With most global markets closed for Christmas, the only overnight action was in Asia, which saw Chinese equities fall with tech stocks and names linked to Apple the worst performers after a report that Apple cut forecast iPhone X sales forecasts, while property firms surged on speculation of coming consolidation. As a result, after opening higher, the Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.5% lower on the day, the blue-chip CSI 300 Index fell 0.3%, the Shenzhen Composite Index retreated 0.9%, while the ChiNext small-cap and tech Index dropped 1.3%. The PBOC's refusal to conduct a reverse repo for the second day did not boost the market mood.
The biggest Asian losers were Apple suppliers after the Taipei-based Economic Daily News reported that Apple has cut its sales forecast for the iPhone X by 40% from 50 million in Q1 to only 30 million. The report also noted that Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant stopped recruiting workers. Following the news, Apple supplier Lens Technology Co. dropped 8.4% to be among worst performers on the ChiNext measure; Shenzhen Sunway Communication Co. -2.2%, Luxshare Precision Industry and GoerTek both dropped at least 4%. As the table below shows, it was a sea of red for Apple suppliers.
Offsetting the drop in tech names was strength among property firms: Gemdale rose 6.3% as the best performer on CSI 300 measure after Citic Securities analysts said that the planned strict implementation of property curbs in 2018 would boost industry consolidation and benefit big companies. Unless, of course, it ends up crippling the business for everyone in which case today's spike will promptly turn into a selloff.
Elsewhere in open Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei erased early losses and scraped out gains on Monday as expectations that the Bank of Japan would buy more exchange-traded funds (ETFs) offset drops by financial stocks, Reuters reported. Movements in Japanese equities were confined to a narrow range with foreign investor presence lacking due to Monday's closure of other major markets for Christmas; as a result, the Nikkei finished 0.16% higher at 22,939.18.
Of Tokyo's 33 subsectors, 10 were in the red, led by securities T and banking after their U.S. financial peers lost steam on Friday following their recent strong performance. Denim clothing store operator Jeans Mate 7448.T soared 20.2 percent after reporting that December existing store sales increased 13.2 percent from a year earlier. Furniture and interior goods seller Nitori Holdings 9843.T sank 6.4 percent after the company saw its operating profit for the nine months through to Nov. 20 rise a modest 0.3 percent to 70.4 billion yen ($621.58 million).
Cryptocurrency related shares slipped following recent wild swings in bitcoin. Internet provider GMO Internet which is engaged in the "mining" of bitcoin, fell 4.8%. Remixpoint, an operator of virtual currency trading post services, dropped 4%.
In FX, it was a quiet session, with the only major mover once again out of China, where the yuan surged over 240bp to hit 6.5514 per USD at one point, the strongest since mid-September. Earlier in the day, the PBOC raised the yuan’s fixing by 138bp to 6.5683 per USD, the highest since Sept. 20. The dollar was little changed against other major currencies on Monday in holiday-thinned trading while the cost of swapping the yen for the dollar jumped as banks scrambled to raise dollars for the year-end period.
With most currency trading centers except for Tokyo shut on Monday for Christmas, trading volume was less than 20 percent of the average for major currency pairs including the euro/dollar and the dollar/yen.
According to Reuters, the discount for buying the yen at future dates widened sharply as non-U.S. banks, which typically buy dollars now with sell-back contract at a future date, scrambled to procure greenbacks for the year-end. The one-week forward discount starting from Wednesday jumped to 0.23 yen from around 0.04 yen in the middle of last week.
“Because foreign banks are away and few market players are eager to offer dollars, the forward market is very thin,” said a currency trader at a major Japanese bank. “The market is very volatile and there are hardly any trades beyond one week."