US-China trade war, yesterday’s news.?
The US stock markets catapulted to a new record high on Thursday as investors continued to sidestep fears over the escalating global trade war and instead focused on a boomy American economy. And at least for today anyway, US-China trade war was yesterday’s news.
Make no mistake the US economy is running on all cylinders, robust growth, soaring employment and rising capital investments. Suggesting the healthy US economy is more than just a short-term knock-on effect from the intravenous elixir of easy credit and fiscal glucose. The US economy is thriving.
And when you thought the ducks were aligning for a significant push higher in oil prices, enter President Donald with yet another timely twitter castigation of OPEC. Which comes just days before OPEC, Russia and non-OPEC partners meet in Algiers this weekend to review the state of the oil market, with a focus on the likely supply impacts of US-led Iran sanctions. Another case of President Trump having his cake and trying to eat it also, as its those US imposed sanctions on Iran and Venezuela that are causing the spike in oil!!
The market had until that point been trading fluidly with the assumption that Saudi Arabia is now comfortable with Brent at $80 or even higher, which is challenging the markets long-held supposition that prompt Brent between $70 and $80 was OPEC sweet spot.
But with significant support levels holding firm and sentiment is securely buttressed by Iran sanction, politically inspired dips in a bullish market will undoubtedly be bought. The problem, however, is we’re heading into a weekend where what was initially thought to be a meeting of OPEC steering committee to discuss Oil markets current affairs, has morphed into an unofficial OPEC meeting with 20 + nations at the table, which means traders were going to profit take and reduce risk anyway. I guess President Trump brought forward that decision for traders 20 hours earlier than expected and perhaps the follow through a little thicker than anticipated.
So why the 1.5 % sell-off?
And while Saudi Arabia is revelling in these Iran sanctions, they are also worried that any sanctions-related, oil prices spike will trigger fresh criticism from Trump, especially ahead of the November election where the blame for high energy prices will squarely fall on the Trump administration ramping up geopolitical risk, for the sake of a hawkish international policy mandate.
Indeed, Saudi Arabia does fear the ” wrath of Trump ” and are taking few chances with the longshot NOPEC bill lingering, but the real question is, even if they wanted to ramp up production, could they??
The precious complex is quiet while modestly reacting to the weaker dollar but surging US Bond yields are holding back speculators and not to mention there’s nary a hedger insight with US equity markets rising above all-time high-water marks.
So where are the dollar bulls ?? more comfortable to short bonds in this market than to go long dollars, so look over at the bond desk!!
Indeed, a tangled web of confusion as USD remains doughy and while US yields didn’t lead overnight, they did hold stable support levels. Of course, the first discussion across our global trading desks was will the USD weakness linger. And the conclusion was a resounding maybe!! While the dollar was widely expected to wobble into the US midterm elections, I think that playbook trade has been brought forward by many factors that we will look at below. But ultimately USD should remain constructive post-midterms for no other reason than as the US economy is doing better than anyone else’s and the Feds will continue to raise interest rates.
The dollar leak
So modern-day forex desks are staffed by a compliment of the brightest kids, grizzled veterans and machine learning algorithms using 3000 data points, and still, no one can predict the course of the USD beyond 24 hours, well 8 hours to be exact in this market. So, forget trying to play long ball (6-month conjectures) and let’s look at some granularity that got us to the point this week where DXY/USGG10YR correlation has temporarily snapped.
EM markets have been catching the tailwind from CBT rate hike, CBR surprise rate hike, BI potential mandatory FX conversion for exporters and the RBI currency countermeasures. All of which contributed to taming the beast (USD) to various degrees. But a significant factor in adding to the current run of dollar weakness is the drop on safe-haven appeal after China suggested they won’t weaponise yuan in a trade war.
Yesterday the RBI stepped up their game as USDINR NDF fell abruptly this afternoon on wire reports suggesting RBI is studying the efficacy of taking oil companies USD demand away from the market. The state-run oil companies were now sourcing their entire dollar demand in markets, and the RBI is now considering opening a swap window to alleviate the pressure, something they have baulked at in the past.
Indeed, desperate times lead to drastic measures.
The Yuan rallied further on news that Mainland authorities are reportedly cutting import tax from most of its trading partners as soon as next month. Of course, the breadth and the actual tax % will be the key. Current estimates are the tax cut will be applied to around 1,500 consumer products. This move triggered more unwinding of trade war hedges as China will get creative to counter the adverse economic effects of US tariffs.
Trump constant attempt to undermine the Feds is also a distraction, as the markets knowing full well the Administration is lobbying for lower interest rates and a weaker USD in this trade war environment. None the less USD has put itself in the centre of discussion regarding what Fed Chair Powell is up to with Congress. Markets are chatty about this article Bloomberg
And while the Forex markets have become a point for of frustration for some, overnights the price movements appear to be more related to USD haven hedge unwinds as opposed to any long-term structural adjustments the USD as the markets remain well within well-worn ranges.
The EUR was toying with the market all week, and finally, the dollar bears got the bravado to take on the 1.1730 level which predictably triggered a cascading effect to 1.1780. So, with the USD bulls sidelined, short-term speculators seized the moment with the Euro Stoxx reaching a fresh all-time high and Bund yields moving higher pressed the 1.1730-50 zone and made a quick profit on the day.
The Japanese Yen
USDJPY is being carried higher by a higher NKY and higher USD rates
Regional Risk is very steady supported by thriving global equity markets a slightly weaker USD and a positive glean that North Korea’s leader Kim Jung-un has asked for a second summit with President Trump and has reportedly agreed to ‘verifiable’ dismantling of a missile testing site during the North/south summit.
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