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The big hack

Bloomberg
U.S. stocks tumbled on Thursday, with tech getting hit particularly hard amid concerns about higher Treasury yields and tensions with China. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.

The Big Hack

An attack by Chinese spies reached almost 30 U.S. companies, including Amazon and Apple, by compromising America’s technology supply chain, according to extensive interviews with government and corporate sources. This attack was something graver than the software-based incidents the world has grown accustomed to seeing. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating, promising the kind of long-term, stealth access that spy agencies are willing to invest millions of dollars and many years to get. Go inside the Chinese cyberspies’ bag of tricks, and check out the software side of China’s supply-chain attack.

Stock Slide

Asian stocks were set for further declines Friday after U.S. equities fell to a three-week low amid a surge in volatility as gains in Treasury yields fueled a repricing of risk assets. The S&P 500 dropped to a three-week low, with nine of the 11 main sectors retreating. High-dividend-yielding stocks dropped after the 10-year yield poked above 3.2 percent for the first time in seven years. Technology shares fell the most, with the Nasdaq 100 Index notching its worst day since June following Bloomberg’s report that China infiltrated American companies with hardware hacks. Higher rates lifted financial firms. The bond rout rippled through global financial markets even as Treasuries stabilized Thursday. Emerging-market shares sank the most since February.

U.S. Jobs Report Due Up

U.S. monthly payrolls data come out Friday, and there’s a lot to watch amid indications the labor market is tightening. Job openings exceeded the number of unemployed people by the most on record in July. More recently, the tally of part-timers who’d prefer a full-time position has fallen to a post-recession low of 4.4 million. But one key measure has barely budged: Multiple-job holders made up 5.1 percent of the total employed in August, and the share has been hovering around 5 percent since the expansion began in mid-2009.

India Rate Decision on Tap

India’s benchmark equity index fell the most in eight months as surging oil prices earlier in the week added to the rupee’s weakness, prompting foreign investors to sell a day ahead of an expected interest-rate increase by the central bank. The country lowered retail fuel prices on Thursday, offering relief to consumers hurt by surging crude oil prices and adding pressure on one of Asia’s widest budget deficits.

Coming Up…

Asian traders could be forgiven if they are a bit jumpy arriving at their desks Friday as a volatile week draws to a close. The U.S. bond-market selloff abated, though stocks picked up the slack volatility wise ahead of the always important U.S. payrolls report. There’s also the potential concern at how Chinese assets will react to all that has gone on this week. There will be plenty of significant data on tap in Asia to digest though, including Japanese earnings and spending, Aussie retail sales and Philippines CPI. And then there’s the RBI meeting.

What we’ve been reading

This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.

And finally, here’s what David’s interested in this morning

This Friday is going to be a busy one, with crucial data and risk events in every major region globally. Just two quick things from me. First, the Reserve Bank of India’s rate decision. Most economists think a hike is needed today, although a few think that can wait. Inflation’s not an urgent concern, but a tanking currency that’s lifting inflation expectations might be. Plus, there’s a debate about whether tweaking rates is the right prescription to address current ills. The reality everyone can agree on is that financial conditions have become extremely tight. Suyash Choudhary, who heads up fixed income at IDFC Asset Management, says this means Indian growth has peaked.

Second, Philippine inflation. Economists are virtually unanimous in projecting that the problem worsened in September. Policy makers think inflation will peak this quarter, but that’s also what they said last quarter. A few months ago, they brushed off worries about a drag on growth. Last Wednesday, the same group acknowledged the economy will miss its target. And this underscores why some in the market think there’s both a credibility issue and an economic problem. That’s evident in some of the trouble the country’s Treasury has run into in some recent auctions. Fortunately, the Treasury says it doesn’t need the money. But investors vote with their feet and the Philippines is home to Asia’s third worst-performing currency, the world’s worst bond market last month and one of the world’s worst stock markets this year.

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