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.

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.

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.

Market Jitters Remain

Market Jitters Remain

US stocks toppled again on Wednesday in choppy and messy fashion after a dispirited US Treasury auction revived concerns about a hawkish Fed, unnerving investors already spooked after the rapid climb in US Treasuries apparently ignited a jump in the Cboe Volatility index.

A deplorable auction with meek demand pushed yields on 10-year US Treasuries to 2.84 percent, up four basis points, with traders now eyeing Monday’s a four-year high of 2.88 percent.

The market is now hedging against the Fed potentially leaning more hawkish which is explaining the uptick in USD and US yields.

There was a glimmer of hope earlier in the NY session that equities markets were finding a happy medium, but the equilibrium shattered as optimism gave way to more selling when Federal Reserve Doves see the inflationary lightbulb flicker.

Fed Evans, who dissented along with Kashkari on the December rate hike, has also embraced Kashkari’s new hawkish tone post-Friday’s earnings data. While his baseline remains a hold in rates until mid-year but with on crucial commonition: “In contrast, suppose inflation picks up more assuredly, as many expect. Then, we still could easily raise rates another three or even four times in 2018 if that were necessary. And I would support such a faster pace if the data point convincingly in this direction.”

Of course, this hawkish Fed discourse has elevated market chatter this morning centring on how the  Trump Administration could react if the USD parades higher on a more hawkish Fed. It certainly makes for exciting international intrigue  to the debate in the wake of comments from ECB member Nowotny who charged that the US Treasury is deliberately putting pressure on the USD

Oil Prices

Oil prices have been getting battered by forces beyond the nodding donkey of late. The weaker narrative has been underpinning prices, but with the market shifting to a more hawkish fed description the US dollar slide has come to a blunt halt is now weighing negatively on oil prices. Notwithstanding the unforeseen disorder in the broader financial system has seeped into the oil markets.

With Oil prices ones WTI fell abruptly after the U.S. government reported crude stockpiles rose by 1.9 million barrels. But its the deluge US production that remains the most significant menace to OPEC production cuts. The bottom line is the US crude production should keep hitting new highs throughout 2018 after reaching an all-time higher of 10.25 m barrels per day. 11’s are not that far away.

Gold Prices

Stronger US dollar and higher US Treasury yields have depressed demand for Gold overnight. And with equities souring and with prices continuing to melt away, gold markets could be susceptible to a stock market rebound.

The shifting Fed narrative that is gathering hawkish following could be the most significant thorn in the Gold Bulls side.

Currency Markets

Japanese Yen

The Yen will be traded like a puppet whose strings are manipulated by equities and fixed income price movements.

Australian Dollar

The risk-off moves from Monday’s equity plunge were enough to liquidate short USD and with continued broad de-risking assignments still being played out. I suspect the Aussie bulls with remain in time out corner until we get back above .7850 and a fraction of risk appetite returns. When you view every possible trade scenario as an ambush, probably best to tread cautiously.
The Malaysian Ringgit

The re-emergence of the Federal Reserve Board Hawks and Oil prices looking very susceptible to ramped up US shale oil production continues to weigh negatively on the MYR.

But indeed, the uptick in market volatility has tamed investors appetite, so bullish signals are far and few between