index has been brought to its knees on a 1-yr basis showing a -22.56% return since September 2021.

All Australian sectors closed September in the red. The worst was felt across Utilities, posting -12.24%, though still up 13.44% for the year. Second was Real Estate with a 12.99% drop, culminating in a -19.44% 1-yr performance. Industrials came in third with an 8.97% drop (-6.76% 1-yr), followed by Energy with -8.13% – though still the best performer on a 1-yr basis posting a +21.22% return. Info Tech and Consumer Discretionary closed September at -7.4% and -7.37% respectively, producing agonising -37.35% and -23.32 1-yr rolling returns.

International Equities

Global indices followed the same risk-off profile and finished September well in red territory. The MSCI World Ex Australia (unhedged) shed 3.23%, giving a -9.79% 1-yr return.

Over in the USA, the S&P500, NASDAQ, and Down Jones lost 9.21%, 10.44%, and 8.76% respectively over the month. These results drag the 1-yr rolling returns further down to -15.47%, -26.25%, and -13.40%.

European markets were no different. The STOXX Europe 600 Total Return index fell 6.57%, bringing the rolling 1-yr to -17.72%. The French CAC 40 fell 5.92%, the German DAX 5.61, and the UK FTSE100 followed with a 5.36% drop. Their 1-yr rolling returns fell to -11.62%, -20.62%, and -2.72% respectively.

Asian markets could not escape the turmoil, with the Korean KOSPI ending September down 12.81% and the Japanese Nikkei 225 down 6.59%. The KOSPI’s 1-yr rolling return is now -29.78%. The Chinese Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng continued to fall, closing the month down 5.55% and 13.69% respectively, and are both still under strain for the year with their 1-yr rolling returns at -15.24% and -29.92%.

Fixed Interest

Central banks’ war on inflation continued to take their toll on Fixed Interest markets throughout September. Only five central banks are in an easing cycle globally, with the rest all tightening monetary policy.

Domestically, the Bloomberg AusBond Composite (0+Y) ended the month down 1.36%, dragging its 1-yr return further negative at -11.36%.

International markets saw the Barclays Global Aggregate TR Hedged index slipped 3.50% over the month, translating into a -12.81% 1-yr rolling return.

Foreign Exchange

The USD maintained its ‘safe-haven’ status over September, bringing its 1-yr performance against major currencies up to eye-catching levels. The Australian dollar shed a further 6.46% against the USD to end the month at 0.6400, down 11.44% on a 1-yr basis.

The Japanese Yen, Pound Sterling, and Euro all played to the same tune against the USD. The USD/JPY pair ended the month up 4.16%, closing at 144.74 (a monumental +30.06 1-yr rolling). The GBP/USD closed 3.89% down at 1.117 (-17.10% 1-yr rolling), and the Euro finished September down 2.51% against the Greenback at 0.9802, below parity (-15.35% 1-yr rolling).


To the relief of many consumers, commodity markets were mostly down over September. The Bloomberg Commodity Index, which tracks a broadly diversified set of energy, grains, metals, softs, and livestock futures, closed the month deep in red territory at -8.35% (though still posts a comfortable +10.65% 1-yr return). The energy sector’s bull run continued to stumble, with Brent Crude down another 8.84%, closing at USD$87.96. Gold shed 2.95% over September to finish at US$1660.61/oz, and Iron Ore rose a modest 0.24% to close at USD$95.48 per tonne.

Market Charts

Market Data

Source: BTIS – Westpac Financial Services Limited – September 2022

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