24 hours of reconciliation

24 hours of reconciliation
It took all of 24 hours for the results of the rationality test to kick in after traders took time to the read the minutes from Wednesday. Not a heck of a lot has changed in the Feds view. The minutes were far more balanced than the equity market sell-off suggested. The discussions about their inflation target being symmetric indicate that the Feds are less concerned about the updraft from inflationary pressures than current market pricing. Overall there were few if any significant hawkish shift and traders have started to nimbly re-engage the US dollar downside not waiting until Powell’s key Humphrey Hawkins testimony which should clear up more than a few policy concerns.

The Feds will raise interest rates in March on the back of two strong inflation prints post-January meeting, but the market remains comfortably parked in the three rate hike camp for 2018.
This new Fed Chair will be as data dependent as his predecessor so, in reality, no one knows for sure what the Feds will do other than hike somewhere between two and four times in 2018.

Bond Markets

The bond markets continue to trade from a bear market bias, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon given the burdening supply issues which are compounded as the Feds delicately and gingerly pull back on QE largess.

Stock Markets
US equity market rebounded as concerns over rising US interest rates abate. If you were confused by Wednesday 50 pips downside adventure on the S&P post-FOMC minutes, you were not alone. However, until the dust is settled on the Fed policy debate, we should expect more back and forth ahead of Jerome Powells Humphrey Hawkins testimony.
Oil markets

Oil market bid was boosted by DoE inventories which saw a draw of -1.616 million barrels which far better than consensus and more profound than the -.9mn print by the API. While the market continues to communicate concern over rising levels of shale production, this bullish inventory data coupled with a slightly softer USD profile, it’s easy to see why oil prices are finding fresh session highs going into the NY close.
Gold Markets

Gold continues to act as less of a haven hedge and more as a proxy for USD sentiment. Given the greenback is trading within a restricted range as the stage is getting prepared for new Chair Jerome Powell, gold will remain supported by the $ 1324-25 levels given the markets ubiquitous bias to sell the USD.  But the topside should also stay in check as most traders will opt to only aggressively re-engage in  USD downside after Powell clears the policy airwaves in his Humphrey Hawkins testimony.

The Japanese Yen

No need to jump the gun, today’s CPI data will be a crucial driver in JPY sentiment. Post data comments to follow.

The Euro
Fact of fiction, the Euro remains a point of contention, but topside conviction remains low ahead of the Italian election compounded by softer EU economic data.

The Malaysian Ringgit 

The USDMYR landscape is a bit muddled, and this air of uncertainty could extend, more so if opinion on the soft dollar narrative become less reliable. Rising US interest rates and the markets growing sensitivity to local economic data presents some near-term challenges for the Ringgit. Ultimately we believe that US rates are in the process of topping but until we get a definitive signal from the New Fed chair, hopefully, next week, we should expect offshore flows to remain light in the short run.

None the less the Ringgit is getting support from higher oil prices and given we are far removed from the USDJMYR 4.0 danger zone, longer-term investors should continue to look for opportunistic levels to re-engage long MYR posting

The Chinese Yaun

Markets in China return from a week-long holiday only to discover the US has initiated another anti-dumping probe.. This time for rubber bands. Certainly sounds more bark than the bit, but non the less trade war discussion is picking up.

Continue to favour a constructive view on the Yuan given the markets negative USD bias. But he RMB complex will most certainly benefit from expected bond inflows which should accelerate as we move through 2018.

Confusion reigns

Confusion reigns

In a market starved for significant news, the FOMC minutes provided just enough talking points to keep the dollar bid as US bond yields nudged towards crucial resistance levels.However, the Feds assortment of views on wage growth suggests the FOMC remains pliable during the transition phase from Yellen to Powell. In other words, the Feds stay in wait and see mode regarding inflation.

Of course, the market latched on to the dovish stuff as traders were partial to sell the dollar, but as is so often the case when interpreting the Feds exercise in verbal gymnastics, the market got it wrong. The FOMC minutes were eventually deemed slightly more hawkish after suggesting economic growth will surpass their estimates which caused STIRT traders to nudge rate hike expectations higher through 2018  and providing a bump to dollar sentiment. But given the lack of follow-through, the jury remains out.

The exciting part of the equation today will be the return of China investors which should provide a spark to regional sentiment. But the jury is out on the currency markets and in particular USDJPY which remains the primary vehicle to express currency sentiment.

So there lies the debate,  interest rate hawks preach the FOMC had not seen last week’s sharp inflation report while the doves suggest a need for a string of convincing inflation prints before moving to the four rate hike camp.

Bond Markets

The bond market is confused, but as my first boss on the BondDesk was always quick to remind me, when in doubt Sell.
Oil prices

Tumbling oil prices got a reprieve at the end of the day after American Petroleum Institute data showed a drop of 0.907 million barrels in US crude inventories. Given all the noise about a shale production ramp, Traders were expecting an increase in the warehouse when in reality improved pipeline infrastructure to the Gulf coast and the decreased supply via TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline, sent Cushing inventories tumbling.But the firming dollar continues to thwart investor sentiment despite the bullish inventory data.  By no means is the dollar returning to form so this upbeat inventory data could have some legs.

Gold Prices

It was a  meltdown in Gold markets overnight, and I’m not talking about scrap prices. But in reality, this should provide Gold investors with another opportunity to re-engage as the Fed fell well short of confirming a 4th rate hike in 2018. The minutes were more balanced in my view as the recent uptick in volatility will have as much bearing on Fed policy decision as the subtle rise in inflation.

G-10

The Euro

Disappointing price action from the long perspective continues to weigh on sentiment; bullish views continue to be challenged ahead of the Italian elections, as near-term convictions turn neutral to slightly bearish

The Japanese Yen

There remain substantial offers between 107.50-108 levels that are providing a cap on USDJPY, but Traders remains exceptionally cautious in either direction despite increasing signals for a structural demise in USD sentiment.While fiscal stimulus looks good on paper, we’re entering uncharted territory as the Fed pares back bond purchases while the Treasury issues absurd amounts of debt.
Malaysian Ringgit

We should anticipate more liquidity coming back to the market as mainland investor return. While we’re nowhere near a make or break scenario for the Ringgit, short-term sentiment remains tarnished by an unexpectedly faster rise in US bond yields. While this is mildly negative for local opinion, the main issue is investors are growing increasingly concerned about a quicker pace of interest rate normalisation from the Fed which could trigger regional capital outflow.

The FOMC minutes served up little more than a plate of confusion last night, so I expect G-10 along with Asia FX to remain in a state of limbo until Fed Chair Powell takes the podium later this month.

Yield-o-Mania

Yield-o-Mania

Global yields ratcheted higher after a stronger than expected jump on Germany’s PPI which bolsters the hotter than expected comprehensive inflation narrative. But it was the jump in US 2-year note yields that provided the extra boost to the US dollar as shorter-dated tenors provides investors with better goalposts for determining how the market is viewing Fed sentiment

However, the lukewarm demand for two-year notes at auction and with supply concerns expected to weigh heavy on investor bond appetite this week, we could see the dollar back under pressure. Of course, traders are erring on the side of caution ahead of the release of the FOMC Jan 30-31 minutes and given the short dollar bus had reached standing room only portions, the short-term pause in this year’s grand dollar sell-off was not too unexpected.
US stock markets

US equity markets fell overnight on the back of higher US Treasury yields which are providing investors with more income than dividends on the S&P 500 Index. While the prospect of higher interest rates will keep investors on edge, it’s not like we’re returning to double-digit levels or the Fed is moving its terminal rate.So even the uptick in ten-year yields to 3 % or even 3.25 % is unlikely to kill the equity market rally as the benefits from fiscal stimulus should continue to feed through the markets. Investors are banking on much higher returns from equities than bonds again in 2018.

Oil markets

Amid OPEC supply compliance, WTI markets are focusing on dwindling inflow of Crude from Canada to Cushing due to limited accommodation on the Keystone pipeline.The disruption is providing a fillip to WTI prices while the stronger dollar has Brent prices falling and narrowing the WTI-Brent spread. Also, WTI is getting a boost from rising exports attributed to better infrastructure connecting the Permian Basin to the Gulf Coast. But of course, we are tapering expectation on WTI rally as the USD continues to find firmer footing.

Gold markets

A tough week for the Gold market so far as the dollar has rebounded and US Bond yields have jumped higher ahead of the FOMC minutes. Traders are hedging for a possible shift in guidance given the uptick in inflation, so this presents a significant market tail risk which could cause traders to reprice rate hike expectations in 2019 aggressively higher. A quicker and steeper slope of interest rate normalisation offers the most prominent near-term threat to gold prices as this outcome will send the USD surging.
G-10

The Euro

The lack of demand for EUR Monday certainly opened the door, and predictably on the first sign of abject news, we dipped to the low 1.23’s after the German ZEW survey plunged. The market is forever a discounting mechanism and given the extremely disappointing price action from the long perspective; it triggered one-way position squaring ahead of the FOMC minutes. And while the bullish EUR narrative continues to resonate, both bearish and bullish views will be inevitably challenged with Italian elections, January NFP and an ECB meeting due over the next few weeks so near-term convictions could turn neutral and tarnish the EUR appeal

The Japanese Yen

The USDJPY should be the best game in town this week especially if traders interpret the FOMC minute’s  colour as bold. However, the risks are balanced entering the FOMC minutes as the recent uptick in volatility could have as much bearing on Fed policy decision as the subtle rise in inflation

But until the market takes out the significant 108.15 level I continue to view the current move as little more than a pre FOMC meeting squeeze driven by yields and positioning and believe there will be substantial resistance between 107.50-108 levels.
The Australian Dollar

Pre-data comments. Given the RBA has been very vocal on wage growth as the missing piece of the economic puzzle, today’s Wage Price Index will attract an unusual amount of focus. Unfortunately, everyone is looking at this trade so the news reading algorithms will likely get there well ahead of everyone on a surprise uptick.

The Malaysian Ringgit

Riskier currencies are trading on poor footing given the firmer dollar and negative global equity sentiment. And of course, we can not overlook higher US yields which are driving opinions this week. This package of coincidences does not make a very conducive environment for regional risk.

Intermezzo

Intermezzo
It was a predictable snoozefest in FX overnight as global holiday sessions crimped activity. And adding to the void, there was scant data during European hours which severely nipped action as traders had few if any fundamental guideposts.

But the markets interlude included the usual holiday- liquidity induced mystery move as the dollar went bid at the NY open. But the step was humble and little more than an attempt to trigger some stops in low liquidity market conditions. But all near-term support levels held and the move and quickly retracted as there was no news to support the quickstep sell-off. Chalk it up to the ghosts of presidents past.

Currency markets have remained relatively muted with few if any headlines to sink one’s teeth into but as the markets pivot to Fed speak and the FOMC minutes this week, “deficit mania” is sounding a few decibels lower this morning.But none the less, ongoing concerns about swelling deficit’s and the Feds sequence of interest rate normalisation should be the markets key focus this week and the primary drivers of near-term volatility.
Oil Markets

Oil prices have started the week on a positive note.With risk aversion abating, equity markets have remained guardedly positive. Also, an escalation of middle east tensions on the back of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beating the war drums by suggesting that Isreal could act against Iran alone has nudged prices higher. Predictably this warmongering has put the region on a state of readiness fearing a head to head incident and boosted oil prices due to the fear of sizable supply disruptions. Of course, when Isreal comes into the equation it could spark contagion across a region

Also, convincing signals from OPEC and their partners to extend production cuts continues to resonate with investors.

Gold Markets

Gold prices slid lower overnight on a drop in volatility and a slightly stronger dollar. Selling pressure emerged after USD speculative buyers emerged along with some position short covering ahead of the plethora of critical Fed speak and of course the FOMC minutes. But given the late-January Fed meeting was primarily interpreted as Hawkish; the bar is high for the minutes to sound an even more Hawkish note,  but they will still attract the lions share of attention.

Given that the sun seldom shines on a capital hill along with escalating middle east tension, on the first sign of a dollar downdraft gold with ratchet higher.

G-10

The Japanese Yen

Markets are focusing on Friday’s crucial Japan CPI print, and with all the recent chatter about the BoJ extending YCC in perpetuity given the stronger Yen, short-term traders are paring back bearish dollar bets. And with a relative sense of calm in overall volatility,  dollar bears are taking an interlude in holiday thinned-trading conditions

The Euro

Very little buying interest yesterday after Friday’s sell-off so given the lack of demand the Euro could fall to low 1.23  on even minor unexpected hic-up on news flow given thin liquidity conditions. But dips should look attractive for long-term players.

The Malaysian Ringgit

Very quiet trading session to start the week with local trader biding time until the FOMC minutes release. In the meantime, the broader USD sentiment will dictate the pace of play for regional currencies and imparticular the USDJPY which is moving towards 107 which is mildly negative for the MYR

On a favourable note, Oil prices remain robust on the escalation of middle east tension and production cut compliance among OPEC members which should provide support for the MYR.

Don’t go barking up the wrong tree in the Year of the Dog

Don’t go barking up the wrong tree in the Year of the Dog

A predictable wave of profit taking and risk reduction, as is standard form ahead of US long weekends, dominated Friday session leading to USD gains as US  yields pulled back. And while the broader  US dollar negativity continues to seep through capital markets, some traders are suggesting of potential shifts in conviction levels while others believe  Friday to be little more than pre-weekend risk reduction. But one thing that’s clear, even the most prolific purveyors of price action are baffled regarding the breakdown of historical correlations across most asset classes.

One telling feature, however, is long-term investors continue to shun the greenback and this should continue to weigh on near-term sentiment. So no don’t  go barking up the wrong tree in this Year of the Dog, stick to the basics and follow the flow.

By way of the ordinary course of developments, the various market holiday observances might challenge liquidity conditions. Golden Week celebrations continue across Asia through Wednesday, while both the US and Canada take holidays Monday. Still, it could be an actionable week with numerous Fed speakers on tap and the FOMC minutes are sure to liven things up. Keep in mind; March rate hike is all but entirely priced-in so the markets will be keying on forwarding guidance.

As the markets pivot to Fed speak and the FOMC minutes this week, “deficit mania” is sounding a few decibels lower this morning.But none the less, ongoing concerns about swelling deficit’s and the Feds sequence of interest rate normalisation should be the markets key focus this week and the primary drivers of near-term volatility.

And while US Bond yields eased on Friday,  traders see icebergs ahead suggesting Friday’s price action was little more than a reprieve amidst a bear market.

Equity Markets

Equity markets continue climbing the wall of worry despite inflationary fears gaining momentum and Bond Yields moving higher.Eventually, something has to give, but so far investors are betting on corporate earning rather than the shifting macro narratives.

Oil markets 

Oil prices finished modestly higher on Friday to chalk up a weekly gain as prices continue to see-saw between the binary descriptions from OPEC’s ongoing efforts to blow out the worldwide glut against the indications of rising U.S. production.Although Fridays price movements were likely  position sensitive amid USD risk reduction and book squaring ahead of tomorrows Oil contract expiration

We should expect the WTI whipsaw to continue as debate rages between US shale and OPEC, but we’re starting to carve out near-term ranges as longer-term oil bulls remain in dip buying mode with shale oil hedger looking to sell upticks.
Gold Markets

Gold prices eased late Friday as the dollar tentatively lifted off the canvas, despite taking a standing eight count earlier in the session when the DXY hit a three year low. A couple of hours USD short covering is unlikely to change the broader USD negativity, but when coupled with inflationary concerns heightening and a probable follow-up correction in equities markets around the corner, golds haven demand should continue to glitter.

On the physical side of demand, China Lunar New Year has seen few gold bars change hands despite physical premiums easing as futures prices continue to grind higher.

G-10 Currency Markets

Japanese Yen

Although the reappointment of Kuroda and the reshuffle of deputy governors is slightly more dovish BoJ, it is hard to reverse USDJPY downside given that continuous USD weakness could further drag USDJPY into the abyss. With the tables turned upside down on ten year US yield to JPY correlation and the US ” deficit mania. ” likely to return, USDJPY is in a precarious position.

Predictably we heard from Japan as Currency Chief Asakawa that he’s readying the necessary action to prevent “one-sided” currency moves, but with the Buck getting pounded against all major currencies, Japans verbal intentions are falling on deaf ears.
The Euro

The pace of the EURUSD rally post-CPI last week surprised everyone but none the less if not for timely comments( seems always to happen when EUR rallies) from ECB Cœuré, we should have closed closer to the 1.2500 rather than 1.2400 handles. His remarks spooked the markets in pre-weekend risk reduction mode after he suggested policymakers are unanimous in sequence when market positioning was suggesting the Hawks were gaining the upper hand. But at some juncture, the market will ignore this verbal balderdash, and in reality, 1.3000 shouldn’t be unimaginable before long predicated on strong fundamentals, the realisation of more hawkish ECB guidance but also the mechanics of the taper could reverse bond outflows.

Asia FX

Malaysian Ringgit 

External drivers and specifically the broader USD moves will dictate the Ringgit momentum this week with the critical focus on USDJPY 106 level.But on the positive side of the equation, one of the primary headwinds that we considered to be a negative for the Ringgit was higher US yields which typically and historically have supported the USD. But the US interest rate to FX correlation broken, and despite USD bond yields pushing much higher t, the USD continues to sell off.

The markets are still feeling the hangover effect from the Chinese Lunar New Year, and risk appetite is waning and with a plethora of Fed speak along with the FOMC minutes likely to cause an uptick in volatility this week, offshore demand could remain muted. None the less, 106 level USDJPY will be a crucial US dollar sentiment gauge, and if the market pushes through again this week, we could see the Ringgit move to 3.87 and below as traders would then set sights on the critical 3.85 level.

Singapore Dollar

The US CPI fallout was somewhat unusual; triggering moves out of the dollar and into riskier currencies, so the SGD benefited as the CNH rallied hard this week.But  CNH could start to underperform. Let me qualify this next comment as no one, and I mean no one knows what the Pboc are going to do. So we can only make hay from innuendo and strategically placed criticisms from regulators in HK  press. But there seems to be a  pickup in debate onshore about the merits of further RMB appreciation which could dent SGD appeal. But in the mean times, we should enjoy the SGD strength ( not because I get paid in SGD, although that is always a welcome bonus). But there is some real value appeal that has emerged in SGD  ahead of this weeks budget, as a rosier outlook in the statement could be the precursor to monetary tightening.But also appealing to foreign investors is the government will take measures to cover the current operating fiscal deficit gap.

US Bond Auction TIPS the dollar

US Bond Auction TIPS the dollar

A dismal US 30year TIPS auction is weighing on dollar demand as the sagging bid to cover ratio of 2.31 is signalling dwindling investor appetite as inflationary headwinds build. The dollar is lower because no one wants to own US bonds despite the higher yield, knowing the inflationary headwinds will push yields higher and bond prices lower

The market remains nonplussed by the breakdown of FX /Interest rate correlations and while the debate still rages concerning Wednesday dollar sell-off. I think its time to throw textbook economics out the window as well as the so-called interest rate pivot point. G-10 yield differentials are so tiny that traders could care less about differentials as they become increasingly focused on the future outlook of the expanding US deficits and in particular the budget deficit

Another hot inflation reading as PPI showed a substantial gain but provided no bounce to the buck. When real money is taking the dollar to the woodshed and reluctant to own greenbacks in anyway shape or form, it matters little what the Feds are doing or yields for that matter. And by all indications, we could be in the early stages of protracted dollar sell-off.
Equity Markets

Equity investors are in a happy spot as US stock markets carved out their fifth consecutive day of gains. Despite a midday swoon, markets roared back as investors view the uptick in inflation as non-threatening and remain in buy on dip mode as last weeks equity meltdown looks more and more like an illogical outlier than ever.

Oil Markets

After the decent bounce on the back weaker dollar and Khalid al-Falih suggesting no imminent demise of OPEC and non-member compliance. Not unexpected the markets are becoming a bit more position sensitive heading into the weekend. The weaker US dollar has been a significant component driving market sentiment, and with the dollar entering oversold territory at weeks end, we could see short dollar position pared which could negatively impact interday oil prices.

Frankly giving the evolving vital narratives surrounding OPEC compliance vs Shale output I expect the WTI whipsaw to be as active next week as it was this week. But given the overly bearish outlook for the greenback, we may have printed a short-term floor and dips will remain supported.

Gold Markets

There was very little follow through on the much hotter than expected US PPI print which convinced investors to book some profits after gold rallied hard the previous session. A while the weaker USD is underpinning gold prices, the short dollar speculators a bit overextend suggesting the market could pare back US short dollar risk which may temper topside expectations for Gold prices today. Medium-term bullish conviction remains intact given the higher US inflation profile and weaker USD narrative.

Crypto Markets

Bitcoin buyers were back en masse chasing the dream as the fear of missing ( FOMO)out propelled BTC above 10,000. It appears the recent wave or regulatory worries have been tempered as the massive South Korean market could roar back to life as rumours are circulating that Seoul is looking at licencing several exchanges adding a level of credibility and shoring up severely dented investor confidence.
Currency Markets

The Japanese Yen

Talking about FOMO, is there anyone who is not short USDJPY? Of course, “the crowded trade theory” did cross my mind overnight, for second or two, as USDJPY powered back to 106.80 overnight on the Wakatabe headline, before pressing the sell button again. Dovish or not the market cares little about centeral bank policy these days while looking for any and all opportunities to hammer the dollar mercilessly. With very little chance of intervention at these levels, the JPY bulls should continue to have their way near-term.But short-term speculators are a bit stretched so now is not the time to get greedy.Let’s see what fortunes next week brings.

The Euro

It looks like the grind higher is back in fashion, and the upticks have been relentless over the past 24 hours. But unlike the recent test of 1.25 positioning is much lighter so we could punch higher as traders continue moan over not buying the dips to the low 1.22’s

The Malaysian Ringgit

Powerful bullish signals are falling on deaf ears as investors are far and few between due to Chinese Lunar New Year and quite frankly it’s not worth paying the holiday liquidity premiums to put on risk. Very little offshore interest today so expect the market to remain quiet.

At the Edge of a Cliff

At the Edge of a Cliff

Was it the mixed data, skewed positioning or merely a lack of confidence that has the USD dollar precariously perched at the edge of the cliff.

Everyone one to a tee went all in on a dollar buying frenzy after the CPI number, but the lack of follow-through was very telling, and the quick rebound stopped out all those newly minted positions and then some. The markets sold AUD, NZD heavily at the lows and then got summarily spanked when traders started to factor in the conflicting data prints.

While the Strong CPI reading does present a hawkish risk for the Feds dot plots in March, the miss in the US retail sales data has the street scrambling to revise GDP estimates lower.The divergent data stream has escalated the market debate of critical importance, specifically is it inflation or growth that will dictate the Fed pace of interest rate normalisation?

But the bottom line for the US  dollar in my view, amidst rising inflation the prospect of increasing deficits, both trade and budget, should weigh like an anvil around  the dollar bulls neck

Equity markets

In seemingly absurd fashion, US equity investors ignored the inflationary signals and focused on weaker-than-expected US retail sales report.  There is an increasing possibility that the Powell may blink and the Feds will be more hesitant to guide monetary policy given the waning growth narrative.
Gold Markets 

Higher US inflation combined with the USD exhibiting zero correlation to higher interest rates amidst burdening duel deficits should play out favourably for Gold markets. The weaker dollar narrative is playing out most favourably across, the broader commodity space and gold demand could surge and push above this year’s highs.  Also,  the sustainability of the frothy equity market given the weak retail sales print suggest increasing gold equity hedges is a practical move.

Oil Markets 

A weaker dollar and verbal intervention from Saudi Energy minister who suggested significant oil producers would prefer tighter markets than end supply cuts too early has seen oil prices do an about-face. The Suadi signal is reasonably convincing suggesting  OPEC and their partners are committed to maintaining an absolute floor on oil prices

As indicated earlier in the week, the battle lines are forming around this key WTI 60.00 bpd as the Shale oil gusher will continue to weigh heavily on OPEC effort to blow out the worldwide glut.

However physical demand remains weak globally so traders will continue to monitor the USD /Oil price correlation and at first sign of flutter, it could signal a downdraft.
Currency Markets

Japanese Yen

With the Interest rate to FX correlation is in “Neverland”, It could be open season on USDJPY after convincingly crossing the 107 USDJPY Rubicon. If the market focuses aggressively shift to the US’s duelling deficit amid higher inflation, the dollar days are numbered in the 107’s if we factor in an expected Exporter flow panic which could be exacerbated by push Japanese investors to raise their hedge ratios on US investments fearing a further fall in the greenback.

While we should expect the usual verbal lashing from Japan’s currency officials, I suspect we are still ways off from overt intervention

The Austrailian Dollar

It’s always good to go into critical economic data with a plan B even if it’s from outer space.  Expect the unexpected and today we see  Aussie is benefiting from resurgent Commodities and US dollar weakness as the greenback is showing no correlation to higher US rates.

Malaysian Ringgit

A weaker US dollar, rebounding commodity prices have the MYR sitting well supported by yesterday’s robust GDP print adding good measure

Dollar weakness is seeping in the USDJPY and USDCNH which will provide a positive backdrop for regional currency markets, and we should expect the MYR to be one of the keys go to currencies as positions remain under positioned post-January monetary policy meeting.  Higher US interest rates are showing little obstacle for regional currency appreciation so the MYR should benefit

Not to weave a cautionary tales but liquidy is a bit thin given in regional markets given the proximity of China Lunar New Year so best to be nimble in these conditions

A day of calm

A day of calm

Equity markets have begun the week on a somewhat positive not picking up from Friday rebound as bargain hunters have returned on the first sign of stability. I guess if you owned a stock for fundamental reasons seven days ago and its 5 % lower this week, why not add to the portfolio? So the story goes.

While the Vix has pulled back to the 25 zone, it’s very trying to view this weeks stock market bounce anything other than technical correction after critical Global benchmarks had one of the there worst performances in years. However, the market is trying to find a positive equilibrium, and if we can get through this week’s critical US CPI relatively unscathed, then it would most certainly look as if last week was little more than a corrective episode rather then the commencement of a bear market.

None the less, government bond yields have found some stability after yields moved higher, albeit in very thinly traded Bond markets.
But certainly adding to the semblance of calm which has started the week. But concerns abound that the Bond Markets have only begun to factor in both the global reflation trade and burdening supply which could drive US bond yields considerably higher.

Oil  Markets

Ignoring US supply-side concerns, OIl markets attempted to make a half-hearted recovery overnight on little more than an equity market correlated bounce and indeed the weaker USD added to the momentum.

Despite the Oil market exhibiting all the hallmarks of technical trading, toppling from massively overbought conditions to retracing on an equity correlated bounce. But technical momentum or not, with the EIA data around the corner, it’s hard not to overlook their expectations that U.S. crude output may rise to 11 million bpd by the end of the year.

However, global demand remains firm, and despite the shale oil boom the supply tightening narrative remains prevalent with OIL towing the line.

Battle lines are forming in an around the WTI 60.00 bpd level which should make for an exciting market this week.

Gold Markets

Gold prices were supported by a weaker dollar and physical demand ahead of Chinese lunar new year. The equity market carnage has abated, and the waves of cross assets selling to replenish equity margins have temporarily decreased providing a calmer market to re-establish Gold longs. But prices should remain within a range ahead of this week US inflation data as the US CPI will be a monster print for the markets inflation views and could provide a catalyst for Gold to bounce higher.
Currency Markets

The US dollar traded lower as currency traders are analysing the rebounding global equity markets. Lots of noise but little momentum as traders are keying on this week’s US CPI with volumes and liquidity density much lower to start the week.

Japanese Yen

The markets continue to digest the potential FX trading leverage cap for individuals in Japan. Mrs Watanabe was a considerable player in the market( especially for Retail brokers), so we’re keeping a close eye on the developments

As for the Yen, we seem to be at a crossroads in all Asian markets with currency markets barely budging looking for some inflation clarity in Wednesday CPI. The fear is that a higher print will send bond yields sky high and equity markets will tumble once again.

Australian Dollar

A rebound in risk sentiment has seen USD haven hedged unwind and buoyed commodity markets.As such, the Aussie dollar has found some solid footing this morning
Malaysian Ringgit

We’re at a bit of a crossroads this week as the markets are grappling with inflation versus the global growth narrative.

An uptick in inflation will lead to higher yields and will present the most significant headwind for the Ringgit. While the market has priced in 3 US rate hikes for 2018, a sudden uptick in US inflation could quicken the pace of the FED interest rate normalisation and could weigh negatively on regional sentiment.

We expect the market to trade in a tight range ahead of this domestic GDP and US CPI. Both monster data points for the Ringgits near-term fate

This too shall pass.

This too shall pass

It seems anytime I left my desk last week the market was sure to fall apart but after witnessing 25 years + of market corrections, I know storms don’t last forever, and as far as the recent bout of market mayhem is concerned, this too shall pass.

Traders quickly conjectured that the ‘crash’ was mainly due to over-crowded positioning in short equity volatility trades and, therefore, was a relatively isolated event. But this does not mean equity markets are out of the weeds just yet.

With US cash flow models factoring in higher US bond yields, equity markets repricing was always on the cards, but unequivocally the rapidity of the move higher in yields was stifling and stop losses were combatively triggered. And when factored with the unbridled use of leverage in equity positions it likely caused everyone to head for the exits due to cash and margin requirements. The great unknown in the debate is just how much equity froth is based on leverage and to what extent will higher US bond yields squeeze these positions either from a cash position or through asset rotation perspectives.

It was a crazy week for US rate markets, but with powerful US economic signals and interest rates most certainly to rise quicker than expected,  last week tumult could be little more than the start of the equity rollercoaster. If cumulative boost from tax reform and fiscal stimulus nudges GDP outline 1.5% higher over the next six to 9 months how does the Fed possibly stick to their three dot plot projections for 2018?

Bond markets are only in the early stages of buying into the global reflation theme, and increasing inflation expectations are driving nominal yields higher. Last week there was a significant topside move in US yields which suggest we could easily tack on another 30-35 basis points 2’s through 10’s given the US fiscal stimulus backdrop. But even without inflation, global central banks will move rates higher, and this will add to higher yield environment, higher inflation or not.

The Feds seem undeterred from the path of gradual normalisation by the recent market turmoil, and we should not expect a Powell ” Put.” given the economic indicators remain strong. And with FED Dudley chiming in, the recent Stock market volatility is ” no big potatoes.” , just imagine a big potato !!
Oil Markets

U.S. crude oil fell below $59 a barrel for the first time in 2018.Rising US production and a resurgent dollar have stacked pressure on oil prices amid a broad financial market sell-off. And on Friday WTI nosedived after the U.S. rig count rose by 26 rigs in the week through Feb. 9 to a total of 791, supporting the EIA revised production forecast that the US would reach the lofty 11 million bpd by the end of 2018

Also, the possible demise of the OPEC agreement has traders on pins and needles after The head of Russian energy giant Gazprom Neft on Friday said producers could adjust their commitments under the deal as soon as next quarter.

Gold Markets
Without question last week was a stressful week in the Gold markets which saw a little appeal for traditional haven assets as Wall streets sinkhole expanded.

At the moment higher US yields continue to weigh negatively on gold’s appeal over the short term, but the recent market tumult likely has overleveraged equity positions scrambling for margin top-ups, and to a degree, there was cause for some cross-asset unwinds including gold allocations which were probably used to fund margins.

In the more extended run with inflation expectations increasing on the back of US stimulus, this should be a consideration for growing one’s gold portfolio.
At the retail levels, Mainland Gold consumption is rising in preparation for Chinese Lunar New Year holidays, not to mention a last-minute splurge for Valentine’s day should keep retailers busy.

Currency Markets

Currency markets were more or less a mixed bag last week, a potpourri of events but not one convincing driver. And with little to glean from Friday close, currency traders could remain sidelined watching equities markets swings in wonderment at least until this week’s US CPI. Given all this rukus started with an uptick in the wage growth component from this months NFP release; this weeks US inflation data will be a monster of a print.
Japanese Yen

Funding positions continue to unwind which at least in the case of JPY, is having a more significant influence over USDJPY than higher US yields. The reappointment of Kuroda could retrace some speculations on the policy adjustments; the Yen will remain the puppet whose strings are manipulated by equities and fixed income price movements.

Australian Dollar

RBA and SOMP behind us and signalling nor rush to hike for a considerable period given the slight dovish lean in the inflation outlook. The AUD should, therefore, be back trading off risk sentiment, commodity prices and ultimately the underlying USD movements. While the Aussie bounced higher above 78 on positive US equity close on Friday, we should expect commodity currencies trade poor amid the recent volatile market. Rallies will likely remain subdued near-term, so the Aussie should remain vulnerable.

Long Euro short Aussie trade set up should return in vogue over the short term given divergent central bank policy expectations.

Malaysian Ringgit

The market continues to grapple with growth versus the inflation narrative, and as this volatility irons itself out, Asian markets tend to exhibit a higher sensitivity to global fluctuations.

And while the Ringgit is better positioned than regional peers to withstand the recent uptick in Global volatility due to strong Marco foundations and the BNM on the path to interest rate normalisation, The domestic economic landscape will come under intense glare when Q4 GDP is released on Wednesday.

While March a rate hike expectations are low due to the dovish inflation overtones expressed by BNM in January,  but a notable above consensus print on this weeks GDP  will increase the odds of a rate hike later in 2018 and strengthen the Ringgit. ( Consensus is 5.8 )

While oil prices continue to move lower due to US supply concerns, I believe this is more technical driven as dollar index is holding above 90 cents, putting pressure on all commodities. Once this period of excess volatility decreases, the global growth narrative should reassert and commodity prices should rise.

Hawks coming home to roost

Hawks coming home to roost

Equity markets were trounced on the back of Global yields parading to multi-year highs Thursday. Indeed, it was less dovish Fed speak that continued to be the driver, and the BoE provided a hawkish bounty for good measure.

The ruckus in the bond pits these days appears hell-bent on marching towards 3 % 10Year UST yields much quicker than anyone had suspected which suggest equity markets will come under the hammer for some time to come. Yields are becoming the real storyline as a combination of tighter monetary policy and the US burdening deficit leading to more supply, suggests we have crossed a 2.75 % 10Y UST bridge of no return, and the ride could get bumpier for equity investors.

The issue is not so much the 3% level but rather the pace that Bond yields have been rising in the US that is sending the markets into disarray. The rapidity of the moves has caught the markets by surprise, and we are going through the predictable panicked repricing of most asset classes.

Oil Markets

Crude prices continued to tank overnight as the commodity complex has suffered dearly due to the uptick in market volatility. But the toxic combination of rising US output and a stronger US dollar has nullified OPEC production cut momentum.

With the markets factoring in US crude production to continue hitting new record highs through 2018, the supply dynamics suggest a move below $ 60 WTI is in the offing.
Gold Markets
Gold toppled to a five-week low after the Bank of England whispered a sooner and more substantial rate rises after revising their growth and inflation forecast. The quicker than expected shift on Central Bank Monetary Policy outlooks coupled with the rapid increase in US bond yields continues to dampen investor sentiment. However, Gold prices quickly recovered as the equity market drawdowns continue to attract risk off hedges while the Syria Standoff with Turkey is offering support on the geopolitical front.
Currency Markets

The Australian Dollar

The rise in US bond yields has toppled the Aussie dollar and dented risk sentiment as global equity market continues to tumble.

Market volatility is weighing negatively on commodities, add in a dose of dovish RBA rhetoric, and therein lies the heart of the Aussie dollar woes.

Also, the Aussie was trampled on when USDCNH shot up from 6.3050 to 6.3750 as it seems that China is opening up more channels for outflows to slow RMB appreciation. (See below)

The Aussie dollar tends not to flourish in these types of markets.
The $ Bull in the China Shop: Chinese Yuan

The dollar bull was let loose in the China shop yesterday as a confluence of events had trader paring back short US dollar risk from the morning fix.

The fix came in a bit higher than expected which usually causes a bit of a move higher but, it was the article in China Economic Daily that was creating the most noise as the report urges corporates to enhance FX risk management. (Nudge Nudge)
China has also resumed its Qualified Domestic Limited Partnership plan after a two-year halt, granting licenses to about a dozen global money managers that can raise funds in China for overseas investments. While it does not have a massive Foreign Exchange flow impact,  and  more symbolic than anything else,  it is none the less suggestive that the Pboc is less sensitive to capital outflow

Given that positions were skewed short US dollar, the confluence of events had traders covering positions aggressively knowing that liquidity will be sure to dry up the closer we get to Lunar New Year.

The China trade numbers were perceived disappointing ( I have opposite view) which contributed to some currency negativity.

But from any logical perspective, it was hard to ignore the Mainland equity fire sales this week which certainly had a negative bias on currency sentiment

The Malaysian Ringgit

Negative regional currency signals abound.

The rapid repricing higher in US bond yields has taken investors by surprise. Moreover, with US yields looking to push higher, we could be in for a bit more pain before the markets find some solid footing.

Higher US yields are supporting the USD and weighing on global equity sentiment which is hurting overall regional risk appetite.

US record crude production continues to weigh negatively on oil prices.

The proximity of Chinese Lunar New year has traders paring back risk.

The market, at least for now, is hedging against the Fed potentially leaning more hawkish, which is explaining the uptick in USD, US Yields and lower equity markets.