Dollar Rally Ends With Trump Monetary Policy and Currency War Comments

The USD fell against major pairs on Friday after US President Donald Trump tweeted that China and the EU manipulate their currency. Trade war escalation has reached a second phase at a time when American politics are having an identity crisis with the ongoing Russian interference during the 2016 elections. Steven Mnuchin will head to Buenos Aires to take part in the finance ministers G20 meeting with trade and monetary policies sure to be a topic of discussion. The European Central Bank (ECB) will announce its main refinancing rate on Thursday, July 26 at 7:45 am EDT with little expectations of a change. ECB President Mario Draghi will host a press conference at 8:30 am EDT with the market focused on his comments for insights into the monetary policy of the central bank.

  • US President worried about Fed’s monetary policy triggers currency war
  • European Central Bank meeting anticipated to be a quiet affair
  • Canadian inflation and retail sales beat expectations

EUR Rises Ahead of ECB as Currency War Concerns Rise

The EUR/USD gained 0.28 percent in the last week. The single currency is trading at 1.1717 after a volatile week is over. The EUR rose 0.73 percent on Friday as Trump’s comments on currency manipulation hit the newswires. The US dollar had fallen on Thursday after President Trump criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve for raising rates and eroding the competitiveness of American products.



In an interview with CNBC the US President said he was not thrilled with the path of interest rates, although he did mention that he would let them do what they feel is best. Earlier in the week Fed Chair Powell testified before the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee side-stepping any comments on trade spats.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has hiked two times already in 2018 leaving the benchmark rate at 175 to 200 basis points. The CME FedWatch tool shows a 86.9 percent chance of a September rate hike and 53.9 percent of a follow up in December. Both sets of probabilities where higher on Wednesday before Trump’s comments were released.

The economic calendar will not feature a large number of North American indicators with the main standout being the release of the first estimate of the US GDP data on Friday, July 27. Analysts forecast a rise of 4.1 percent and could serve as an antidote to Trump’s tweets. The European Central Bank (ECB) will feature on Thursday, but there is little expectation that new guidance will be provided after the June monetary policy meeting.

Loonie Higher on Strong Retail Sales and Inflation Data

The Canadian dollar rose on Friday after the release of retail sales and inflation data. The USD/CAD DROPPED 0.05 percent on a weekly basis. The currency pair is trading at 1.3146 after Canadian retail sales surprised with a 2 percent rise to a seven month high boosted by auto and gasoline sales on Friday. Inflation rose 2.5 on an annual basis in June also impacted by higher gasoline prices. The economic indicators validate the decision of the Bank of Canada (BoC) earlier this month to hike rates by 25 basis points and could further pressure the central bank to lift rates higher despite growing geopolitical headwinds.


Canadian dollar weekly graph July 16, 2018

The US dollar has been on a downward trend since President Trump issued some sharp criticism on the U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy. The comments took the market by surprise as talking about the currency is not usually the job of the President, but rather the Treasury Secretary. The statements will most likely be discussed as the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires kicks off.

The US President continued to tweet about the unfair strength of the greenback which responded by falling more than 1 percent against the Canadian dollar.

Oil prices recovered from losses earlier in the week but West Texas Intermediate will finish below $70 after concerns about the increase in supply outstripping rising demand.

The GBP/USD dropped 0.76 percent in the last five days. The currency pari is trading at 1.3133 with political headwinds keeping the pound under pressure. The confusing Brexit strategy from the UK government could end up costing Prime Minister May her job as she scrambles to call an early summer recess to avoid challenge to her leadership.



The Bank of England (BoE) held rates unchanged in June, but there were three dissenters. The economic data could support an August rate hike by the central bank, but the question now is will MPC vote for higher rates holding to its mandate, but with a high possibility that Brexit negotiations once again threaten the growth of the UK economy and the reverse action is needed. The market still believes in an August rate hike, but the GBP will continue under pressure from political uncertainty at home and abroad.

Market events to watch this week:

Tuesday, July 24
9:30pm AUD CPI q/q
Wednesday, July 25
10:30am USD Crude Oil Inventories
Thursday, July 26
7:45am EUR Main Refinancing Rate
8:30am EUR ECB Press Conference
8:30am USD Core Durable Goods Orders m/m
Friday, July 27
8:30am USD Advance GDP q/q

*All times EDT
For a complete list of scheduled events in the forex market visit the MarketPulse Economic Calendar

‘Footy’ dented U.K retail sales and pounds sterling

Thursday July 19: Five things the markets are talking about

Yesterday, the dollar retreated from a three-week high as the market cashed in on gains the currency made after two days of testimony by U.S Fed Chair Powell reinforced a strong economic outlook.

In congressional testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday Powell said he believed the U.S was on course for years more of “steady growth,” and played down the risks to the U.S economy of an escalating trade conflict. He also noted that the U.S economy “may not yet have reached full employment,” while also noting that risks to domestic inflation forecasts were “roughly balanced.”

Ten-year U.S Treasury yields touched a three-week high after his comments, while this morning, the dollar is extending this week’s gains, further weighing on EM assets, while China’s yuan deepens its losses.

Elsewhere, stocks are edging higher in Europe after a mixed Asia session, while oil retraces some of yesterday’s gain as the market assesses global conflicting supply-and-demand signals. Gold prices are again under pressure for a fifth straight session.

On tap: Initial U.S. jobless claims for the week ended July 14, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey and the Conference Board’s U.S. Leading Index (08:30 am EDT).

1. Stocks mixed sessions

In Japan, the Nikkei snapped a four-day winning streak overnight as investors booked profits. The weakness in tourism related equities offset gains in oil names and machinery makers. The Nikkei closed trade -0.1% lower, in line with the broader Topix.

Down-under, Aussie stocks edged higher overnight, helped by buying in financials and material firms. The S&P/ASX 200 index closed +0.3% higher, after having climbed +0.7% yesterday. In S. Korea, the Kospi index and the won both weakened overnight over lingering concerns raised by trade tensions. The index was down -0.34%.

In Hong Kong and China, equities fell on a weaker yuan. The currency (¥6.7066) has dropped to a 12-month low outright after news that Beijing plans to step up monetary easing measures. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell -0.2%, while the China Enterprises Index lost -0.1%. In Shanghai, the blue-chip CSI300 index fell -0.1%, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost -0.5%.

In Europe, regional bourses trade mostly lower across the board led by the French CAC and German DAX. The FTSE is outperforming on the continued weakness in the pound (£1.3004).

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

Indices: Stoxx600 -0.1% at 386.5, FTSE +0.2% at 7689, DAX -0.4% at 12716, CAC-40 -0.4% at 5425, IBEX-35 -0.1% at 9743, FTSE MIB -0.2% at 21,929, SMI +0.2% at 8951, S&P 500 Futures -0.2%

2. Oil prices fall on record output and stock build, gold lower

Oil prices remain under pressure after official U.S data yesterday showed an unexpected rise in crude stockpiles – U.S output hit a record high and major oil exporters increased production.

International crude oil benchmark Brent is down -40c at -$72.50 a barrel, while U.S light crude is -20c lower at +$68.56.

Brent has fallen almost -9% from last week’s high above +$79 on emerging evidence of higher production from Saudi Arabia and other members of the OPEC as well as Russia and the U.S.

Note: The EIA indicated yesterday that U.S crude production had reached +11M bpd for the first time – the U.S has added nearly +1M bpd in production since November, thanks to rapid increases in shale drilling.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold has extended its fall to a one-year low overnight as the ‘big’ dollar firmed after the Fed asserted the need for further interest rate hikes amid a strong economy. Spot gold is down -0.2% at +$1,223.56 an ounce. The yellow metal slipped to its lowest since July 2017 at +$1,220.41 an ounce earlier in the session. U.S gold futures for August delivery are -0.4% lower at +$1,223.20 an ounce.

3. U.S bill yields back up

This week has seen U.S three-month T-bill yields back up above the +2% mark for the first time since June 2008, just before the global financial crisis erupted in earnest.

Higher yields reflect anticipated further Fed hikes. Currently, there is a +90% probability of another +25 bps increase, to +2%-2.25%, at the Sept. 25-26 meeting of the FOMC. A further hike, to +2.25%-2.50%, has about a +65% chance.

Elsewhere, the yield on 10-year Treasuries has increased +2 bps to +2.89%, the highest in almost four weeks. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has advanced +1 bps to +0.35%. In the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield has climbed +2 bps to +1.226%, the largest increase in more than a week.

4. Chinese yuan hits a 12-month low

Overnight, the Chinese yuan (¥6.7066) has managed to print new lows not seen since last July, and the gap between onshore and offshore rates continues to widen, suggesting greater pessimism in the market.

To date, the yuan has been hurt by a worsening trade conflict between the U.S. and China, and on expectations that the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) will ease monetary policy further, while the Fed is likely to keep raising borrowing costs.

Elsewhere, sterling has dropped below the psychological £1.30 outright after U.K retail sales data disappointed (see below) and EUR/GBP has rallied to a four-month high of €0.8941.

The Bank of England (BoE) is expected to raise interest rates on Aug. 2, but weaker economic data may make it harder for them to do so.

Note: There is a +£2B option with a strike price of £1.3000 expiring later today.

5. ‘Footy’ dented retail U.K sales

Data this morning from the ONS showed that U.K. retail sales declined in June, as Britons chose to watch the soccer World Cup rather than shop.

Sales in June declined -0.5% compared with May, dragged lower by fall in sales of clothing and footwear – retailers are blaming the tournament. However, food stores had a better month, with sales rising +0.1% compared with May, reflecting purchases of barbecue goods during a heat wave.

Despite the decline, sales over the three-months through June grew +2.1%, the strongest three-month period in three-years. The data suggest the economy accelerated in Q2 after a slow start to the year.

Note: The BoE is expected to lift its benchmark interest rate as soon as next month to bring annual inflation back to its +2% goal.

Forex heatmap

Fed Powell advances the dollar

Wednesday July 18: Five things the markets are talking about

U.S assets get another leg up from rookie Fed Chair Jerome Powell who again expressed optimism over the U.S’s economic growth and stable inflation, telling Congress yesterday that domestic data should keep the central bank on track to raise “gradually” short-term interest rates. However, as per usual, there was a disclaimer – it was too soon to say if trade disputes might interfere with his plans.

To date, the Fed has refrained from commenting on trade policy, saying it is outside of their remit, yet Powell did caution that “open economies have fared better than closed ones.”

Elsewhere, commodity prices continue their decent, dragged down mostly by crude prices, which are off another -1% on a surprise U.S. crude stockpile report, while the ‘big’ dollar is outperforming its G10 currency pairs, with many EM currency pairs trading atop their multi-year lows outright.

In fixed income, Treasury yields have backed up along with most European bonds. Global equities have had a mixed overnight session.

On tap: Fed Chair Powell will testify for a second day on the hill today (10:00 am EDT).

1. Stocks mixed results

In Japan, the Nikkei share average advanced to a one-month high overnight as exporters – in particular, the auto sector – found support after the dollar hit a six-month high against the yen (¥113.04). The Nikkei gained +0.4%, as too did the broader Topix.

Down-under, Aussie stocks rallied after four consecutive session losses in the past six sessions, supported by one of the country’s biggest companies by market cap. The S&P/ASX 200 rallied +0.7% as BHP Billiton jumped +3.3% following an upbeat production update. In S. Korea, stocks slid to session lows in some heavy trading. After jumping as much as +0.9% on the open, the Kospi finished down -0.3%, recording its third-straight drop.

In Hong Kong and China, stocks came under renewed pressure from a weaker yuan, which has reduced appetite. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell -0.2%, while the China Enterprises Index lost -0.1%, while in China, the blue-chip CSI300 index fell -0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost -0.4%.

Note: Overnight, China’s yuan hit a two-week low outright, breaching the key ¥6.700 level – a rising dollar raises concerns of further capital outflows.

In Europe, regional bourses have opened slightly lower and are trading sideways. The financial sector remains the best performer in muted volatility, while tech stocks are underperforming.

U.S stocks are set to open ‘flat.’

Indices: Stoxx50 -0.2% at 3,446, FTSE +0.1% at 7,608, DAX flat at 12,562, CAC-40 flat at 5,412; IBEX-35 flat at 9,714, FTSE MIB +0.4% at 21,906, SMI -0.4% at 8,812, S&P 500 Futures flat.

2. Oil prices fall on rise in U.S stocks, gold lower

Oil prices again have come under renewed pressure after yesterday’s data reveal a rise in U.S crude inventories last week, defying markets expectations for a “big drop,” while concerns about weak demand again have resurfaced.

Brent crude oil is down -60c at +$71.56 a barrel – the benchmark hit a three-month low yesterday – while U.S light crude is down -50c at +$67.58, not far off Tuesday’s one-month low of $+67.03 per barrel.

Expect today’s price action to largely depend on what the EIA release comes in at. Yesterday’s API data showed an unexpected rise of more than +600K barrels in national crude inventories. For today, the market is forecasting a decline of -3.6M barrels in U.S crude stocks for the week through July 13 (10:30 am EDT).

Also putting pressure on energy prices for the past month is Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members agreeing to increased production, while investors have also begun to worry about the impact on global economic growth and energy demand of the escalating Sino-US trade dispute.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have slipped to a new 12-month low as the ‘big’ dollar firms after Fed Chairman Powell’s U.S economic outlook reinforced the markets views that the central bank is on track to “steadily” hike interest rates. Spot gold is down -0.2% at +$1,224.16 an ounce. U.S gold futures for August delivery are -0.2% lower at +$1,224.30 an ounce.

3. Sovereign yields on the move

In Europe, investor uncertainty over global growth is compressing German 10-year yields, and the hunt for yield then sees demand spill over to other debt further out the curve. The gap between German 10- and 30-year Bund yields are at its narrowest in over five-weeks at +67 bps.

In the U.S, the Fed Chair Powell indicating an “unsurprising” preference for a continued steady rise in interest rates is inevitably flattening the U.S government yield curve. The spread between the two-year and 10-year Treasury bonds is narrowing and is last at +24.7 bps.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries has climbed +1 bps to +2.87%, the highest in more than two weeks. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has gained less than +1 bps to +0.35%, while in the U.K; the 10-year Gilt yield has rallied less than +1 bps to +1.258%.

4. Dollar goes from strength to strength

The mighty U.S dollar is holding onto its recent gains in the aftermath of Fed chair Powell’s testimony yesterday. With the Fed chair reiterating that interest rates would continue to increase gradually again supports interest rate differentials trading strategies.

Note: Euro and U.K inflation data this morning remained underwhelming (see below).

EUR/USD is a tad softer by approx. -0.3% at €1.1622, while weaker-than-expected U.K inflation data for June sent sterling to multi-month lows against the dollar and the euro.

GBP/USD has fallen to a 10-month low of £1.3010 and EUR/GBP has rallied to a four-month high of €0.8923. Also, Brexit concerns continued to weigh upon the pound as PM May’s government again survived a recent Brexit amendment vote by a “slim” margin.

Note: U.K’s June CPI was the key focus with prospects of an August rate hike in the balance. Odds for a hike have diminished a tad, now down to +72%.

5. U.K inflation steady in June

Data this morning showed that annual inflation in the U.K. held steady last month, as summer-clothing sales offset a rise in petrol prices.

As reported from the ONS, consumer prices rose +2.4% on the year and keeps annual price-growth in excess of the Bank of England’s (BoE) +2% target.

Today’s data should keep the BoE in line to hike again next month – only politics and trade disputes could derail Governor Carney’s agenda.

Digging deeper, the data shows that prices charged by companies at the factory gate accelerated in June, gaining +3.1% on year compared with an annual rise of +3% a month earlier, in a sign that inflationary pressures are building. Raw material costs jumped +10.2% on year according to the ONS.

Note: U.K policy makers have said they expect to raise borrowing costs three or more times during the next few years to bring inflation back to their goal.

Forex heatmap

Dog Days of Summer ? (OANDA Trading Podcast Money FM 89.3)

Stephen Innes Head of Trading at OANDA APAC tells Michael Switow what oil, the RMB, gold and Netflix have in common. And the rest of the market movers

 

Money FM 89.3

 

 

Monday blues or Dog days of summer

Monday blues or Dog days of summer

Whether a case of the Monday blues, the Dog Days of summer setting in or a combination of both, markets struggled for direction despite upbeat US economic data while quarterly earnings have failed to inspire investors. And we might chalk it up to a typical summer afternoon NY trading session.

Event-wise, apart from the Tump/Putin headline which managed to supplant China-US trade headlines, there has been very little news worth to report as the markets hardly budged on the positive US retail sales print and remained in stasis during the Empire survey. And  Sterling barely blinked after UK PM May scraped through a Customs Union amendment by 305 votes to 302. However, with May yet again snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, it should provide a reasonable underpin for the Pound over the near term although this morning activity has been remarkably muted

US markets
Wall Street opened with a misfire. Investor expectations were running at peak optimism, and while banks stocks looked favourable, sentiment turned sour, as oil price worries intensified.

Then the thud that was heard up and down wall street as Netflix fell off a cliff in late trading after posting dispiriting subscriber growth last quarter. Indeed, with one of the markets key highfliers going into the tank, it could be a tough 24 hours for FANG stocks. FANGS ‘s have been the undisputed heavyweight champions of the equity world, and pretty much impervious to risk off and trade wars. But when you start looking under the hood and strip away a couple of FANG outperformers, US equity markets aren’t all that cheery. This negative Netflix result could spur more moves into to cash as investors may finally adopt a delayed sell in May and go away strategy.

Oil markets

Oil markets

Oil markets are slip sliding away under renewed selling pressure from long liquidation as bearish sentiment grows thick k with the US  actively considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the chatter of increased Russian oil production after Putin extends the US an olive branch to add more barrels, while the US considers waivers on Iranian sanctions. The sweeping slew of bearish signals has wholly eroded market sentiment with Brent Crude breaking bad now trading below May 2018  lows.

Also, with the market ignoring bullish indicators, specifically the latest production outage in Libya, where the 290,000 bpd Sharara oil field is reducing output due to an act of terrorism.  It calls attention to just how big of a shift market sentiment has undergone since last Wednesday’s high-volume meltdown.

Gold markets

Bearish sentiment continues to engulf the precious metal space after a break of the fundamental $ 1,240 support level overnight while breaching multi-year trendlines. Markets are becoming more e convinced about a strengthening dollar, which will unquestionably act as a most significant headwind and could continue to pressure gold lower as safe-haven demand remains muted.

In fact, the dollar slipped lower in modest price action, yet gold still fell below critical support. Ignoring even the slightest bullish indicator is an unfortunate sign and suggests we could push significantly lower when the USD moves out of its current melancholic state and starts to reassert its presence.

Currency Markets

The USD eased lower for the third consecutive day as trade war headline decreased and some of last week’s froth give way to position neutrality. But we’ve been in this back and forth momentum on the USD since the beginning of June. Whenever the USD picks up steam, everyone boards the rally bus only to get whipped sawed by a brutal correction. But as we move into the dog days of summer, expect volumes to taper but volatility to remain elevated given considerable headline risk. But overall. caution prevails

When markets turn directionless, it’s time to revert into the interest rate matrix for clarity which suggests the USD has more gas in the tank than say the EUR, JPY or the AUD.

GBP: In general, I think everyone likes GBP higher. Therefore, the crowded trade phenomena make correction even more brutal. Again, back to basics. Assuming Brexit risk remains contained (big headline risk assumption) and with the surprisingly hawkish shift from Cunliffe, the BOE’s standing dove, a rate hike in August is all but inevitable GBP should remain in favour.

JPY: Equity momentum has waned this week but increasing JPY outflows to suggest we may only be in the early stages of this move higher in USDJPY. With US yields ticking higher, the fundamental differential argument remains intact.

AUD: Shorts should continue to lead the way, China remains a significant risk despite some favourable commodity forecast based on positive what if scenarios. i.e. what if Trade war abates

MYR: There was a regional sigh of relief after China GDP matched market expectations. While of course taking the data print at face value, the markets are reading this as more or fewer things are not as bad as they could have been. But there is little to get excited about a slowing economy in my views.

With no  “risk on catalysts”, the MYR will take cues from the RMB complex as the local markets will wait for Wednesday  Malaysia CPI data. The data will be of interest given the BNM neutral stance from last week. But the market does think the zero GST effects will likely see inflation drop to the 1.7 %level which will not change markets view that BNM stays on hold for some time. Suggesting the MYR will get little support from interest rate differentials for the foreseeable future.

Also, the bearish sentiment in the oil markets continues to permeate every nook and cranny which should skew negative for MYR sentiment today.

Markets underpricing China risk( OANDA Trading Podcast BFM Kuala Lumpur 89.9)

Stephen Innes, Head of Trading in Asia-Pacific, OANDA, Singapore
Stephen reckons markets are “seriously underpricing economic risk in China”.

Economists suspect the direct impact from the two sets of US tariffs aimed at Beijing could drag China’s GDP down by 0.3 percentage points in the longer run.

Stephen also shares some insights on how China can contain the adverse impact from its ongoing trade war with the US.

We also discuss the market expectation on China’s 2Q GDP that is scheduled to be out today.

BFM Radio Kuala Lumpur 89.9

Trade ,earnings ,teapots and the US dollar

Trade, earnings, teapots and the US dollar

Strong domestic growth and on-target core inflation continue to suggest the US economy is in that happy place,  but this week’s US economic data will begin to shape market expectations for Q2.

And equally significant will be Fed Chair Powell’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking (Tuesday) and House Financial Services (Wednesday) Committees. We should expect Powell testimony to reflect the minutes of the June 13 meeting broadly. But members did note the increased risk to their base economic outlook from trade wars, but since then, President Trump has tabled a review of tariffs on $200billion of additional goods from China. But of course, this escalation was widely telegraphed by the Trump administration, which suggests the FOMC trade concerns were based on the 200 billion in trade war escalation anyway.

However, the new tariffs would not be put in place before the end of August and could be even further kicked down the road as the US and China seek to a secure a lasting bilateral trade based on freer and fairer policy.

But, should the US eventually move ahead with these tariffs, China could not escalate on an even basis given China only imports roughly 130 billion annually from the US suggesting they would either need to levy higher trade tariffs on a small number of selected products or take the least attractive measure of tactically weakening the Yuan. Hence the lack of immediate response from China, as administrators will be ultra-careful not to send the wrong signal triggering another market melt in China.

One does get the sense that investors believe this latest threat from Trump will bring back both parties to the negotiating table and yield some form of compromise.

Economic Union ( EU) chiefs Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk will take their anti-Trump trade roadshow to China and Japan hoping to preserve some semblance of free trade world order. And as opposed to Trumps fire and fury style of negotiation, there’s excepted to be fewer fireworks although the EU leader will press China for free access to China markets while discussing Chinas propensity to dump cheap steel on EU markets.

But absent continued headline risk from trade war this week, desk noise should be a few decibels lower, but it will be far from a walk in the park, with the Trump-Putin still tentatively set for Monday despite Friday “coincidental” set of indictments of 12 Russian military intelligence in Mueller gate. While this isn’t great news for the US-Russian relations unless the citations reveal an actual smoking gun,  don’t expect too much to be focused on this despite the abundance of partisan political posturing.

US markets

What trade war? It is clear as a bell the US economy is on fire. Soaring business confidence and corporate tax cuts are fuelling surging company profits, but more significantly for the prolonged effect, Americans are returning to the works force end masse.

So, despite all the trade war bluster, US markets continue to grind higher, even with numerous trade headwinds. Indeed, the only thing unlucky about Friday the 13th was for equity market bears.

But earnings season is always a bit of a wildcard, and with investors hoping for a  contiued buying binges. They could be a bit disappointed given that sentiment continues to run at peak optimism, even more so, if markets start dialling in more trade war pessimism to the calculus.

Indeed, this week’s key US economic data will be so crucial in shaping investor expectations for Q2, especially around the retail sales data.

Among the companies due to report are Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Morgan Stanley and Microsoft.

Oil markets

The oil market consolidated into the weekend as traders were still rehashing the myriad of developments which saw prices head sharply lower last week. The reported increase in Libyan crude oil production was perhaps the most significant fundamental eye-opener of the week, but then Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak chimed in about a possible supply increase and then stated Russia might swap goods for Iranian oil, a move that would severely dent the impact of US sanctions.

Also, the decline in China’s crude oil imports for June raised a few eyebrows on Friday and did weigh negatively on the demand side of the equation. But given that  China crude import numbers are highly volatile, the markets tend to sidestep a one-off print. But looking under the hood, Chinas crude imports fell -12.04% month on month to 34.35 m tons last month, its lowest level since December. Reduced imports were likely due to China ordering at least five independent refineries (teapots) in Shandong to cut run rates ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit to be held the port city of Qingdao on June 9-10. So, it possible the teapots will gear up again on additional quotas.

Despite last week’s plethora of bearish signals Oil prices rallied towards $71.50 during Friday’s  New York session, but the rally was cut short by media headlines suggesting ” “The Trump administration is actively considering tapping into the nation’s emergency supply of crude oil as political pressure grows to rein in rising gasoline prices before the mid-term congressional elections”

While trade war rhetoric should subside this week and could be a possible plus for oil prices, with the Trump administration actively considering tapping into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it could weight negatively on trader’s cerebral side of the oil price equation.

Gold Markets

The precious space continues to hold critical support at $1,240, but the gold complex remains under pressure. US equity markets continue to trade well triggering few if any defensive allocations into Gold as ETF flows have remained muted lately. With sluggish demand for precious metals and the USD on solid footing, gold prices will stay pressured lower for the foreseeable future as gold has wholly lost its glittering appeal in this enduringly bullish equity and USD environment.

Currency Markets

JPY
Massive move in USDJPY last week which caught everyone flat-footed given the volumes turned and the breadth of the movement. The break above the yearly highs does suggest this move has more ways to run although during Friday trade flows were much more balanced perhaps reflecting the softer Michigan Sentiment index and the negative US political fallout for Mueller gate escalations. USDJPY is signalling the most significant break out in years, and the long USDJPY is a position severely under-owned which suggests the pair will explode higher on any positive news. One can only imagine spot will trade if an intense wave of risk on kicks in or trade war fizzles out.
Only a week ago we were lamenting on how UDJPY was the low beta range trade so what the heck changed. For one, equity markets are surging, 2 year US yields are moving higher, but that only paints a corner of the picture.

1) There is the fair value argument that USDJPY is undervalued supported by interest rate differentials

2) Trade war fears are good for the US dollar because it could shrink the trade deficit when they become competitive enough. Primarily, if the Trump administration puts the automobile tariff in practice, it will exert a fatal blow to Japan’s economy and an already weakening trade balance, which will act as a JPY negative eventually.

3) Japanese institutional investors are increasingly looking outward for investment particularly in the US. And as well are not hedging full returns. The how the notion of Japanese investors repatriating when global risk rises are diminishing.

4) The old FOMO as traders move from what’s not to what’s hot. But arguably this position is under-owned with many structural risks off long JPY still in play, so a push into the 113 could trigger a significant extension of the current rally as more risk off hedged unwind, and more traders become believers.

MYR and the knock-on effects of the Yuan

The perfect storm of negatives saw the USDMYR predictably take out the 4.05 level on Friday trade. Despite the KLCI trading in the green while tracking local burses higher as risk sentiment recovered on Friday, the local currency unit didn’t fare so well. Despite the obvious political overhang from IMDB investigations and political and fiscal uncertainty weighing negatively for the Ringgit. The USD started to reassert itself, and when coupled with increasingly bearish signals from the oil patch, the market was prone to a selloff. But even worse when the $Asia shows sings of recovering, the Ringgit continues to lag the moves.

In addition, the RMB complex continues to set the pace of play in regional currency markets and besides the daily risk YO-YO on equity markets taking its toll on regional sentiment, with the Pboc weighing possible policy options around mainlands economic slowdown, this uncertainty is having a negative knock-on effect in local currency markets.  Uncertainty around policy, trade and retaliation will keep the riks reward needle skewed negatively for the Yuan near-term.

What sparked the dollar rally ? ( OANDA Trading Podcast on Money FM 89.3)

Stephen Innes Head of Trading Asia tells Michael Switow why the yen is weak, and stocks are rallying.

Money FM Singapore 89.3

 

 

A tenuous and unstable state of affairs

A tenuous and unstable state of affairs

The prospects of another round of US tariffs directed at China have resurrected fears that the trade skirmish between Washington and Beijing could escalate with some investors now fearing a full-blown global trade war could be a reality. But the most damning signal is that dialogue between the two superpowers is pretty much non-existent, and with a diplomatic solution appearing more unlikely as the days go by, markets will remain on the defensive.

But with about seven weeks before the new tariffs kick in, if there is a will there could be a way. However, with no senior-level discussion scheduled on the near-term horizon, markets will likely remain in a very tenuous and unstable state of affairs until officials get back at the negotiating tables.

As for woeful Wednesday, Trade war headlines continued to exact a full court press on stocks, oil and EM FX. But the day also provided an unexpected turn of events on USDJPY which bucked conventional risk off wisdom and surged higher as US Treasury yields moved north, but with USDCNH adjusting convincingly higher, the USDJPY now appears trending in sympathy with the broader $/ASIA basket. Indeed, Japanese investors are not in the repatriating haven mood but may be increasingly looking toward the US markets as their essential investment vehicle which could support USDJPY even in a risk-off environment.

Oil markets
An extremely active session in commodities overnight with Crude prices spilling lower across the board as USD200bn of additional tariffs on Chinese goods took its toll.  While Oil prices are following the risk-off move but adding more fuel to the fire was Presidents Trump’s comments on Germany’s energy policy which he is suggesting is being ” held captive by Russia”. Also weighing on prices was the lifting of the force majeure at Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Hariga and Zueitina suggesting that Libyan exports from its eastern ports will quickly resume to previous levels and this report has exerted pressure on bullish sentiment overnight. But the .6% rally in the USD is also weighing on commodity sectors

West Texas Intermediate crude oil moved lower in sympathy with a weaker Brent market on  even after the DOE reported a much larger-than-expected draw , but with imports falling by 1.6 million barrels per day but the decline in imports could be writing off due to July 4th holiday hangover and the deluge in the Texas coast due to heavy rains. But still not a particularly bullish signal.

Metals Markets
The metals complex is getting hammered with copper plummeting to one-year lows. Of course, trade tensions are harmful to the base metal complex, but the fear that an escalating trade war will severely dent global growth assumptions is inflating the sell-off. Predictably the Aussie dollar is taking it on the chin given it precarious position in the base metal supply chain into China.

Gold Markets

In the Gold sector, there has been nary a haven bid to be found as the surging USD has driven gold lower and within an eyeshot of the critical 1240 level. But with a broader equity sell-off failing to materialise in US markets, there has been a real scarcity of defensive allocations into Gold overnight.

Currency Markets
What’s hot what’s not? Well, I’m glad I reminded myself that trade wars are good for the USD while holding an unwavering conviction that USDCNH has no place to run but higher on any escalation.

CNH: Yes, this 200 billion is a significant escalation in the trade war between China and the US, and yes, the RMB complex should remain to be the epicentre of currency trade where the visible big-picture developments should see a bullish skew for the USD. And while it’s entirely possible the Feds may enter the equation at some point denting the $’s appeal, we’re nowhere near meltdown level just yet, suggesting there is more juice to be squeezed on the long USD RMB complex.

JPY: it will be tough for traders to change gears from depending on the risk aversion signals to the reality of shifting Japanese inventor behaviour which may be looking outbound for yield. It might be time to start viewing USDJPY strategy through a different lens.

MYR: The BNM held a very even tone at yesterday’s MPC favouring policy continuity. A very sharp move by a Central Bank veteran knowing full well that keeping policy measures at hand for possible darker days ahead makes perfect sense especially with no real reason to signal a dovish shift at this stage.

But more aggressive trade war fears are coming home to haunt as the fear that an escalating trade war will severely dent global growth assumptions and trigger a commodity market rout. Oil markets are not immune to this calculus, and the sudden drop in oil prices overnight is weighing on the MYR sentiment.

But equally concerning, is the lunge higher in USDCNH which should continue to exert pressure across regional currencies.

I’m always looking for a silver lining in the Ringgit cloud, but everything is looking ever so tarnished today suggesting we could press higher as regional sentiment wanes.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

U.S. stocks are trading off their intraday highs late in the NY session weighed down by financials profit-taking ahead of the deluge of bank earnings reports on Friday, robust US economic data had temporarily overshadowed fears over global trade disputes. That was until a late NY session headline suggesting the US is reportedly preparing the release of a new $200B China tariff list according to two people familiar with the matter. But a list is a list and not an actual tariff, so lots to be ironed on this one. But regardless, it will put the  markets back on the defensive for the time being

Until that point, the market was indeed embracing the raft of outstanding US economic data, and despite the apparent downside risks from an escalating trade war the fact investors continue to plough cash into equities, that was a central dictating market theme. And given the likelihood of a strong earnings season, and at one point investors were heard yelling down Wall Street “what trade war”?? Indeed, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That was until the latest headline when much of the tough slogging was quickly unwound in minutes as the SPX shed 100 points in the flash of an eye reminding investors we are in tricky markets, and nothing can be taken for granted.

The currency markets, however, are a different kettle of fish where the market risk is relatively light with Forex traders doing little more than rotating from what currency pair is hot from what is not. In other words, chasing the fear of missing out seems to be a common theme among G-10 trades after a considerable volume of USD long positions have been culled over the past few weeks, especially against the EUR and AUD. There is a reason why risk is so low in currency land; it’s the real fear of getting sideswiped by trade war headline risk.

Oil Markets

Oil prices continue to gain on yet more production outages with Brent briefly breaching the $ 80 per barrel high water mark as strikes by workers in Norway and Gabon added to global production outages.

Without question, supply risk continues to dominate trader psyche and after the API reported another massive draw traders are now positioning for another sizeable drop in today’s EIA weekly report.

ON the bigger picture, the markets continue to access the intermediate-term supply impact as the Nov. 4 US-imposed deadline for allies to halt Iranian imports moves nearer. All the while the Libyan disruptions continue to run on.

At the end of the day, supply concerns and more disruptions  continue to skew bullish for oil prices

Gold Markets

After a brief peak above 1265 Gold prices resumed its downward path as global stock markets trade well. However Gold prices pulled came off session lows on NATO concerns as the EU countries are worried about possible side agreement between Putin and Trump which could profoundly weaken the alliance. Also, the latest tariff headlines suggesting the US is reportedly preparing the release of a new $200B China tariff list according to two people familiar with the matter should keep a bid under the market. Gold dips remain attractive especially for investors knowing that gold should be an essential part of any diversified portfolio, especially in these highly charged political times.

Currency Markets

With this morning’s tariff headline risk, I need to remind myself that the trade war is good for the dollar, as the US has the upper hand in negotiations and whichever way this issue gets resolved it’s likely to be positive for the US current account.

GBP: Cable remains the land of the brave requiring a sharp eye and quick trigger given the plethora of Brexit headline risk. But indeed, in this muddied UK political landscape it does suggest the endgame will be the UK  never leaves the EU, and in this scenario, the Pound is ” cheap as chips”. When the UK political malaise subsides, Sterling  will be the shining star of the market

JPY: The USD did look poised to break out topside given the fading of trade rhetoric and a real risk-on environment developing. US equities have held up remarkably well as the bull market keeps marching her despite the reams of negative news thrown at the benchmarks. Long USDJPY is entirely under-owned as risk-off trades are still prevalent vs the JPY, and on a break of 111.50-75 levels, dealers will be forced into a risk on trade. But as usual, nothing ever works out as planned so we may have to re-explore this scenario later once we iron our fact from fiction over the latest US trade escalation headline.

MYR: It was an up and down day for the Ringgit which was in high demand and dare I say outperformed early on Bond related inflows as investors position for dovish pause for the BNM. The MGS curve was in firm demand particularly the attractive long end yields which are usually the domain for real money investors and pension funds. Indeed, last weeks Bond market awakening was the real deal!!

As for the BNM policy decision, we anticipate no actual shift in rates, Nor Shamsiah is a BNM veteran, and it would suggest policy continuity, but the markets will be more focused on forwarding guidance. Given the political and fiscal struggles ahead, I think it’s easy to assume this will not be a hawkish pause.

Oil prices continue to flourish and should push higher given the bullish supply skews which should go a long way in supporting the government coffers.