Markets Overview

  • ASX SPI 200 futures down 0.8% to 7,180.00
  • Dow Average down 0.5% to 32,813.23
  • Aussie little changed at 0.7175 per US$
  • U.S. 10-year yield rose 6.5bps to 2.9113%
  • Australia 3-year bond yield rose 5bps to 2.89%
  • Australia 10-year bond yield rose 7bps to 3.42%
  • Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,846.67
  • Brent futures up 0.2% to $115.83/bbl

Economic Events

  • 10:30am: (AU) Australia to Sell A$1 Billion 84-Day Bills
  • 10:30am: (AU) Australia to Sell A$1 Billion 35-Day Bills
  • 11:30am: (AU) April Exports MoM, est. 1%, prior 0%
  • 11:30am: (AU) April Imports MoM, est. 1%, prior -5%
  • 11:30am: (AU) April International Trade Balance, est. A$9b, prior A$9.31b

Stocks in Asia are poised to open steady Thursday as central banks amplify hawkish messages in their quest to rein in inflation and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon sounded alarm bells on the economy. Treasury yields and the dollar advanced.

Futures were little changed in Japan, where stocks may find some support from a sinking yen. They fell in Australia and Hong Kong. US stocks dropped as data showed an unexpected advance in US manufacturing activity as well as exceptionally high job openings, fueling concern the Federal Reserve will need to get more restrictive to slow runaway price gains.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries spiked higher as traders raised bets on the path for rate hikes and the Fed started its balance-sheet reduction process. Oil rose to above $115 a barrel ahead of an OPEC+ meeting to discuss supply policy.

Other News

Now playing at a theater near you: a suspense drama over whether there will be enough popcorn for the summer moviegoing season.

The plot was palpable at CinemaCon, an annual convention for movie-theater operators this spring. The Las Vegas event floor had a festive vibe, coming after two years of pandemic-darkened screens. A-list vendors such as Mars Wrigley (M&M’s, Snickers, Twix) hawked sugary wares near makers of polyester theater-worker vests and seating experts modeling the latest in auditorium recliners.

But there was also a foreboding. Theaters are finding workers harder to hire, and inflation is hitting costs. Perhaps most chilling, supply-chain issues are foreshadowing shortages behind the concession stand, a crucial profit driver for theaters.

“Popcorn supply will be tight,” projected Norm Krug, chief executive of Preferred Popcorn, a company of about 150 farmers supplying the kernels to theater chains.

Mr. Krug, on the convention floor wearing a tie with a popcorn-box motif, said various economic factors were forcing him to pay some farmers more than usual so they keep growing popcorn rather than switch to crops such as soybeans. He’s worried that won’t be enough to keep annual yields at typical levels.

The bags that hold cinema popcorn were a concern for Neely Schiefelbein, sales director for Goldenlink North America, which provides concession-stand materials for theaters. The sheen linings that keep butter grease from seeping out are in short supply, she said.

Some chains are opting for plastic or metal containers that cost more because the vessels often advertise a highly anticipated movie, she said. Some theater owners have told customers that certain sizes are available only in those non-paper options.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “they have to have something to put popcorn in.”

This is otherwise an optimistic time for movie-theater owners, as evidenced by the blockbuster $156 million opening for “Top Gun: Maverick” this past weekend, the fourth $100 million-plus opening in six months and a box-office record for the Memorial Day weekend.

Moviegoers are loading up on food and drink as they return to the theater. “People are spending such as drunk sailors,” said Brian Schultz, CEO of LOOK Dine-In Cinemas, which operates 10 locations with full menus. “Drink, appetizer, entree, dessert. When they go out, they’re doing it up.”

The spoiler, some operators say, may prove to be the supply of popcorn, soda and snacks and other goodies that are often a highlight of a trip to the movies.

Farmers are growing less popcorn, they say, and shipments of plastic trays that hold strands of licorice aren’t always coming in. Cups are so hard to come by that some theater owners are buying unused inventory from closing theaters — even if they have that competitor’s logo on them.

(Wall Street Journal)