US Inflation Eyed as Markets Pare Losses

Markets higher after tariff-related losses

It’s been a more positive start to trade on Thursday, with equity markets in the green and paring Wednesday’s losses as investors continue to weigh up what impact the latest trade tariffs will have on the global economy.

While markets have typically reacted negatively to any escalation on trade, the overall impact has been relatively modest under the circumstances which suggests investors are far from panic mode right now. Many agree that tariffs will ultimately be bad for the global economy and therefore markets but there still seems to be some hope that common sense will prevail and a full blown trade war will be averted.

With Donald Trump now pursuing another $200 billion in tariffs against China though, we may have to wait a while as he is not easing up and China – and others – is determined to prove it will not be bullied into submission. Perhaps if the economy starts to suffer or the Republicans do badly in the midterms in November Trump will be forced to consider an alternative approach.

Equities shrug off trade tariff tensions

US inflation seen rising further

As it stands though, the economy is doing very well – aided by last year’s tax reforms – and the Federal Reserve is on course to raise interest rates twice more this year, having increased them on two occasions already. The central bank is clearly more concerned about the economy overheating right now than the prospect of a trade war – although this is also on their radar – and the inflation data we’ve seen very much justifies their view.

While CPI is not the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, it does provide valuable insight and is typically released a couple of weeks before the core PCE price index. Today’s release is expected to show prices rising by 2.9% in June compared to a year earlier, with core inflation having risen by 2.3%, above the Fed’s 2% target. The core PCE price index may be a little behind this at 2% but this is at target and on the rise. Any unexpected increase today may suggest a similar rise is on the cards for the PCE numbers as well.

(Update 1) A tenuous and unstable state of affairs

ECB minutes eyed after dovish tightening last month

The minutes from the most recent European Central Bank meeting will also be released today. The ECB confirmed at the last meeting that it will end its quantitative easing program at the end of the year and won’t raise interest rates until at least the middle of 2019, which was largely in line with expectations. The dovish spin that was put on it though weighed on the euro at the time and it will be interesting to see whether the minutes have a similar impact.

Economic Calendar

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

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.

All is quiet on the western trade war front

All is quiet on the western trade war front

For a change,  all is quiet on the western trade war front as the drop in aggressive US tariff posturing and the nonfarm payroll after effects have propelled US equity market to the third consecutive day of substantial gains. While traders sit tight awaiting the next US trade salvo, but for the time being robust US economic data is offsetting concerns about rising trade tensions. In addition to the strong payrolls report, Federal Reserve Board data showed that consumer borrowing picked up in May with total consumer credit increasing $24.6 billion to a seasonally adjusted $3.9 trillion, up 7.6%. Indeed, this incredibly strong pace of credit growth points to a resilient US consumer while continuing to highlight an extremely robust US economy despite growing trade concerns.

But markets remain deceptively tricky and could be even more so as we enter the US dog days of summer.

In Asia markets, all eyes were on Xiaomi Corp IPO but the coming out party was less than a hit and didn’t exactly attract the feeding frenzy expected from high tech investors. Indeed, global high-tech investors continue to feel more comfortable investing in global stalwarts like apple as opposed to debutantes like Xiaomi who have more of an Asia centric presence. Of course, escalating trade war concerns weighed on sentiment but being the first of many prominent Chinese tech names coming to market seeking IPO in coming months, investors may have thought Xiaomi valuation a tad “toppish” in current market conditions. And are perhaps looking for more significant fire sales as more of China’s glittering tech giants swamp the IPO markets in the months ahead.

Oil Markets
Indeed, there’s a bullish undertone in the markets with the Iranian supply question expected to support and eventually push prices higher. The Brent market climbed amid ongoing concerns regarding Libyan supplies while treader weighed the bullish medium-term impact of Iran sanctions.

While WTI was under some early pressure after Syncrude Canada announced it would be restarting production from its Fort McMurray oil sands upgrader earlier than expected, but prices remained firm and started to rally after API showed another major draw of 4.50 million barrels.

Looking to Libya, the head of their state energy producer warned that output would keep falling day by day if significant ports remained closed because of clashes last month that lead to a standoff. Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of the Tripoli-based National Oil Corp, stated that “Today, production is 527,000 barrels a day, tomorrow it will be lower, and after tomorrow it will be even lower, and every day it will keep falling.” But keep in mind, current levels are less than half what the country was producing in February pre-political deadlock levels.

Even under the supposition that production from Saudi Arabia and Russia is sufficient to offset declining output from Venezuela, Libya and Iran, keeping the market in an approximate physical equilibrium, the stream of supply disruptions will continue to upset those dynamics.

Gold markets

The weaker dollar had gold bulls charging but the run of stop losses above $ 1261 cleared a path for Gold to touch $ 1265 overnight after political turmoil reared its ugly head in the UK when Boris Johnson resigned. But technically, gold has a long road to travel before breaching the more relevant technical levels around $1300 suggesting it remains ever so prone to the stronger USD. But the robust US economic data, fading of trade war rhetoric and extremely buoyant US equity markets turned golds tide overnight as “risk on ” saw gold prices fall from interday peaks and retreat before eventually finding support at around $1258 levels.

Currency Markets

In the currency market, Political unravelling in the UK has provided the best trading opportunities.

GBP: Another roller coaster ride on GBP overnight as Brexit markets got very uneasy after Boris Johnson resignation and the thought he could force a party coup which all but unwound the positively from Friday Brexit Chequers meeting. Long Sterling is arguably the G-10 most crowded trade so any Brexit hic up will likely trigger an outsized move as weaker near-term stops get triggered. But overall the long Sterling trade remains bruised but not broken.

AUD: The lack of trade drama is underpinning the AUDUSD. But the Aussie was arguably the most subscribed USD dollar long play in G-10, so players were mercilessly squeezed as ongoing China/US trade skirmishes are showing nascent signs of easing.

JPY: US yields and equities were soundlessly trended higher which have propelled USDPY to within striking distance of the 111 level. With investors running very neutral USD dollar exposure vs the JPY, short-term traders are boarding the risk- on wagon and buying USDJPY. If US equities continue to stabilise let alone move higher and US 10-year yields continue dribble north, we could eventually test the key 111.40 support line that has proved to be an impenetrable force for months.

MYR: The relief rally on the toned-down trade rhetoric continues to take hold of ASEAN markets. Risk on sentiment in US equity markets should play out positively for local bourses. Asian currencies are trading stronger aided by a sharp move lower in $RMB, robust equity performance and improved risk sentiment which is in complete contrast to last week’s markets tumult.

However, Malaysia registered another 1.65 billion in June outflow all but wiping all the reported 8 billion in fixed income flow from March 2017-2018 which tells the real tale of the election’s impact.

The next crucial focus will be the MPC on the July 11th This will be the first policy meeting chaired by the new BNM governor and with no real drive for BNM to adjust interest rate policy at this stage, however, given all the political uncertainty their remains a chance the BNM could offer up a dovish pause.

In the meantime, the MYR is benefiting from positive regional risk sentiment and rising oil prices all the while the Chinese RMB continues to unwinds last weeks trade induced tantrum.

CNH: For me its a case of know when to hold them and know when to fold them. While I think the RMB will eventually come under renewed pressure as China risk continues to wobble,  markets have read far too much into the China economic slowdown which will likely be modest at best. Still this week tier one China economic data will continue to supply food for thought.

For the USD , it’s all about this week’s CPI.

For the USD, it’s all about this week’s CPI.

Markets dismissed the opening salvo of the  US -Sino trade war as dated news.

However, after another Goldilocks NFP,  US stock markets traded positively in the green while the US dollar bears begrudgingly came out of hibernation after US  bond market yields knee-jerked lower.

The NFP report showed the US economy continues to add jobs at a robust pace (+213k). There was a 0.2pp rise in the participation rate to 62.9%, with the expansion in the labour force helping lift the unemployment rate to 4.0%. AHE were softer than expected at 0.2% m/m (consensus: 0.3% m/m). An undershoot in hourly earnings with the participation rate moving higher suggests there is still more room in the labour market to go before wage pressure passes through to the data. But none the less,  it does keep the Fed on track and shouldn’t alter too much from that perspective. But the  tepid US wage growth  inflationary data does lend tentative support to the fresh recovery in EM and G10 high-beta currencies versus  the USD

However, for the USD to get back on track and reverse this negative momentum, it’s all about this week’s US CPI print. With the big dollar apparently in retreat, the Greenback will need a shot in the arm with inflationary “pick me up juice” to reverse this nascent sell-off

Trade war
The market will be incredibly focused on Fed chatter this week as downside risks from tariffs were discussed by Fed officials as indicated on the Jun  13 FOMC meeting minutes released last week. Currently, the duties on $34 billion of Chinese goods, remain primarily at the Walmart level as far as escalation runs and will have limited economic impact, However, should the Administration follow through with the threat of a $200 billion + duties on  Chinese goods,  indeed this would have some negative implication for both the US and global growth prospects.

Remember that while Powell recognised the dangers of escalating trade war in his Sintra comments last month, but he was insistent the Fed would need to assess incoming data. Early warning signs usually come from sentiment surveys and if we recall it was China and EU sentiment indexes that had led investors into the tank in those key markets. So, traders will key on this week’s University of Michigan consumer sentiment index to see if there are any signs that consumer sentiment is starting to fray from trade war fears.

Oil Market

Of course, Oil traders are wholly perplexed by President Trumps demands to cut off 2.4 million barrels of Iranian oil while admonishing OPEC to keep prices stable if not have them go down! But it’s the White House’s zero-tolerance policy to Iran which is supporting oil markets given the fragile state of global supplies as spare oil capacity hovers near zero. In this scenario, of  supply reality versus wishful thinking, there is only one direction for the oil price to move, and that is higher over time

Oil benchmarks went in opposite directions Friday afternoon, with WTI running higher and Brent trading lower as fears of the escalating U.S.-Chinese trade war and increased production by Saudi Arabia, and Russia bumped against supply disruptions from Venezuela and Libya as well as the sanctions on Iran.

There has been some interesting discussion over a note issued by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. suggesting the lack of reinvestment in oil production could lead to a price spike.“Investors who had egged on management teams to reign in capex and returned cash will lament the underinvestment in the industry,”, And that falling behind the production curve in favour of paying out shareholder dividends runs the risk of prices spiralling much higher in the future.

Baker Hughes reported an increase of 5 in the number of active oil rigs in the United States matching the June high water mark.

Gold Market

For the better part of June and early July, US dollar strength and the dollar-bullish outlook continued to weigh on gold as stronger than expected US data and a hawkish Fed weighted gold prices down like an anchor.
Buyers of physical in Asia have been few and far between despite the pullback, as local currencies have been taking it on the chin due to the stronger USD. But the Goldilocks NFP print which could deliver a softer US dollar profile this week, suggests opportunistic investors may return which should support gold prices. After all, in this highly political and geopolitically charged environment, gold remains a very suitable component in any diversified portfolio.

China Market

While China response to the US administration trade policy is keeping the headline tickers working overtime, growth remains mainland’s biggest priority hence the markets will be extremely focused on this week’s China tier one economic data dump which will provide some exacting signpost for evaluating Chinas economy. While US-Sino Trade will continue to dominate the headline ticker tape, this week’s critical set of growth data will be a massive test for local markets. Frankly, by all metrics, growth in China remains more than adequate, but a subpar reading and Main Street might eventually take notice and realise all is not well in China.

PBoC
Many confusing signals to deal with but none more so than why the PBoC waited so long on the currency front before verbal intervention which has left just enough uncertainty in the air over what their actual motivation was. With some arguing that policy choices are going to be robust and will have the effect of intentionally causing the currency to weaken.  However, authorities have made clear their intent on domestic monetary settings, and this would suggest that growth and not trade war will be the determining factor in policy decisions

Indeed, there is Big Trouble in Big China as authorities continue to grapple with pulling back stimulus created by a state-run banking machine which operated with wanton disregard for risk management. Add in the prospects of an economic slowdown, escalating trade wars all wrapped in a shrinking population, and it does suggest Main Street is missing the bigger picture. China risk continues to be underpriced from my chair indicating at a minimum; the Yuan will resume trending lower as  the mainland administrators  continue to deleverage  China, keeping in mind in a wobbly China scenario, CNH should move more than CNY (which is fixed)

Asia market 
There have been massive portfolio outflows from Asia that have resulted in markets tumbling to fire sale levels (SHCOMP -20% on the year). The big dollar – which triggered a lot of the recent round of EM troubles – seems to be consolidating but, there is a lot to be still much to be worried about as the US is not easing its aggressive trade posturing. But this extended period of capital outflows in ASEAN markets does suggest this was more than event-driven risk but more of a structural shift. Whether this shift was all about the strength of the US dollar and risk around China, or more likely a combination for both,  this week tier one China data will go along way to confirm this view.

Malaysia market 

The first round of US tariffs has come into effect with little fanfare. But this contained reaction has given a boost to local risk assets led by the SHCOMP trading 2.5 % higher w. USD ASIA along with the broader G-10 complex in general, traded lower into the weekend as the Goldilocks NFP has given a boost to the nascent EM Asia rally and the USDMYR was no exceptions piggybacking regional risk.

But MYR bonds are trading very neutral into weekend due to the NFP influence,  but activity should pick up today ahead of the MPC on on on the 11th which could read neutral to dovish and given support to local bonds. However a  more dovish MPC USDMYR trading defensively next week again, but the currency pairs will be hard pressed to take out the 4.05 level given the significant ( USD) dollar could be on the retreat after Friday tepid US wage growth-inflation .. And with OIL prices poised to move higher, the Ringgit should get some support from the commodity sector.

On the MPC front,  economic growth will slow to 5.5 per cent this year from 5.9 per cent, while inflation will cool to 2.5 per cent from 3.9 per cent, which will give new Governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus cause to pause. But for fear of triggering more outflows and denting the local capital market appeal due to to the resulting weaker Ringgit, the BNM will likely refrain from being overtly dovish. With very little priced into rate hike expectations, the market has done most the BNM repricing with Bloomberg data showing the market implied policy rate for one year’s time has declined to 3.28 per cent from 3.41 per cent in May, so why rock the boat.

Currency Market

NZD: The metals complex has recovered from the worst of the sell-off for now and has seen something of a relief rally in AUD & NZD.But given the antipodean position in the global supply chain, they will be the first pairs to buckle on a further escalation of trade war rhetoric.

EUR: The Euro has seen a decent relief rally from the low 1.15 handle, and after last week when some ECB members advocated a sooner rather than later rate hike and a Goldilocks NFP print we could see some more EUR short covering. But it does feel like we are entering the summer doldrums on currency markets as desks are more apt to cover what orders need to be hedged and little else.

JPY: This remains a painfully dull range trades, and levels are clear with the downside at 109.90 and topside resistance in the 111.20

Too Many Rate Hikes Could Harm Economy

Central bankers need to be careful not to increase interest rates too quickly this year because that could slow the economy too much, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told CNBC on Thursday.Wall Street expects the Fed to raise rates at next month’s meeting, in the first of what’s seen as at least three total hikes in 2018. The Fed increased the cost of borrowing money three times last year to the current range of 1.25 to 1.50 percent.Hiking rates by a total of 1 percent this year, which would signal four increases of the typical 0.25 percent, would be “priced for perfection,” Bullard said.

Source: Fed’s Bullard: Too many hikes this year could slow economy too much – CNBC

Futures Flat After Hawkish Fed Minutes

Dollar maintains its firmer tone

BoE Hearing and Fed Minutes in Focus

US Futures Continue to Pare Last Week’s Gains

US equity markets are expected to open in the red again on Wednesday, tracking losses in Europe as stocks continue to pare last week’s strong rebound.

It’s been a relatively quiet start to the morning and the week, with the bank holiday in the US and Canada contributing to this. The European session has been dominated by economic data releases so far and that’s likely to continue, with flash manufacturing and services data due from the US shortly after the open. It’s the FOMC minutes that will be released later in the day though that will likely be the standout event from a US perspective, particularly as the statement caused quite a stir at the end of January.

US Yield Curve Now (Orange) and on 29 January 2018 (Purple)

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

The sell-off in the markets may have come a couple of days later but part of the initial trigger was a more hawkish sounding Fed, with the jobs report then being the straw that broke the camel’s back two days later. While the minutes may not generate quite the same response, traders will likely monitor what they say very closely for signs that policy makers are now leaning more towards three to four rate hikes this year, rather than two or three.

EUR/USD – Euro Ticks Lower as German Manufacturing PMI Softens

GBP Slips as Unemployment Ticks Higher

Sterling is coming under a bit of pressure this morning after UK jobs data for the three months to December showed wages still growing at a moderate pace and unemployment ticking up to 4.4%. While a higher reading on wage growth may have triggered a more bullish response from the pound, the data turned out to be quite insignificant as it’s unlikely to change the views at the Bank of England.

UK Unemployment Rate

Wages have been slowly ticking higher recently and they could continue to do so as workers demand more due to the higher cost of living and a tight labour market. The move higher in the unemployment rate won’t be a concern at this moment with it potentially being a one-off move and still very low. As long as inflation remains at upper range of what is deemed acceptable, the central bank seems intent on raising rates at least once more this year, despite the temporary factors driving it and economic uncertainty that lies ahead.

Yield-o-Mania

BoE Inflation Report Hearing Eyed as Markets Price in Rate Hikes

Members of the Monetary Policy Committee including Governor Mark Carney will appear before the Treasury Select Committee later on today, during which they will be questioned on their latest inflation report forecasts and expectations for interest rates going forward. While it’s always interesting to get the views of policy makers and the pound will likely be volatile throughout, I wonder how much of what they have to say will now already be priced in, with at least one rate hike now expected this year.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

OANDA fxTrade Advanced Charting Platform

With that in mind and with Brexit transition negotiations likely to dominate the next month, we could see the pound lose some of the momentum that’s been gathering over the last six months or so. It’s recent failed to make new highs on two occasions against the dollar and it’s also slipping against the yen in a possible sign that traders are beginning to lock in profits ahead of what could be a difficult month.

Economic Calendar

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Yield-o-Mania

Yield-o-Mania

Global yields ratcheted higher after a stronger than expected jump on Germany’s PPI which bolsters the hotter than expected comprehensive inflation narrative. But it was the jump in US 2-year note yields that provided the extra boost to the US dollar as shorter-dated tenors provides investors with better goalposts for determining how the market is viewing Fed sentiment

However, the lukewarm demand for two-year notes at auction and with supply concerns expected to weigh heavy on investor bond appetite this week, we could see the dollar back under pressure. Of course, traders are erring on the side of caution ahead of the release of the FOMC Jan 30-31 minutes and given the short dollar bus had reached standing room only portions, the short-term pause in this year’s grand dollar sell-off was not too unexpected.
US stock markets

US equity markets fell overnight on the back of higher US Treasury yields which are providing investors with more income than dividends on the S&P 500 Index. While the prospect of higher interest rates will keep investors on edge, it’s not like we’re returning to double-digit levels or the Fed is moving its terminal rate.So even the uptick in ten-year yields to 3 % or even 3.25 % is unlikely to kill the equity market rally as the benefits from fiscal stimulus should continue to feed through the markets. Investors are banking on much higher returns from equities than bonds again in 2018.

Oil markets

Amid OPEC supply compliance, WTI markets are focusing on dwindling inflow of Crude from Canada to Cushing due to limited accommodation on the Keystone pipeline.The disruption is providing a fillip to WTI prices while the stronger dollar has Brent prices falling and narrowing the WTI-Brent spread. Also, WTI is getting a boost from rising exports attributed to better infrastructure connecting the Permian Basin to the Gulf Coast. But of course, we are tapering expectation on WTI rally as the USD continues to find firmer footing.

Gold markets

A tough week for the Gold market so far as the dollar has rebounded and US Bond yields have jumped higher ahead of the FOMC minutes. Traders are hedging for a possible shift in guidance given the uptick in inflation, so this presents a significant market tail risk which could cause traders to reprice rate hike expectations in 2019 aggressively higher. A quicker and steeper slope of interest rate normalisation offers the most prominent near-term threat to gold prices as this outcome will send the USD surging.
G-10

The Euro

The lack of demand for EUR Monday certainly opened the door, and predictably on the first sign of abject news, we dipped to the low 1.23’s after the German ZEW survey plunged. The market is forever a discounting mechanism and given the extremely disappointing price action from the long perspective; it triggered one-way position squaring ahead of the FOMC minutes. And while the bullish EUR narrative continues to resonate, both bearish and bullish views will be inevitably challenged with Italian elections, January NFP and an ECB meeting due over the next few weeks so near-term convictions could turn neutral and tarnish the EUR appeal

The Japanese Yen

The USDJPY should be the best game in town this week especially if traders interpret the FOMC minute’s  colour as bold. However, the risks are balanced entering the FOMC minutes as the recent uptick in volatility could have as much bearing on Fed policy decision as the subtle rise in inflation

But until the market takes out the significant 108.15 level I continue to view the current move as little more than a pre FOMC meeting squeeze driven by yields and positioning and believe there will be substantial resistance between 107.50-108 levels.
The Australian Dollar

Pre-data comments. Given the RBA has been very vocal on wage growth as the missing piece of the economic puzzle, today’s Wage Price Index will attract an unusual amount of focus. Unfortunately, everyone is looking at this trade so the news reading algorithms will likely get there well ahead of everyone on a surprise uptick.

The Malaysian Ringgit

Riskier currencies are trading on poor footing given the firmer dollar and negative global equity sentiment. And of course, we can not overlook higher US yields which are driving opinions this week. This package of coincidences does not make a very conducive environment for regional risk.

Don’t go barking up the wrong tree in the Year of the Dog

Don’t go barking up the wrong tree in the Year of the Dog

A predictable wave of profit taking and risk reduction, as is standard form ahead of US long weekends, dominated Friday session leading to USD gains as US  yields pulled back. And while the broader  US dollar negativity continues to seep through capital markets, some traders are suggesting of potential shifts in conviction levels while others believe  Friday to be little more than pre-weekend risk reduction. But one thing that’s clear, even the most prolific purveyors of price action are baffled regarding the breakdown of historical correlations across most asset classes.

One telling feature, however, is long-term investors continue to shun the greenback and this should continue to weigh on near-term sentiment. So no don’t  go barking up the wrong tree in this Year of the Dog, stick to the basics and follow the flow.

By way of the ordinary course of developments, the various market holiday observances might challenge liquidity conditions. Golden Week celebrations continue across Asia through Wednesday, while both the US and Canada take holidays Monday. Still, it could be an actionable week with numerous Fed speakers on tap and the FOMC minutes are sure to liven things up. Keep in mind; March rate hike is all but entirely priced-in so the markets will be keying on forwarding guidance.

As the markets pivot to Fed speak and the FOMC minutes this week, “deficit mania” is sounding a few decibels lower this morning.But none the less, ongoing concerns about swelling deficit’s and the Feds sequence of interest rate normalisation should be the markets key focus this week and the primary drivers of near-term volatility.

And while US Bond yields eased on Friday,  traders see icebergs ahead suggesting Friday’s price action was little more than a reprieve amidst a bear market.

Equity Markets

Equity markets continue climbing the wall of worry despite inflationary fears gaining momentum and Bond Yields moving higher.Eventually, something has to give, but so far investors are betting on corporate earning rather than the shifting macro narratives.

Oil markets 

Oil prices finished modestly higher on Friday to chalk up a weekly gain as prices continue to see-saw between the binary descriptions from OPEC’s ongoing efforts to blow out the worldwide glut against the indications of rising U.S. production.Although Fridays price movements were likely  position sensitive amid USD risk reduction and book squaring ahead of tomorrows Oil contract expiration

We should expect the WTI whipsaw to continue as debate rages between US shale and OPEC, but we’re starting to carve out near-term ranges as longer-term oil bulls remain in dip buying mode with shale oil hedger looking to sell upticks.
Gold Markets

Gold prices eased late Friday as the dollar tentatively lifted off the canvas, despite taking a standing eight count earlier in the session when the DXY hit a three year low. A couple of hours USD short covering is unlikely to change the broader USD negativity, but when coupled with inflationary concerns heightening and a probable follow-up correction in equities markets around the corner, golds haven demand should continue to glitter.

On the physical side of demand, China Lunar New Year has seen few gold bars change hands despite physical premiums easing as futures prices continue to grind higher.

G-10 Currency Markets

Japanese Yen

Although the reappointment of Kuroda and the reshuffle of deputy governors is slightly more dovish BoJ, it is hard to reverse USDJPY downside given that continuous USD weakness could further drag USDJPY into the abyss. With the tables turned upside down on ten year US yield to JPY correlation and the US ” deficit mania. ” likely to return, USDJPY is in a precarious position.

Predictably we heard from Japan as Currency Chief Asakawa that he’s readying the necessary action to prevent “one-sided” currency moves, but with the Buck getting pounded against all major currencies, Japans verbal intentions are falling on deaf ears.
The Euro

The pace of the EURUSD rally post-CPI last week surprised everyone but none the less if not for timely comments( seems always to happen when EUR rallies) from ECB Cœuré, we should have closed closer to the 1.2500 rather than 1.2400 handles. His remarks spooked the markets in pre-weekend risk reduction mode after he suggested policymakers are unanimous in sequence when market positioning was suggesting the Hawks were gaining the upper hand. But at some juncture, the market will ignore this verbal balderdash, and in reality, 1.3000 shouldn’t be unimaginable before long predicated on strong fundamentals, the realisation of more hawkish ECB guidance but also the mechanics of the taper could reverse bond outflows.

Asia FX

Malaysian Ringgit 

External drivers and specifically the broader USD moves will dictate the Ringgit momentum this week with the critical focus on USDJPY 106 level.But on the positive side of the equation, one of the primary headwinds that we considered to be a negative for the Ringgit was higher US yields which typically and historically have supported the USD. But the US interest rate to FX correlation broken, and despite USD bond yields pushing much higher t, the USD continues to sell off.

The markets are still feeling the hangover effect from the Chinese Lunar New Year, and risk appetite is waning and with a plethora of Fed speak along with the FOMC minutes likely to cause an uptick in volatility this week, offshore demand could remain muted. None the less, 106 level USDJPY will be a crucial US dollar sentiment gauge, and if the market pushes through again this week, we could see the Ringgit move to 3.87 and below as traders would then set sights on the critical 3.85 level.

Singapore Dollar

The US CPI fallout was somewhat unusual; triggering moves out of the dollar and into riskier currencies, so the SGD benefited as the CNH rallied hard this week.But  CNH could start to underperform. Let me qualify this next comment as no one, and I mean no one knows what the Pboc are going to do. So we can only make hay from innuendo and strategically placed criticisms from regulators in HK  press. But there seems to be a  pickup in debate onshore about the merits of further RMB appreciation which could dent SGD appeal. But in the mean times, we should enjoy the SGD strength ( not because I get paid in SGD, although that is always a welcome bonus). But there is some real value appeal that has emerged in SGD  ahead of this weeks budget, as a rosier outlook in the statement could be the precursor to monetary tightening.But also appealing to foreign investors is the government will take measures to cover the current operating fiscal deficit gap.

US Bond Auction TIPS the dollar

US Bond Auction TIPS the dollar

A dismal US 30year TIPS auction is weighing on dollar demand as the sagging bid to cover ratio of 2.31 is signalling dwindling investor appetite as inflationary headwinds build. The dollar is lower because no one wants to own US bonds despite the higher yield, knowing the inflationary headwinds will push yields higher and bond prices lower

The market remains nonplussed by the breakdown of FX /Interest rate correlations and while the debate still rages concerning Wednesday dollar sell-off. I think its time to throw textbook economics out the window as well as the so-called interest rate pivot point. G-10 yield differentials are so tiny that traders could care less about differentials as they become increasingly focused on the future outlook of the expanding US deficits and in particular the budget deficit

Another hot inflation reading as PPI showed a substantial gain but provided no bounce to the buck. When real money is taking the dollar to the woodshed and reluctant to own greenbacks in anyway shape or form, it matters little what the Feds are doing or yields for that matter. And by all indications, we could be in the early stages of protracted dollar sell-off.
Equity Markets

Equity investors are in a happy spot as US stock markets carved out their fifth consecutive day of gains. Despite a midday swoon, markets roared back as investors view the uptick in inflation as non-threatening and remain in buy on dip mode as last weeks equity meltdown looks more and more like an illogical outlier than ever.

Oil Markets

After the decent bounce on the back weaker dollar and Khalid al-Falih suggesting no imminent demise of OPEC and non-member compliance. Not unexpected the markets are becoming a bit more position sensitive heading into the weekend. The weaker US dollar has been a significant component driving market sentiment, and with the dollar entering oversold territory at weeks end, we could see short dollar position pared which could negatively impact interday oil prices.

Frankly giving the evolving vital narratives surrounding OPEC compliance vs Shale output I expect the WTI whipsaw to be as active next week as it was this week. But given the overly bearish outlook for the greenback, we may have printed a short-term floor and dips will remain supported.

Gold Markets

There was very little follow through on the much hotter than expected US PPI print which convinced investors to book some profits after gold rallied hard the previous session. A while the weaker USD is underpinning gold prices, the short dollar speculators a bit overextend suggesting the market could pare back US short dollar risk which may temper topside expectations for Gold prices today. Medium-term bullish conviction remains intact given the higher US inflation profile and weaker USD narrative.

Crypto Markets

Bitcoin buyers were back en masse chasing the dream as the fear of missing ( FOMO)out propelled BTC above 10,000. It appears the recent wave or regulatory worries have been tempered as the massive South Korean market could roar back to life as rumours are circulating that Seoul is looking at licencing several exchanges adding a level of credibility and shoring up severely dented investor confidence.
Currency Markets

The Japanese Yen

Talking about FOMO, is there anyone who is not short USDJPY? Of course, “the crowded trade theory” did cross my mind overnight, for second or two, as USDJPY powered back to 106.80 overnight on the Wakatabe headline, before pressing the sell button again. Dovish or not the market cares little about centeral bank policy these days while looking for any and all opportunities to hammer the dollar mercilessly. With very little chance of intervention at these levels, the JPY bulls should continue to have their way near-term.But short-term speculators are a bit stretched so now is not the time to get greedy.Let’s see what fortunes next week brings.

The Euro

It looks like the grind higher is back in fashion, and the upticks have been relentless over the past 24 hours. But unlike the recent test of 1.25 positioning is much lighter so we could punch higher as traders continue moan over not buying the dips to the low 1.22’s

The Malaysian Ringgit

Powerful bullish signals are falling on deaf ears as investors are far and few between due to Chinese Lunar New Year and quite frankly it’s not worth paying the holiday liquidity premiums to put on risk. Very little offshore interest today so expect the market to remain quiet.

At the Edge of a Cliff

At the Edge of a Cliff

Was it the mixed data, skewed positioning or merely a lack of confidence that has the USD dollar precariously perched at the edge of the cliff.

Everyone one to a tee went all in on a dollar buying frenzy after the CPI number, but the lack of follow-through was very telling, and the quick rebound stopped out all those newly minted positions and then some. The markets sold AUD, NZD heavily at the lows and then got summarily spanked when traders started to factor in the conflicting data prints.

While the Strong CPI reading does present a hawkish risk for the Feds dot plots in March, the miss in the US retail sales data has the street scrambling to revise GDP estimates lower.The divergent data stream has escalated the market debate of critical importance, specifically is it inflation or growth that will dictate the Fed pace of interest rate normalisation?

But the bottom line for the US  dollar in my view, amidst rising inflation the prospect of increasing deficits, both trade and budget, should weigh like an anvil around  the dollar bulls neck

Equity markets

In seemingly absurd fashion, US equity investors ignored the inflationary signals and focused on weaker-than-expected US retail sales report.  There is an increasing possibility that the Powell may blink and the Feds will be more hesitant to guide monetary policy given the waning growth narrative.
Gold Markets 

Higher US inflation combined with the USD exhibiting zero correlation to higher interest rates amidst burdening duel deficits should play out favourably for Gold markets. The weaker dollar narrative is playing out most favourably across, the broader commodity space and gold demand could surge and push above this year’s highs.  Also,  the sustainability of the frothy equity market given the weak retail sales print suggest increasing gold equity hedges is a practical move.

Oil Markets 

A weaker dollar and verbal intervention from Saudi Energy minister who suggested significant oil producers would prefer tighter markets than end supply cuts too early has seen oil prices do an about-face. The Suadi signal is reasonably convincing suggesting  OPEC and their partners are committed to maintaining an absolute floor on oil prices

As indicated earlier in the week, the battle lines are forming around this key WTI 60.00 bpd as the Shale oil gusher will continue to weigh heavily on OPEC effort to blow out the worldwide glut.

However physical demand remains weak globally so traders will continue to monitor the USD /Oil price correlation and at first sign of flutter, it could signal a downdraft.
Currency Markets

Japanese Yen

With the Interest rate to FX correlation is in “Neverland”, It could be open season on USDJPY after convincingly crossing the 107 USDJPY Rubicon. If the market focuses aggressively shift to the US’s duelling deficit amid higher inflation, the dollar days are numbered in the 107’s if we factor in an expected Exporter flow panic which could be exacerbated by push Japanese investors to raise their hedge ratios on US investments fearing a further fall in the greenback.

While we should expect the usual verbal lashing from Japan’s currency officials, I suspect we are still ways off from overt intervention

The Austrailian Dollar

It’s always good to go into critical economic data with a plan B even if it’s from outer space.  Expect the unexpected and today we see  Aussie is benefiting from resurgent Commodities and US dollar weakness as the greenback is showing no correlation to higher US rates.

Malaysian Ringgit

A weaker US dollar, rebounding commodity prices have the MYR sitting well supported by yesterday’s robust GDP print adding good measure

Dollar weakness is seeping in the USDJPY and USDCNH which will provide a positive backdrop for regional currency markets, and we should expect the MYR to be one of the keys go to currencies as positions remain under positioned post-January monetary policy meeting.  Higher US interest rates are showing little obstacle for regional currency appreciation so the MYR should benefit

Not to weave a cautionary tales but liquidy is a bit thin given in regional markets given the proximity of China Lunar New Year so best to be nimble in these conditions