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

ASEAN currencies edge higher

Sept 21 (Reuters) – Asian currencies strengthened for the
third consecutive day on Friday, supported by a weaker dollar
and shifting views over how much damage the Sino-U.S. trade war
will inflict on global demand and export-reliant regional
economies.

The dollar index has fallen more than 1 per cent this
week. Analysts said investment flows are being diverted away
from the greenback to its peers such as emerging market
currencies as trade tensions have ebbed.
“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,” said Stephen Innes,
head of trading for Asia-Pacific at OANDA in Singapore.
“Regional risk is very steady supported by thriving global
equity markets, a slightly weaker dollar and a positive glean
that North Korea’s leader Kim Jung-un has asked for a second
summit with President Trump.”

 

Reuters

US-China trade war, yesterday’s news.?

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.

Oil Markets

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??

Gold Markets.
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.

Currency Markets

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.

G-10

The Euro

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

Asia FX
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.

Join me live at 8:30 AM SGT  discussing my views on   MONEY FM 89.3 Singapore   

 

 

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

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.

No tariffs, now tariffs, what gives?

Monday September 17: Five things the markets are talking about

The possibility of a new round on tariffs on Chinese goods is not helping equity markets this Monday morning. The ‘big’ dollar is holding onto Friday’s gains as investors try and acclimatize themselves to the ever-fluid trade situation that President Trump seems to be creating himself.

Deflection or negotiation, whatever the reason, markets continue to wait for the counter punch before throwing all in. China is not expected to be a willing dance partner in proposed trade talks later this month if the Trump administration goes ahead with the additional tariffs expected later today.

Note: Tariff level likely to be around +10%, and below the +25% previously announced.

Last week, the outlook for global trade looked improved, however, true to form, inconsistency seems consistent with this Trump administration.

This week, on the central bank front, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) dominates proceedings (Sept 18). However, recent domestic data remains mixed – Q2 GDP was revised upward while monthly core-machine orders rebounded from June’s decline and PPI edged downward – and certainlgly disappointing news to Governor Kuroda’s inflation fight.

On tap: AUD monetary policy minutes (Sept 17), BoJ rate announcement (Sept 18), U.K CPI and NZD GDP (Sept 19), SNB monetary policy decision & U.K retail sales, CAD retail sales (Sept 21)

1. Stocks see mostly red

The Nikkei 225 was closed for a bank holiday.

Down-under, Aussie stocks were the best performer in the region, as other Asia-Pacific indexes struggled with Sino-U.S trade worries. The ASX 200 rose +0.3% as energy and financial stocks logged solid gains and telecom rallied +1.5%. The negatives were elder care providers due to a planned government probe into the sector. In S. Korea, the Kospi closed down -0.66% on global trade worries.

Stocks in Hong Kong finished lower while China’s main Shanghai Composite index fell to its lowest close in four-years overnight on fears that Washington is expected to unveil new tariffs on imported Chinese goods this week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended -1.3% lower, while the China Enterprises index closed down -1.1%. In China, the Shanghai Composite index dropped -1.1%, while the blue-chip CSI300 index also declined -1.1%.

In Europe, regional bourses reverse earlier losses to trade mostly unchanged after weakness in Asia.

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

Indices: Stoxx50 +0.1% at 3,348, FTSE -0.2% at 7,291, DAX -0.2% at 12,100, CAC-40 flat at 5,351; IBEX-35 +0.6% at 9,417, FTSE MIB +0.7% at 21,019, SMI -0.3% at 8,936, S&P 500 Futures -0.1%

2. Oil higher as U.S Iran sanctions raise supply concerns, gold higher

Oil prices remain better bid as the market focuses on the potential impact of U.S sanctions on Iran despite promises by Washington that the Saudis, Russia and the U.S could together raise output fast enough to offset falling supplies.

Brent crude oil is up +45c a barrel at +$78.54, while U.S light crude (WTI) is up +43c at +$69.44.

Note: Washington aims to cut Iran oil exports to force Tehran to re-negotiate a nuclear deal. Iran exports have declined by -580k bpd in the past 90-days.

On Friday, U.S Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that he did not expect any price spikes and that the world’s top three oil producers could raise global output in the next 18-months.

Also capping oil prices, U.S drillers added two oilrigs in the week to Sep. 1, bringing the total count up to 749 according to Baker Hughes energy services.

Note: A Joint Technical Committee of OPEC and non-OPEC producers are due to meet today to coordinate production.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have inched a tad higher as speculators look for short-term gains, amid increasing Sino-U.S trade tensions and prospects of further Fed interest rate hikes. Spot gold is up +0.2% at +$1,195.83 an ounce, after falling -0.6% on Friday when it marked its third straight weekly decline. U.S gold futures are down -0.1% at +$1,199.80.

3. Sweden’s Riksbank ready to hike despite low inflation

This morning minutes from Sweden’s Riksbank suggests that the board has become more tolerant of downside surprises to inflation and that it is now ready to hike rates before core-inflation has returned all the way to target.

Board members indicated that inflation expectations are “firmly anchored at the target, indicating that this is sufficient to start a very gradual tightening of the currently very expansionary monetary policy.” The bond market is pricing in a +25 bps hike in early Q1, 2019. The SEK is rallying, with EUR/SEK down -0.4% at €10.4774.

Elsewhere, the yield on U.S 10’s has fallen -1 bps to +2.99%. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield is unchanged at +0.45%, while in the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield has rallied less than -1 bps to +1.53%. The spread of Italy’s 10-year BTP’s over Bunds has narrowed -8 bps.

4. Sterling rallies on Irish border hopes

GBP (£1.3095) trades atop of the psychological £1.31 handle on optimism of progress on the Irish border question ahead of this week’s E.U summit.

E.U chief negotiator Michel Barnier is supposedly working on a plan to minimise physical checks at the Irish border by tracking goods using barcodes on shipping containers.

Note: The first of three Brexit summits will be held on Thursday, and E.U leaders hope a deal can be struck within the next two months.

EUR/USD (€1.1636) little changed. The ‘big’ dollar is expected to remain contained this week due to the absence of Tier 1 U.S data releases, while EUR gains may be capped on ongoing Italian concerns.

Emerging market currency’s trade under pressure once again on tariffs threats, with the USD/TRY over +1.6% ($6.2554) higher, while the USD/INR is +0.8% higher as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plans over the weekend to curb INR’s fall fail to lift the rupee.

5. Annual inflation down to +2.0% in the euro area

Data this morning from Eurostat showed that the euro area (19 members) annual inflation rate was +2.0% in August, down from +2.1% in July. A year earlier, the rate was +1.5%.

For the European Union (28 members) annual inflation was +2.1% in August, down from +2.2% in July. A year earlier, the rate was +1.7%.

Digging deeper, the lowest annual rates were registered in Denmark (+0.8%), Ireland and Greece (both +0.9%). The highest annual rates were recorded in Romania (+4.7%), Bulgaria (+3.7%), Estonia (+3.5%) and Hungary (+3.4%).

Forex heatmap

Battered and bruised

Battered and bruised

It was a tough week for the markets leaving many participants battered and bruised, but the great thing about this industry, is we get to do it all over again next week.

US 10y yields went on to test 3.0% Friday after a string of constructive  US data, and Fed speaks supported the market’s base case for the Fed to continue with gradual hikes through year-end. Beyond there, the Fed’s outlook remains in wait and see mode, but with US 10’s yields making a run higher, the pragmatic view supports the long USD with the AUD offering is the path of least resistance.

No surprise Trump reportedly wants to proceed with the pending tariff list of USD200bn against China amid resuming negotiations.

The never-ending ping-pong match around BREXIT continues, and the levels of market frustration are loud.

Welcome new Fed member. Mary Daly, who has been named the head of the San Fran Fed, effective October 1, meaning that Esther George will still cast a vote for the regional Fed in September. Daly was the market’s choice so no risk on the appointment.

ARS continued to struggle, despite the central bank’s non-stop attempts to support it after  “The expected disbursement of USD3bn from the International Monetary Fund to Argentina will be delayed until renewed negotiations conclude, according to an Economy Ministry spokesperson.”  Could this be a foreshadowing of a negative emerging market lean next week? So, with TRY way to expensive to short, traders could start to look at the weakest links in the chain with IDR and INR the leading candidates to express a bearish EM view.

CNH fell against USD on Trumps China tariff noise despite treasury secretary Mnuchin’s attempts to broker a trade deal with China. But USDCNH, even in the absence of trade war rhetoric, should move higher near term from the most fundamental of views.

USDCNH  remains at the epicentre of my USD views, but ECB President Draghi is playing down the risks posed by Italy’s fiscal situation, there is a definite tail risk for the EURO to crater on any Italy escalation. While Italian risk remains at the cappuccino in a coffee cup level, the EURO bears will be ready to seize the opportunity on any EU political wobbles.

But it would be sheer folly not keep an eye on the 1.1730 level which is the August high, and, on a break, we can move much higher. Draghi was much less dovish than most projected, so there is cause for the EURUSD to grind higher.

With USDJPY waking up from what feels like a 2-month slumber the BoJ meeting does take on a higher level of importance than many had expected. Its great having USDJPY back in the fold.

Oil Markets

Brent crude oil tested decent support level on Friday following up on Thursdays bearish shift in near-term sentiment driven primarily on the build in US oil products but trimmed losses into the close. While WTI dips remained supported by the larger-than-expected 5.3 million barrels decline in US inventories. But perhaps short covering as options on October WTI crude oil will expire on Monday probably influence given the markets lean. But with the risk-reward calculus not signalling a bullish setup for energy in general, in the absence of any supply disruption, the markets could struggle ahead of the OPEC meeting as oil producers were making a convincing argument that a likely downturn in the Global economy could hurt oil demand. Of course, this is from a soothsayer’s perspective. And while impossible to quantify these unknowns, what we do know it that the weaker EM currency profile would most certainly hurt consumers appetite at the tertiary level of the demand curve. But Chinese commodity demand has appeared not to be destroyed by the 25% US tariffs on $34bn as China continues to offset trade headwinds by upping fiscal spend.

In the wake of depleting oil inventories Baker Hughes US Crude Oil Drilling Rig Count hit +7 last week.

Gold Markets 

The string of positive US economic data on Friday supporting the markets base case Fed outlook, dented Golds appeal into the close. With US 10’s hitting the psychologically significant 3 % level on Friday, we could see more traders feasting with the Gold bears on Monday.