Fed and trade threats to drive markets

Monday September 24: Five things the markets are talking about

Global equities are under pressure as China called off planned trade talks with U.S, potentially triggering an escalation in the tariff war between the world’s largest economies.

Note: U.S’ tariffs on +$200B in China goods took effect at midnight, while China’s counter tariffs on +$60B of U.S goods also came into effect this morning.

Presidents Trumps’ veiled threat to OPEC to increase global crude supply was met with a tepid response over the weekend. The Saudi oil minister said that the market was adequately supplied.

The ‘big’ dollar continues to find support on pullbacks, while Treasuries trade under pressure along with Euro sovereign bonds.

Topping investors’ agenda this week is the FOMC meeting along with the Fed’s updated forecasts and the chair’s quarterly press conference (Sep 25-26). The market is looking for a third +25 bps rate hike and is pricing in another one for December. Investors await Fed chair Powell’s views on trade and tariffs.

Elsewhere, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) will also meet Wednesday (Sept 26) and no rate hike is expected. The U.K posts its final estimate of Q2 GDP, while the Eurozone releases the September flash harmonized index of consumer prices (Sept 28). Also on Friday, Canada will release its monthly GDP data for July.

1. Stocks see red

Asian volumes were light and liquidity a concern as markets in China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were closed for holidays. Both Hong Kong and South Korea will be closed on Tuesday.

Note: Despite Japanese markets closed, Japans Economy Minister Motegi and USTR Lighthizer are expected to hold trade talks today in New York. Japan is said to considering a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S.

Down-under, Aussie stocks edged lower overnight, as lower commodities prices hit materials stocks while financials slipped on new revelations of wrongdoing in the sector revealed in a quasi-judicial inquiry. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell -0.1% at the close of trade. The benchmark rose +0.4% on Friday.

In Hong Kong, stocks plummeted after the U.S imposed fresh tariffs on an additional +$200B of Chinese imports and as Beijing cancelled planned talks between the two sides. The Hang Seng Index fell -1.62%.

In Europe, regional bourses opened in the ‘red’ and continue to trade lower. Market risk sentiment continues to be impacted over trade concerns as U.S tariffs came into effect at midnight and China cancels trade talks – consumer discretionary sector among worst performers.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘red’ (-0.2%).

Indices: Stoxx50 -0.3% at 3,419, FTSE -0.1% at 7,480, DAX -0.3% at 12,389, CAC-40 -0.2% at 5,481, IBEX-35 -0.5% at 9,543, FTSE MIB -0.5% at 21,427, SMI % at , S&P 500 Futures -0.2%

2. OPEC, Russia reject Trump’s call for immediate boost to oil output

Yesterday in Algiers, both OPEC and Russia ruled out any immediate, additional increase in crude output, effectively rejecting Trump’s calls for action to “cool” the market.

The recent price rally has mainly stemmed from a decline in oil exports from OPEC member Iran due to fresh U.S sanctions.

Also, according to OPEC’s projections, a strong rise in non-OPEC production could exceed global demand growth, which could eventually put pressure on prices.

Oil prices remain better bid this Monday morning as U.S. markets tighten ahead of Washington’s plan to impose new sanctions against Iran.

Brent crude futures are at +$79.74 per barrel, up by +94c, or +1.2%. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures have rallied +74c, or +1.1%, to +$71.52 a barrel.

The market remains concerned about U.S inventory levels. U.S commercial crude oil inventories (EIA) are at their lowest level in three-years, and while output remains around the record of +11M bpd, recent subdued U.S drilling activity points towards a slowdown.

Gold prices have edged a tad lower this morning as the U.S dollar holds firm on news that China has cancelled trade talks with the U.S, while the market waits for this week’s FOMC meeting for guidance on future rate hikes. Spot gold is down -0.1% at +$1,198.36, after declining as much as -1.3% on Friday. U.S gold futures are little changed at +$1,201.60 an ounce.

3. HK interbank rates jump to 10-year highs after HKD surge

Some of the short-term rates banks in Hong Kong charge each other leapt to their highest levels in roughly a decade, in the first trading session after a sudden surge in the tightly controlled HKD.

Note: Speculators have been covering some significant ‘short’ HKD positions and the lack of liquidity has not helped the move.

The overnight HK interbank offered rate jumped +2% to +3.85%, it’s highest since 2007. One-month Hibor rose less sharply, but still reached nearly +2.17%. On Friday, HKD unexpectedly surged +0.42%, its biggest gain since 2003.

Note: The currency, which is pegged in a range of $7.75 to $7.85 to the U.S. dollar, was little changed at $7.8113.

Elsewhere, Italian government bond yields are backing up again this morning, again reflecting some unease among investors given this week’s deadline for the government to present its budget targets.

Note: ECB’s Mario Draghi speaks at the European Parliament later today, while on Wednesday; the Fed is expected to raise interest rates again.

Two-year Italian bond yields are up +4.5 bps on the day at +0.81%, while the ten-year yields are +3.5 bps higher at +2.87%. The gap over benchmark German Bunds yields have widened from Friday’s close at around +241 bps.

The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries has increased +1 bps to +3.07%. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has rallied less than +1 bps to +0.47%, while in the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield has climbed +1 bps to +1.563%.

4. Dollar hold firms, but G7 does find some support

GBP/USD (£1.3123) remains handcuffed to Brexit rhetoric and PM May woes. Sterling has begun Monday’s session on the front foot, reclaiming the psychological £1.31 handle after comments from U.K Brexit Minister Raab indicated that he is confident he will make progress on Brexit. There are also whispers that PM May has started contingency planning for possible snap election in November – however, Raab reiterated that “no election is planned.”

The EUR (€1.1770) is again wading towards the key €1.18 handle. Consensus does not expect this week’s data or monetary policy decisions to mount a serious challenge to the ‘single unit’s recent rally. The FOMC meeting is due on Wednesday, but a +25 bps increase to +2.25% is already priced into EUR/USD. The government in Italy is expected to roll out new fiscal projections, but the 2019 budget deficit will probably be set at close to +2% of GDP, which is similar to where the deficit stands now. While eurozone inflation data later this week should provide the euro with “minor support.”

The INR continues to weaken; with the USD/INR rallying to an intraday high of $72.73. There have been rumours that Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has intervened to cap dollar gains. Trade concerns continue to weigh as China cancels trade talks with the U.S.

5. German business sentiment slipped in September

Ifo data this morning showed that German business sentiment slipped this month following a sharp rise in August, as companies slightly lowered their business outlooks.

The Ifo business climate index decreased to 103.7 from an upwardly revised 103.9 in August, but still beat forecasts. The street had been looking for a decline to 103.2.

“Despite growing uncertainty, the German economy remains robust,” said Ifo president Clemens Fuest.

In manufacturing, managers were less content with the current situation in September compared with the month before. Business expectations, however, hit their highest level since February.

“Manufacturers plan to ramp up production in the months ahead,” according to the Ifo Institute.

Forex heatmap

OANDA Trading Asia markets update

Asia markets update

The weekend headlines have not been a blessing for ‘risk sentiment” and while the optimist in me is siding on this too shall pass. But with markets closed in Japan, China and South Korea as a large part of Asia celebrates the Mid-Autumn festival, it impossible to gauge sentiment in these drastically diminished liquidity conditions.

While Hong Kong markets are trading poorly but it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff after last Friday the Pboc announced they would issue T-bills via the HKMA in Hong Kong money markets, which implies driving local interest rates higher. But of course, shelving the US-China trade talks is not rated highly for local risk sentiment either, a bit of a double whammy of sorts today for Hong Kong.

However, it was unlikely that either the US or China was going to pull a rabbit out of the hat before the US midterm election anyway. However, traders remain in wait and see mode while treading rather gingerly in today Asia session. But indeed, this discussion will likely continue throughout the 24-hour trading cycle.

But overall, no one is taking anything for granted and certainly won’t underestimate the possibility of the US announcing reviews of further China tariffs at some point in time given the Trump administration ‘modus operandi’ of applying non-stop pressure.

Currencies

More risk-sensitive currencies, especially EM are feeling the pinch from weekend headlines bluster, but liquidity is extremely thin and likely contributing to some outsized moves. For reference, G-10 volumes are around 50 % lower as per EBS data. But what action we are seeing is small AUD selling.

Indian Rupee

Not too surprising the INR back under pressure from rising crude prices and domestic credit wobbles after one of the large Non-Banking Financial Companies missed an interest payment last Friday

Oil Markets

Oil investors are trading the weekend news very favourably, Saudi Arabia and Russia ruled out any expeditious supply increases at the Algeria meeting while decidedly ignoring U.S. President Trump’s call to increase supplies and ease price pressures.
Not a great deal of oil market noise today, but traders are quickly pivoting to US inventories data with some small discussion around reports that Cushing Oklahoma delivery point may have declined further in the week ended September 21. But ultimately all these noises pale in the lead up to November 4 Iran sanctions, which continue to underpin sentiment

OANDA Trading Podcast: BFM 89.9 Kuala Lumpur

A Cautious FOMC?? : dovish tail risks abound

US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell is expected to reaffirm his cautious approach to monetary policy this week, potentially paving the way for an extended rally in the Australian dollar.

The Aussie has battled back from below US71¢ less than two weeks ago and is now within reach of US73¢, helped by a muted market response to the latest trade tariff moves by the US and China and the return of a semblance of calm to emerging markets.

With the economic party raging, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to drain some more punch from the bowl,” TD economist Leslie Preston said, adding the central bank appears far from done: “We expect the Fed to hike four more times over the next year, placing the fed funds target at a peak level of 3.25 per cent in 2019.”

The challenge for investors, as it is for Fed policymakers, is more nuanced.

“We suspect the FOMC will signal in its statement the need for policy, moving forward, to potentially become more nimble when it comes to rate hikes compared to the current workmanlike (quarterly) pace,” Bank of Montreal deputy chief economist Michael Gregory. “This could mean longer-than-one-meeting pauses or none at all (the latter becomes easier with the advent of pressers after each meeting next year).

“In any event, we suspect the phrase: ‘The Committee expects that further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labour market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 per cent objective over the medium term’, might be modified.

The dot plot – or the specific rate forecasts by individual policymakers – is expected to be little changed for both 2019 and 2020.

“With two US rates hikes priced into [the balance of] 2018 and in the absence of inflation, it’s almost impossible for the Fed to bump up the 2019 curve,” OANDA’s Stephen Innes said in a weekend note.

“So, the markets will end up focusing on shifts in the long ball forecast into 2020 which is not the best or brightest of signals for currency traders who tend to view markets in much nearer time horizons,” Mr Innes said.

Australian Financial Review

By Stephen Innes Head of Trading Asia @steveinnes123

Bring on the FOMC!

EM Asia: Next weeks discussions

Please join me on Live on Monday, Sept 24  discussing cross-asset markets 

BFM Radio Kuala Lumpur  7:35 AM SGT  on the Market Watch

938Now 9:00 AM SGT for an extended view  on global markets

France 24 TV at 12:15 SGT for the European Open coverage

Jazz FM London 1:00 PM SGT discussing the Asia markets today

Bring on the FOMC !

FOMC 

The FOMC meeting next week has a hike fully priced in so the focus will be on the dot plots and the follow-up presser which has dollar bulls questioning their near-term positions.

The meeting will be overly scrutinised to see if there are any changes in the projections, with new Vice-chair Clarida voting for the first time. Also, Chair Powell will likely be quizzed on Fed Governor Lael Brainard view that US interest will probably need to be made more restrictive in the sense that at some point in the future if the unemployment rate remains low, policy rates should move above neutral and into the restrictive territory.

Dovish tail risk

And herein lies the dovish tail risk which has  USD Bulls erring on the side of caution. With 2 US rates hikes priced into  the rest of 2018 and in the absence of inflation, it’s almost impossible for the  Feds to bump up the 2019 curve. So, the markets will end up focusing on shifts in the longball forecast into 2020 which is not the best or brightest of signals for currency traders who tend to view markets in much nearer time horizons. Even if the Feds prod 2020 curve higher, its unclear how much of a USD fillip that shift could deliver given that Chair Jay Powell has contiued to de-emphasise 2020 dots. Unless we get an unexpected shift in the Feds terminal policy range of 2.75-3.00%, not sure the dollar ( X -JPY) goes anywhere but trades within well-worn ranges.

What else in G-10?

AS for the rest of G10, there will be no shift from RBNZ, but in the wake of the surprisingly strong data of late especially the monster GDP beat, we could see a subtle less dovish change in guidance.

It’s not a busy calendar next week per say but dotted by US PCE and EUR sentiment surveys. Canada delivers a GDP report, but NAFTA talks will continue to overshadow data as yet another NAFTA month-end deadline looms.

Brexit Blues 

It’s back to the Brexit drawing board after EU leaders “Chequers mated “and utterly humiliated May at the Salzburg meeting which sent the Pound tumbling below the 1.3100 before finding some composure. Of course, most believe a deal in some form or another will eventually happen. But in the nub of all this Brexit bluster, UK data has been surging with both CPI and Retail Sales beating expectations, but indeed  Brexit uncertainty has overshadowed.  Next week’s UK GDP data could be another strong point, however, with little to no breakthrough on Brexit likely to happen any time soon, The Bank of England will remain unwavering until clarity on Brexit it offered up so the market will likely look past next weeks UK data.

Great insights from our Senior Markets Analyst in London, Craig Erlam  

Sterling Down on May Brexit Warnings

OANDA Market Insights podcast (episode 32)

Craig reviews the week’s business and market news with Jazz FM Business Breakfast presenter Jonny Hart.

This week’s big stories: Sterling wobbles on Brexit fears, US/China tariffs tit for tat, Inflation hike against expectations.

China 

China PMI which will be closely monitored. Also, we should expect more trade headlines to come into play as both US and China tease with the idea of resurrecting trade talks.

USD Price Action 

Gauging this weeks price action in the wake of Trump tariff announcement, the markets overwhelming viewed the 10 % on 200 billion tariff levy and the measured responses from China as a smoke signal for further negotiation shortly. So the unwind of global USD hedges ensued as the market just found themselves far too long USD at not such grand levels. But the robust fundamental storyline in the US economy coupled with weak PMI data in Eurozone this week, I don’t think we’ve heard the last from the dollar bulls just yet.

Currencies in focus next week

EUR: a huge disappointment to the bulls with a close below 1.1750. While Fed forward guidance will drive the bus next week, the negative  EU PMI lean could hang like an anvil around the EURO neck.

CNH: It has to be on everyone’s radar especially after this weeks exodus of long USD hedge position on a combination of Trade war de-escalation, comments that mainland will not weaponise the Yuan as a tool in the trade war and offshore funding squeeze on the back Pboc to sell bills in Hong Kong. Despite the correction lower in USDCNH, given that China’s current account surplus is expected to shrink as a result of US tariffs and if the Feds signal clear dot plot sailing or even shift slight higher, CNH could sell off again.

Oil markets

Traders will pay close attention to Sunday headlines from Algiers as OPEC, and cooperating non-OPEC producers will meet on Sunday in Algeria

Likely seeking to appease President Trump, unnamed members of OPEC suggested they would discuss adding 500 K barrels per day, and while it gave cause to book some profit and reduce risk, its highly unlikely anything dealing with supplies will happen before the December 3 OPEC summit.

Despite wire reports suggestions otherwise, most of the oil traders in my circle, and despite the usual OPEC headline noise, think the meeting will be little more than the steering committee review of production and market data.

Please join me on Live on Monday discussing cross-asset markets 

BFM Radio Kuala Lumpur  7:35 AM SGT  on the Market Watch

938Now 9:00 AM SGT for an extended view  on global markets

France 24 TV at 12:15 SGT for the European Open coverage

Jazz FM London 1:00 PM SGT discussing the Asia markets today

 

 

 

 

Central Banks up the ante to normalize interest rates

Friday September 21: Five things the markets are talking about

Aside from trade, tariff and retaliation, central banks are upping the ante to “normalize” interest rates.

This week, Norway’s Norges Bank has joined the BoE, and the central banks of the Czech Republic and Romania in withdrawing some of its stimulus, while Sweden’s Riksbank has indicated that it may raise its key rate before the end of the year. The ECB plans to end QE this December, while next week the Fed is expected to hike +25 bps (Sep 26) – the market will be looking for any comments on the impact of escalating trade tensions.

Earlier this week the BoJ kept its stimulus policy unchanged, however, the move overnight to cut the purchases of super long-bonds would suggest that the period of easy-money era is ending. In Hong Kong, the HKD has surged the most in 15-years in part due to the prospect for higher interest rates there.

There are a number of EM hotspots that the market is also focusing on, in particular – Turkey & South Africa. The lack of details on how Turkey can achieve a soft landing for an economy that topped the G20 growth charts in 2017/18 continues to contribute to a volatile TRY, but a plan is forthcoming.

While in South Africa this morning, President Ramaphosa announced details of a stimulus package to take immediate effect to battle the country’s technical recession.

With trade war concerns receding in the background, the U.S dollar is on track to close out the week trading atop of its seven-month lows against G10 currency pairs as stronger equity markets and rising bond yields encourage investors to purchase riskier assets.

Note: Expect today’s session to be volatile as its quadruple witching – futures and options on indexes and individual stocks expire.

On tap: Canadian CPI and retail sales at 08:30 am EDT

1. Stocks rally to records

With Wall Street indexes hitting a record high again yesterday has encouraged Asian and Euro bourses to take flight.

In Japan, equities rallied to an eight-month high, with noted gains in insurance, energy, and shipping stocks. The Nikkei did fade late, but still gained +0.8%. Financials were helped by the BoJ’s offer to buy less super-long bonds. The broader Topix gained +0.9% to hit a four-month high.

Down-under, the Aussie stock market again underperformed in the region overnight. The S&P/ASX 200 finished up +0.4%. The index ticked up +0.5% for the week, a second consecutive modest gain. Providing intraday pressure were utilities, which lost -0.5% last night, but consumer staples rallied that much while materials jumped a further +1.5% and IT climbed +2.2%. In S. Korea, the Kospi closed +0.68% higher on Friday as investors risk appetite recovered. For the week, the benchmark index climbed +0.9%.

In China, stocks surged overnight before a long holiday weekend, with investor sentiment boosted by hopes that a government effort to boost domestic demand could help offset effects of an escalating trade war. At the close, the blue-chip CSI300 index rallied +3.0%, its biggest one-day gain in four-months. The Shanghai Composite Index gained +2.5%, closing out its best week in six months.

In Hong Kong, stocks ended higher for a fourth consecutive session overnight, helped by consumer and technology shares, as sentiment improved after the Sino-U.S trade war unfolded in ways less damaging than feared. The Hang Seng index ended +1.73% higher, while the China Enterprises Index closed +2.17% firmer.

In Europe, regional bourses continue to rise despite sluggish PMI results. In the U.K, the FTSE is supported by positive Brexit comments, while in Italy; bourses are supported by budget talks.

Note: Expect stock markets to be influenced by today’s quadruple witching hour.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘black’ (+0.1%).

Indices: Stoxx50 +0.7% at 3,428, FTSE +0.8% at 7,429, DAX +0.7% at 12,418, CAC-40 +0.8% at 5,494, IBEX-35 +0.6% at 9,639, FTSE MIB +0.9% at 21,588, SMI

2. Oil higher on supply worries, but Trump’s call for lower prices drags

Oil prices are a tad higher this morning after falling in yesterday’s session as U.S President Donald Trump urged OPEC to lower crude prices at its meeting in Algeria this weekend (Sep 23).

Note: OPEC and its allies are scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss how to allocate supply increases to offset a shortage of Iran supplies due to U.S sanctions.

Brent crude for November delivery is up +26c, or +0.33%, at +$78.96 a barrel, while
U.S West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery is up +7c, or +0.10% at +$70.39 a barrel.

Trump took to twitter and called on OPEC to lower prices, saying, “they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices”.

Trump’s veiled threats are unlikely to force OPEC and its allies to agree to an official increase in crude output on Sunday.

The fact that Sino-U.S trade tensions have somewhat dissipated is helping precious metal prices. Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices remain better bid on the back of a weaker U.S dollar and are heading for its first weekly gain in a month. Spot gold is up +0.3% at +$1,210.68, after touching its highest since Sept. 13 at +$1,211.02. It has rallied +1.3% so far this week. U.S gold futures are up +0.3% at +$1,215 per ounce.

3. Italian bond yields fall as investors await budget clarity

Italian bond yields are under some pressure this morning as the market awaits clarity on the 2019 budget and after the 5-Star Movement denied a report that Deputy PM Di Maio had threatened to pull his party out of the government.

An ISTAT report shows that the budget deficit as a proportion of national output was slightly higher last year than previously estimated, but that debt was lower also helped to push down yields.

Italian BTP yields are down -5 bps along the curve, having jumped by up to +12 bps yesterday. Elsewhere, Germany’s 10-year Bund yield has eased to +0.47% as some Euro investors returned to safe-haven assets.

Note: Bunds backed up to a four-month high of +0.506% Wednesday, but have struggled to maintain this level, rallying back down after renewed Brexit concerns and the infighting in the Italian government.

In Japan, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) has cut its purchase of super long JGB’s. This has send Japanese yields to 2018 highs. The 40-year yield has jumped +5 bps to +1.04% while 10’s gained +1.5 bp to +0.13%.

Stateside, the yield on 10-year Treasuries has jumped + 2 bps to +3.08%, the highest in more than four-months.

4. Hong Kong dollar spikes

Expectations of a rise in bank lending rates and tightness in cash supplies caused a sharp spike in HKD overnight, pulling it off the weak end of its narrow trading band it had been stuck in for the six-months.

The HKD rallied to $7.8244, hitting its highest levels since late February. Since March, it had stayed near $7.85, the lower end of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s (HKMA) managed trading band.

USD/INR rose to an intraday high of $72.47 before fading after a sharp spike lower in Indian Indices on liquidity concerns of Indian Housing name Dewan Housing.

ZAR (+0.46% to $14.2629) found support after S. African President Ramaphosa announced a number of policy reform plans this morning, including re-prioritising +$3.5B of public spending to boost economic growth and create jobs.

GBP/USD (£1.3185) falls from yesterday’s highs as the E.U warns the U.K of a possible “no-deal” Brexit. Initial support is around £1.3171.

5. Euro zone business growth eased

Data this morning showed that Euro zone business growth eased this month although optimism picked up a tad from last month’s two-year low.

Nevertheless, growth remained robust and firms were able to increase prices, which should keep the ECB happy.

Digging deeper, there remains a divergence between services and manufacturing – the dominant service industry beat forecasts for no change in the pace of growth from last month. IHS Markit’s Euro Zone Services Flash Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 54.7 from 54.4.

Manufacturers however failed to live up to expectations. The factory PMI slumped to a two-year low of 53.3 from 54.6 – the market was looking for 54.4.

Divergence raises the question, how long can you maintain a strong service sector growth without an upbeat manufacturing sector?

Forex heatmap

U.S safe-haven appeal diminishes

Thursday September 20: Five things the markets are talking about

It’s not been easy, two and two do not add up when trading these Twitter directional asset classes. Fundamentals have been temporary ignored as the ‘lemming’ trades takes a grip.

Fading market fears over a Sino-U.S trade row has the U.S dollar trading within striking distance of its two-month lows. Even emerging-market currency pairs have found some traction after China said it would not retaliate with competitive currency devaluations.

Global equities are beginning to struggle as U.S yields approach their highest level this year.

In Europe, U.K Consumer spending remains buoyant despite Brexit uncertainties. Norway raises interest rates for the first time in seven-years and the Swiss kept rates on hold.

1. Stocks mixed results

In Japan, the Nikkei ended little changed overnight as an extended rally in financial sector was largely offset by profit taking after this weeks rally. The Nikkei inched up +0.01%, just about staying in positive territory for the fifth consecutive session. The broader Topix added +0.11%.

Down-under, Aussie shares slipped overnight, led lower by banks and consumer staples as investors shifted funds to emerging markets as they became less worried about a U.S-China trade war. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell -0.3% at the close of trade. The benchmark gained +0.5% yesterday. In S. Korea, the Kospi index rallied +0.65%, supported again mostly by Samsung.

Stocks in China fell overnight, as investor sentiment remained fragile following the latest hit of tariffs in the Sino-U.S. trade war. At the close, the Shanghai Composite index and the blue-chip CSI300 index were both down -0.1%.

In Hong Kong, there were mixed results as some investors held on to hopes that China and the U.S would eventually reach an agreement to avert an all-out trade war. The Hang Seng Index rose +0.26%, while the Shanghai Composite Index slipped -0.06%.

In Europe, regional bourses have opened broadly higher. Market will focus on the ‘informal’ E.U leaders summit comments.

U.S stocks are set to open little changed (+0.0%).

Indices: Stoxx50 +0.3% at 3,379, FTSE +0.1% at 7,334, DAX +0.2% at 12,248, CAC-40 +0.4% at 5,415, IBEX-35 +0.4% at 9,526, FTSE MIB +0.5% at 21,396, SMI +0.4% at 8,974, S&P 500 Futures flat

2. Oil steady, supported by U.S. stocks and supply concerns

Oil prices trade steady, nevertheless, the market remains a tad better ‘bullish’ after this week’s U.S crude inventory reports and on signs that OPEC may not raise production enough to compensate for the loss of Iranian exports hit by U.S. sanctions.

Brent crude oil is unchanged at +$79.40 a barrel, while U.S light crude oil is +40c higher at +$71.52 after rising nearly +2% in yesterday’s session.

Note: Brent has been trading below $80 for the past week after conflicting reports of the market views of Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer in OPEC. They wanted oil to stay between +$70 and +$80 a barrel for now, seeking a balance between maximizing revenue and keeping a lid on prices until U.S midterms. However, giving the market a bid undertone are reports yesterday indicating that the Saudi’s were happy with prices above +$80 a barrel.

EIA data Wednesday showed that U.S crude oil stockpiles fell for a fifth consecutive week to a three-year low in the week to Sept. 14, while gas stocks also showed a larger than expected draw on unseasonably strong demand. Crude inventories fell by -2.1m barrels, compared with expectations for a decrease of -2.7m.

Note: OPEC and other producers, including Russia, meet on Sunday in Algeria to discuss how to allocate supply increases to offset the loss of Iranian barrels.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have inched higher as the ‘big’ dollar softened amid easing Sino-U.S trade tensions. Nevertheless, expect investors to remain cautious ahead of next week’s Fed meeting. Spot gold is up +0.1% at +$1,204.69, after rising +0.5%yesterday.

3. Norway hikes rates for the first time in seven years, SNB on hold

Earlier this morning, Norway’s central bank hiked its key interest rate for the first time in more than seven-years. Norges Bank increased the rate to +0.75% from +0.5%.

The central bank said another rate increase is likely in the first three months of next year, with a gradual series of moves taking it to +2% by the end of 2021.

“If the key policy rate is kept at the current level for too long, price and wage inflation may accelerate and financial imbalances build up further,” said Governor Olsen. “That would increase the risk of a sharp economic downturn further out.”

Note: Sweden has also indicated that it may raise its key rate before the end of the year, while the ECB plans to end QE in December.

Elsewhere, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) kept its deposit rate at -0.75%, as expected. The accompanying statement painted two different pictures – the negative rate and willingness to intervene in FX markets “remain essential in order to keep the attractiveness of CHF low and thus ease pressure on the currency.” That said, policy makers also painted a brighter economic future and raised its 2018 GDP forecast to between +2.5% and +3%.

4. Dollar downfall

The CHF ($0.9659) is a tad weaker after the Swiss National Bank (SNB) left rates on hold. The fact that the franc remains “highly valued and has appreciated noticeably” has investors wary of the bank’s next moves.

EUR/NOK (€9.6068) initially fell following the Norges rate hike, but has since reversed and is trading down -1% outright after the bank cut its policy rate forecasts.

GBP/USD (£1.3226) has rallied sharply, again testing yesterday’s intraday highs, on Brexit talk and on stronger than expected U.K retail sales (see below).

USD/ZAR is down by -1.5% at $14.4793 – some investors are anticipating a surprised rate hike this morning. Nevertheless, the consensus expects rates to remain unchanged, given that prices remain within the bank’s inflation target range and that the economy has slid into a recession.

5. U.K retail sales slowed in August

Data this morning showed that U.K. retail sales slowed in August but continued to point to buoyant consumer spending in Q3, which suggests that the economy has kept expanding despite uncertainty over Brexit.

According to the ONS, U.K retail sales rose +0.3% on month in August, after a revised +0.9% rise in July.

Digging deeper, consumer spending continues to power the U.K economy as sales increased across most store categories with the exception of food and clothing outlets.

But is it sustainable, given high inflation, low wage growth and rising interest rates? Uncertainty over the U.K’s future continues to deter investment.

Forex heatmap

OANDA Trading Asia market closing note : Irrational exuberance ? YUAN

Irrational exuberance? YUAN

EM Asia currencies

The Yuan

Could be little more than a case of irrational exuberance as the markets have completely latched on to Premier Li Keqiang comments which, at the World Economic Forum, said China would not devalue the currency to stimulate exports and as one would expect the Australian dollar is getting taken along for the ride

Traders are positioning long USDCNH based a weaker RMB currency profile that was thought would underpin domestic economic activity and possibly prop-up equity markets. So, if the US does ramp up tariffs, I’m not sure what possible counter-strategy mainland authorities would implement that would be as easy and as impactful as steering the Yuan weaker. None the less the USD has been trading broadly weaker on the news despite my overly pessimistic view of the current proceedings.

The Thai Baht

Despite the BoT leaving its policy rate unchanged at 1.50%, USDTHB is dipping lower to June levels. . The markets are viewing the two dissenting votes as hawkish. But the THB has been an excellent regional haven play as its been pretty insulated from the trade war fracas. A hefty current account surplus will do that for you in this environment, not to mention tourists aren’t about to skirt BKK anytime soon and that industry provided nearly 20 % of GDP.

G-10

The Euro 
Once again, the Euro has a spring in its step in early London trade. However, pushing through the August high of 1.1730 remains critical for a substantial extension. Frankly, the EURUSD is where the near-term US dollar (X JPY) battle lines are forming as the ECB has shifted less dovish and should continue to so with Italian risk falling. But Brainard has signalled the Fed intentions, so the battle lines are forming around 1.1730

 

US yields take a runner.

One could expect a bit of apprehension to enter the fray, and traders to tap the brakes not just from a relief rally hangover perspective, but local bond and currency traders could start looking over their shoulders at US 10y bond yields that have raced higher to 3.05 %.

While everyone thought US bond yields could begin to rise in September as the markets emerged from summer holiday, but few could have predicted returns to come on as strong as the did with US 10Y touching to 3.05 %
While last NFP data produced robust wage growth data, I think its as much a function of hawkish fed speak as anything else.

The most significant shift in my view comes from Fed Governor Lael Brainard, who I dare say it was starting to roost with the Hawk suggesting the sitting Federal Reserve Board is a tad more hawkish than markets have priced.

While last week lower than expected US CPI, print does suggest we are nowhere near a reprice higher of the Fed curve from an inflationary standpoint.

But with the market emerging from its summer slumber and the US economy rocking on overdrive, traders may soon realise that they are pricing 2019 rate hike risk far too pessimistically. If the strong run of US economic data continues and an even more so on the first glint of inflation.

The pragmatist in me says this is USD supportive and not an especially appealing prospect for local Asia markets, in my view.

US yields on a runner

US yields on a runner

One could expect a bit of apprehension to enter the fray, and not just from a relief rally hangover, but local bond and currency traders could start looking over their shoulders at US 10y bond yields that have raced higher to 3.05 %.

While everyone thought US bond yields could begin to rise in September as the markets emerged from summer holiday, but few could have predicted yields to come on as strong as the did with US 10Y touching to 3.05 %
While last NFP data produced strong wage growth data I think its as much a function of hawkish fed speak as anything else Where the most significant shift in my view comes from Fed Governor Lael Brainard, who I dare say it starting to roost with the Hawk suggesting the sitting Federal Reserve Board is a tad more hawkish than markets have priced in.

While last week lower than expected US CPI, print does suggest we are nowhere near a reprice higher of the Fed curve from an inflationary standpoint

But with the market emerging from its summer slumber and the US economy rocking on overdrive, traders may soon realise that they are pricing 2019 rate hike risk far too pessimistically. If the strong run of US economic data continues and an even more so on the first glint of inflation.

The pragmatist in me says this is USD supportive and not an especially appealing prospect for local Asia markets, in my view

Tariffs? – So what!

Where to hide? That’s the next million-dollar question

Tuesday September 18: Five things the markets are talking about

It was coming, the market new it was coming, just when, and how much, were the unknown variables.

President Trump has imposed an additional +10% tariffs on about +$200B worth of imports from China, rising to +25% by the turn of the New Year. Trump has threatened additional duties on about +$267B more if China contemplates hitting back on the latest U.S action, beginning next Monday.

Of course China is going to retaliate, but how, is part of the guessing game – “to protect its legitimate rights and interests and order in international free trade, China is left with no choice but to retaliate simultaneously.”

There are a few tech exceptions – which benefit Apple/Fitbit for now – and the tiered deployment is to help U.S companies find alternative supply chains. However, if the U.S needs to go to phase three, it would consume all remaining U.S imports from China and Apple products and its competitors would not be spared.

The problem for China is that they do not import enough U.S goods to go head-to-head with the U.S leverage strategy. They will want to cause U.S pain and will probably focus even more on the tech sector. Nevertheless, watch the Yuan’s value, it may be one of China’s strongest weapons. It has weakened by about -6.0% in the past three-months, offsetting any -10% tariff rate by a substantial margin.

From an asset price viewpoint, it’s been a rather ‘subdued’ reaction to Trump’s announcement. Buying U.S dollars in response to trade conflicts does not seem to be as appealing anymore. The delay in imposing +25% tariffs may explain the lack of movement, in addition to the fact that the tariffs have been widely anticipated.

1. Stocks mixed results

In Japan, the Nikkei rallied overnight to its highest close in seven-months, led by insurers thanks to rising U.S Treasury yields. However, no surprises, capping gains were electronic suppliers, which underperformed as the market weighs the new U.S China, tariff impact. The index closed out +1.4% higher, while the broader Topix rallied +1.8%.

Down-under, materials and energy stocks pushed Aussie equities lower as the escalating Sino-U.S trade war pressured commodity and oil prices. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell -0.4% at the close. The index rallied +0.3% yesterday. In S. Korea, the Kospi stock index closed +0.26% higher along with some of its regional bourses as Chinese markets largely shrugged off trade tariff threats.

In China, stocks staged a late rebound as the blue-chip index CSI300 rallied +1.9% as some investors bet that authorities will increase their investment in infrastructure to offset the impact of the latest tariff penalties from Trump. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index closed out +0.6% higher.

In Europe, regional bourses have shrugged off early weakness following the ‘telegraphed’ U.S tariff announcement after the yesterday’s U.S close. Autos lead the gains, while the materials sector and consumer discretionary are under early pressure.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘black’ (+0.2%).

Indices: Stoxx50 +0.5% at 3,363, FTSE +0.1% at 7,318, DAX +0.6% at 12,164, CAC-40 +0.6% at 5,383; IBEX-35 +0.4% at 9,446, FTSE MIB +0.2% at 21,148, SMI -0.3% at 8,908, S&P 500 Futures +0.2%

2. Oil prices fall as U.S-China trade war questions demand, gold lower

Oil markets have eased a tad as the Sino-U.S trade war questions the outlook for crude demand from the world’s two largest economies.

Brent crude futures have dropped -29c, or -0.37% to +$77.76 per barrel, while U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude is down -15c, or -0.22%, at +$68.76 per barrel.

U.S crude ‘bears’ believe that these tariffs are likely to limit economic activity in both China and the U.S – a hit to growth is a hit to consumption.

Note: Refineries stateside consumed about +17.7m bpd of crude oil last week, while China’s refiners used about +11.8m last month.

Crude ‘bulls’ are currently clinging to the potential supply cuts caused by U.S sanctions on Iran (third-largest producer in OPEC) as reason enough to support short-term oil prices.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices are under pressure as the ‘big’ dollar steadies amid concerns of an escalation in Sino-U.S trade tensions. Spot gold is -0.3% lower at +$1,197.51 an ounce, after rising +0.6% in Monday’s session. U.S gold futures are down -0.3% at +$1,202.20 an ounce.

However, if the ‘big’ dollar loses its ‘tariff haven’ appeal, expect the ‘yellow’ metal to find support on pullbacks.

3. Sovereign yields rally

U.S Treasury yields have backed up along the curve on growing expectations that the Fed could raise interest rates a few more times this year after recent data showed wages spiking last month, elevating concerns about inflation.

Note: U.S data last week showed that wages in August posted their largest annual increase in more than nine-years, rising +0.4% m/m and +2.9% y/y.

Yesterday, U.S 10’s touched +3.022%, the highest level in four-months, along with U.S 30-year yields at +3.159%. As to be expected, the short end rallied to a 10-year high, backing up to +2.799%.

Elsewhere, German Bund yields continue drifting upward to the +0.50% level amid better sentiment around Italy. The 10-year Bund yield is trading at +0.46%, up +0.05%. In the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield has rallied +1 bps to +1.536%.

4. Dollar muted reaction

EUR/USD (€1.1680) shows a muted reaction to the U.S announcement that it will charge +10% on another +$200B of Chinese imports starting from next Monday. Typically trade tensions have been positive for the ‘big’ dollar; maybe attitudes will change once China shows its hand.

GBP/USD (£1.3126) pulls back from recent six-week highs as the market awaits Thursday’s E.U summit.

TRY ($6.3670) continues to weaken, down another -0.7% as investors remain confident in fading last weeks bigger than expected Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) rate hike.

An interest rate increase by the Norges Bank on Thursday is widely expected and already broadly priced into EUR/NOK (€9.5406). However, NOK bulls believe the central bank will likely signal more rate increases, which should provide further support for this commodity currency.

5. Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) stays true to its ‘hawkish’ stance

In its minutes released overnight there were no surprises. The RBA maintained its interest-rate guidance in the minutes from its meeting a fortnight ago, reiterating that increases will eventually come amid anticipated economic strength.

RBA also noted that a number of G10 central banks, including the Fed, were expected to continuing rate hikes. This had been reflected in the markets, “most notably a broad-based appreciation of the US dollar” that “raised risks” for some, especially for “fragile emerging” markets. However, “the modest depreciation of the AUD was helpful for domestic economic growth.”

The copy and recent rhetoric suggests that Aussie policy makers remains highly confident its current stance – interest rates at record lows will ultimately bring lower unemployment, higher wage growth and an uptick in inflation over time.

Forex heatmap

Seeing the forest for the trees

Seeing the forest for the trees

With trade war dominating the landscape, even more so after this morning’s US tariff headline, it’s easy to focus on markets from a one-dimensional perspective. But cross-asset trading is multidimensional and observing the more granular details can offer much-needed clarity in these difficult times.

US Markets

Certainly, Trade war worries are talking their tool on global equities with even the Teflon US markets showing some fraying at the edges. But today’s compass suggests trade-related global equity weakness is due to tech, as opposed to emerging markets or China. Apple, for example, does a booming bilateral business with China and with investors veering to the notion that recent weakness in U.S. tech is a result of administration earlier tariffs then a 200 billion wallop is being perceived particularly damning even for the remarkably resilient US heavyweights in the tech sector.

Ultimately equity markets remain in wait an see as big unknown remains Chinas response which will set the tone for risk sentiment. After all, much of this tariff headline was well telegraphed.

We know China can’t go tit for tat as they don’t have enough US goods to tax. So, if there is a more heavy-handed approach such as flat-out import restriction or overtly weakening the Yuan, it could certainly bring the big market bears out of hibernation.

With the US  implementing a graduated tariff hike, starting with 10 % on 200 billion and moving to 25 % at the start of 2019. The ball is clearly in China’s court. While the   US tariffs salvo is hardly middling, it’s not a bad as it could have been, so unless China hits with draconian measures, markets should remain supported after this morning knee-jerk reactions. Ultimately the graduated tariff hike allows more room to negotiate before the thumping 25 % levy gets triggered, so perhaps China may temper their response accordingly.

Smartwatches and Bluetooth devices were removed from the tariff list, suggesting the President is “watching” the market while taking the US heavyweight giants and US consumer under consideration.

Oil Prices
Iran sanctions will continue to provide near-term support, while discussions around global demand in the wake of this morning tariffs and speculation of further OPEC supply increases should temper upside ambitions.

Oil futures posted a minor loss on Monday. After finding some support from potential global supply losses among various OPEC countries (Iran and Venezuela). But prices eventually gave way and are tracking the CRB index lower pressured on the prospects that US tariff will negatively impact global demand.

Also, Washington continues to suggest that Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States can raise output fast enough to offset falling supplies from Iran.

The September 23 OPEC+ meeting in Algiers is taking on a bit of life of a life of its own as what was initially thought to be a be a fundamental review of production data by OPEC’s steering committee has now turned into 20+ nation affair. Suggesting everyone wants a seat at the table most likely to discuss the supply disruption from Iranian sanctions, which is leading to speculation that further production increases will be presented at the meeting.

Gold Markets

Another case of rinse and repeat
A modestly weaker dollar and aggressive short-covering pushed gold above the $1200 teeter-totter level, this despite a more hawkish lean from Fed-speak last week. Besides, haven buyers continued showing some bravado felling more confident buying gold when the dollar is fading which is provided with a subtle tailwind for prices overnight as investors brace for possible more massive tariffs than what’s currently priced into the markets. But price action remains entirely dollar driven. So, what the dollar giveth the dollar taketh as USD haven demand is back in vogue post-trade announcement.

Further risk response will be dependant on China response.

Currency Markets

I am challenged not dollar bullish from a pragmatic US interest rate storyline. But of course, price action needs to be respected especially with the EUR veering towards 1.1700 again. The strong US economy suggests USD yields have further room to run. And when former doves like Fed Governor Lael Brainard, who I dare say, is starting to roost with the Hawks, it’s giving clear signals that this sitting Fed is more hawkish than the markets 2019 rates lean.

The Chinese Yaun 

The primary trade war currency hedge is back in play with USDCNH moving above 6.89 as the market awaits Chinas response. But seller should emerge given how quick the market response has been to take USDCNH higher and the uncertainty over Pboc’s next move.

Euro

With Trade ware dominating headlines early Monday morning it’s easy to overlook some basics shift in EU zone fear index with European Bank Index and CDS curve suggesting Italy’s risk premium is getting priced out the equation. Even Turkey, despite another currency wobble yesterday, is stabilising somewhat on the recent astonishing CBT rate hike. The diminishing fear factors could push Bund higher and provide support for the Euro.

Australian Dollar

The Australian Dollar has weakened on the 20 pips on the tariff news in consort with USDCNH moving higher as the Aussie will remain a G-10 proxy for China risk, so it’s susceptible to more headline wobbles in coming days especially China response which could be extremely crucial for risk sentiment. But so far, the Aussie reaction is pretty much following the tariff playbook.

We do have the RBA, but I suspect its unlikely to alter today’s negative Aussie lean.

Japanese Yen
Risk has wobbled on the Trade headline triggering some modest haven moves to the Yen. But volumes are light, as frankly market at his stage are not panicking as the bulk of this tariff headline was already factored.

Canadian Dollar

The Lonnie is sagging, but this is possibly more about positioning as the markets found themselves short around the 1.3000, and with the CAD $ Perma -bears failing to yield that level,  the tariff headlines have triggered more short covering. But moves toward towards 1.3100 will likely be faded as NAFTA discussion are still going on.

Malaysian Ringgit

The recent support for EM central banks (Russian, Turkey and India) is buffeting the EM complex.
The 200 billion in tariffs, while negative for regional sentiment, is not as impactful for the Ringgit as the currency remains relatively insulated due to domestic oil exports and improved term s of trade. But higher US interest rates do pose some significant concerns, especially if a more hawkish fed vs a more dovish BNM does come to fruition.