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.

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.

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

Fed Rhetoric to Dictate Dollar Direction

Friday February 23: Five things the markets are talking about

Ahead of the U.S open, Euro equities are struggling for direction after a positive Asian session as the market debates the outlook for central banks ‘normalizing’ their policies.

Euro bonds have gained along with Treasuries, while the dollar steadies after yesterday’s drop.

With no U.S data on the docket today, the market will shift its attention towards a plethora of Fed speakers doing the rounds.

First up will be New York Fed Chief, William Dudley, who kicks off proceedings at 10:00 am EDT as he addresses the “Monetary Policy Forum” in Chicago.

Note: Dudley is making his final rounds of appearances before his retirement.

Appearing at the same conference shall be Boston Fed President Rosengren, who is one of the Fed’s more “dovish” members, but who is not a “voter” this year.

Ms. Mester, the President of the Cleveland Fed, will be speaking at the same conference this afternoon at 1:00 PM EDT. She is a “voter” this year and a “hawk.”

Finally, Mr. Williams, the President of the San Francisco Fed, a “voter” on the FOMC this year and generally considered a “moderate,” will be speaking to a group on the west coast on the economy and monetary policy at 03:40 pm EDT.

1. Stocks gain in thin trading

In Japan, stocks rallied in light trade as receding fears of more aggressive U.S interest rate hikes boosted sentiment. The benchmark Nikkei ended +0.7% higher. For the week, it was up +0.8%.The broader Topix gained +0.8%.

Down-under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed +0.8% higher to cap its best week since Oct. In S. Korea, the Kospi had its best day since Oct. 10 rising +1.5%.

In Hong Kong, stocks rose overnight, capping a holiday-shortened trading week, as main indexes managed to recover much of the damage done during the recent rout. The Hang Seng index rose +1.0%, while the China Enterprises Index gained +1.7%.

In China, shares extended their rebound overnight, on sign’s that the Chinese government is once again supporting the stock market. The blue-chip CSI300 index ended up +0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained +0.6% in a holiday-shortened week. Both indexes have rebounded over +7% from a low print on Feb. 9.

Note: One of China’s largest insurance companies, Anbang Insurance Group, was seized as it violated laws and regulations that could seriously endanger the solvency of the company.

In Europe, regional indices trade mixed this morning with strength in the Italian MIB offset by weakness in the Spanish Ibex and FTSE.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘black’ (+0.3%).

Indices: Stoxx600 flat at 380.4, FTSE -0.2% at 7238, DAX +0.1% at 12470, CAC-40 flat at 5310, IBEX-35 -0.2% at 9858, FTSE MIB +0.4% at 22541, SMI -0.6% at 8917, S&P 500 Futures +0.3%

2. Crude oil prices rally, gold little changed

Crude oil prices remain better bid and range bound following the release of this week’s EIA inventory report, which showed a somewhat surprising decline in crude oil inventories on the order of -2.3m barrels compared to the average increase of +3.4m barrels in the previous five-years.

U.S oil production last week was steady at +10.27m bpd, a record level, while crude exports jumped to more than +2m bpd, close to a record +2.1m hit in October.

Crude bulls are beginning to ask if the “bull” rally could fade away as the U.S. oil production undermines the OPEC production cut commitments.

Note: The decline in crude inventories was particularly acute in Cushing. U.S oil refineries averaged approximately +15.8m bpd during the week ending February 16 or about -330k fewer bpd than last week previous.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices are little changed, but the ‘yellow metal’ remains on track for its sharpest weekly drop in nearly three-months. Spot gold is down -0.1% at +$1,329.16 an ounce.

Note: Prices gained +0.6% Thursday, their biggest one-day percentage rise since Feb. 14. The precious metal remains on track for its biggest weekly fall since the week ended Dec. 8, 2017.

3. Sovereign yields fall

Capital markets remains somewhat sceptical that the recent streak of data on wage growth, consumer prices and producer prices points to a rapid acceleration in inflation on either side of the Atlantic.

Data this morning from the Eurozone showed that consumer price growth slowed slightly last month (see below), but the core-measure edged a tad higher for the first time in months.

The ten-year U.S yield has eased, but remains atop of their 2014 high print, while those on German bunds dropped to the lowest since early January.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries decreased -2 bps to +2.90%. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has fallen -2 bps to +0.70%, the lowest in four weeks. In the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield has declined -2 bps to +1.546%. In Japan, 10-year JGB’s yield has dipped less than -1 bps to +0.05%, the lowest in more than seven-weeks.

4. Dollar on the back foot

The U.S dollar is modestly weaker as the market is apparently ready to accept as a given that the Fed shall move at least three times this year to tighten monetary policy and to raise the overnight fed funds rate. The only question is whether the Fed shall move for a fourth time and by how much?

For the ‘single’ unit, it’s not only next weekend’s Italian general election (Mar 4) that poses a risk to the EUR (€1.2313), but also Sunday week is the same date that Germany’s SPD party members will vote on the proposed CDU/SPD coalition. The market is currently pricing in a +40-50% chance of a rejection, a result that could see Chancellor Angela Merkel step down.

Elsewhere, the pound (£1.3950) has edged a tad higher after U.K’s PM Theresa May won the backing of her divided Brexit “war cabinet” to ask for an ambitious trade deal with the E.U.

The SEK (€10.0388) is a tad softer outright as the market felt that the Riksbank Feb minutes this morning were on the softer side with concerns lingering over inflation and the exchange rate given the recent negative surprise with Jan CPI data.

5. Eurozone Jan CPI unrevised, but still a distance from target

Eurostat said consumer prices in the 19 countries sharing the ‘single unit’ fell -0.9% m/m in January for a +1.3% y/y increase.

Ex-food and energy, or core-inflation, fell -1.3% m/m and rallied +1.2% y/y, accelerating from +1.1% in the previous three months.

An even broader measure of core inflation, which in addition excludes alcohol and tobacco prices, also increased to +1.0% y/y in January from +0.9% in the previous three-months.

Forex heatmap

24 hours of reconciliation

24 hours of reconciliation
It took all of 24 hours for the results of the rationality test to kick in after traders took time to the read the minutes from Wednesday. Not a heck of a lot has changed in the Feds view. The minutes were far more balanced than the equity market sell-off suggested. The discussions about their inflation target being symmetric indicate that the Feds are less concerned about the updraft from inflationary pressures than current market pricing. Overall there were few if any significant hawkish shift and traders have started to nimbly re-engage the US dollar downside not waiting until Powell’s key Humphrey Hawkins testimony which should clear up more than a few policy concerns.

The Feds will raise interest rates in March on the back of two strong inflation prints post-January meeting, but the market remains comfortably parked in the three rate hike camp for 2018.
This new Fed Chair will be as data dependent as his predecessor so, in reality, no one knows for sure what the Feds will do other than hike somewhere between two and four times in 2018.

Bond Markets

The bond markets continue to trade from a bear market bias, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon given the burdening supply issues which are compounded as the Feds delicately and gingerly pull back on QE largess.

Stock Markets
US equity market rebounded as concerns over rising US interest rates abate. If you were confused by Wednesday 50 pips downside adventure on the S&P post-FOMC minutes, you were not alone. However, until the dust is settled on the Fed policy debate, we should expect more back and forth ahead of Jerome Powells Humphrey Hawkins testimony.
Oil markets

Oil market bid was boosted by DoE inventories which saw a draw of -1.616 million barrels which far better than consensus and more profound than the -.9mn print by the API. While the market continues to communicate concern over rising levels of shale production, this bullish inventory data coupled with a slightly softer USD profile, it’s easy to see why oil prices are finding fresh session highs going into the NY close.
Gold Markets

Gold continues to act as less of a haven hedge and more as a proxy for USD sentiment. Given the greenback is trading within a restricted range as the stage is getting prepared for new Chair Jerome Powell, gold will remain supported by the $ 1324-25 levels given the markets ubiquitous bias to sell the USD.  But the topside should also stay in check as most traders will opt to only aggressively re-engage in  USD downside after Powell clears the policy airwaves in his Humphrey Hawkins testimony.

The Japanese Yen

No need to jump the gun, today’s CPI data will be a crucial driver in JPY sentiment. Post data comments to follow.

The Euro
Fact of fiction, the Euro remains a point of contention, but topside conviction remains low ahead of the Italian election compounded by softer EU economic data.

The Malaysian Ringgit 

The USDMYR landscape is a bit muddled, and this air of uncertainty could extend, more so if opinion on the soft dollar narrative become less reliable. Rising US interest rates and the markets growing sensitivity to local economic data presents some near-term challenges for the Ringgit. Ultimately we believe that US rates are in the process of topping but until we get a definitive signal from the New Fed chair, hopefully, next week, we should expect offshore flows to remain light in the short run.

None the less the Ringgit is getting support from higher oil prices and given we are far removed from the USDJMYR 4.0 danger zone, longer-term investors should continue to look for opportunistic levels to re-engage long MYR posting

The Chinese Yaun

Markets in China return from a week-long holiday only to discover the US has initiated another anti-dumping probe.. This time for rubber bands. Certainly sounds more bark than the bit, but non the less trade war discussion is picking up.

Continue to favour a constructive view on the Yuan given the markets negative USD bias. But he RMB complex will most certainly benefit from expected bond inflows which should accelerate as we move through 2018.

Higher Yields Pushing Dollar Up

Tuesday February 20: Five-things the markets are talking about

Overnight, global stock indexes have declined along with U.S futures, while the ‘big’ dollar has rallied a tad as U.S Treasury yields back up towards their four-year highs.

No central bank meetings are scheduled for this week although minutes from the latest FOMC (Wed) and the ECB meetings (Thurs.) will be published.

Note: Given the forthcoming March FOMC meeting (March 20 -21) when markets expect another +25 bps increase, dealers will be looking for signs that the majority of the committee is aligned for the increase. They also will be looking to see how the FOMC’s views on inflation have evolved.

In the U.K, there will be two major releases – the labor market report (Wed) and the second estimate of Q4 GDP (Thurs.) Elsewhere, Canada will post December retail sales (Thurs.) and consumer prices for January (Fri).

With little to no economic U.S data on tap, the markets focus now turns to the U.S Treasury department, which opens its auction floodgates beginning with today’s record supply of +$151B of three- and six- month bills (Total new debt supply is +$258B this week).

The U.S debt sales should provide a better market understanding of how steep yields can back up in the short-term.

Note: Fed policy makers speaking this week include NY Fed President Dudley and Atlanta Fed President Bostic and Cleveland Fed President Mester is among speakers at the U.S Monetary Policy Forum in NY.

1. Global stocks see ‘red’

Asian equities took their cue from Monday’s European bourse direction as U.S stocks and Treasuries took a break for the Presidents’ Day holiday.

In Japan, the Nikkei fell -1%, surrendering some of its early-week rise thanks to weakness in its electronics and banking sectors. Selling came despite a slip in the yen outright (¥107.10). The Topix fell -0.7%.

Down-under, the Aussie’s S&P/ASX 200 ended flat. In S. Korea, the Kospi fell -1.1%, dragged lower by index heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which dropped another -2% after falling -1.3% on Monday.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index pared an early slide, down -0.2%, on its first full day of trading in nearly a week. The main benchmark in Singapore fell -0.2%; while Indian’s Sensex was last up +0.4%.

Note: With Chinese and Taiwanese markets still closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, investors should be cautioned against reading too much into recent price action due to thin volumes.

In Europe, indices trade mostly higher across the board following the weakness seen yesterday, with the FTSE under performing being weighed on by HSBC and BHP Billiton following results.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘red’ (-0.8%).

Indices: Stoxx600 flat at 378.3, FTSE -0.5% at 7213, DAX -0.1% at 12373, CAC-40 flat at 5257, IBEX-35 +0.2% at 9829, FTSE MIB +0.1% at 22582 , SMI flat at 8907, S&P 500 Futures -0.8%

2. Oil markets mixed, Brent and WTI move in opposite directions

U.S crude prices are still carrying momentum from Friday’s gains due to yesterday’s President Day’s holiday while international Brent prices have eased.

U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are at +$62.31 a barrel, up +63c, or +1% from Friday’s close. Ongoing supply reductions from Canada to the U.S due to pipeline reductions are supporting WTI prices.

Brent crude has eased on the back of a dip in Asian stocks and a stronger dollar. Brent crude futures are at +$65.54 per barrel, down -13c, or -0.2% from yesterday’s close.

Note: Oil markets remain well supported due to supply restraint by the OPEC. Yesterday, OPEC Secretary-General Barkindo said the organization registered a +133% compliance with agreed output reduction targets in January.

However, soaring U.S production is threatening to erode OPEC’s efforts. Last week, the amount of U.S oilrigs drilling for new production rose for a fourth consecutive week to +798.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have slid for a third consecutive session as the ‘mighty’ buck rebounds from its three-year lows, while the market waits Wednesday’s Fed minutes for clues on the outlook for U.S interest rates. Spot gold is down -0.2% at +$1,343.22 an ounce.

3. Sovereign yields trade atop record highs

This is a huge week for bond investors, as the U.S Treasury prepares to sell +$258B worth of new debt, starting with today’s record sale of +$151B of three- and six- month bills. These debt sales should provide a better understanding of how steep U.S yields could back up in the short-term.

After building up a record “short” position in U.S 2-year futures and historically large short positions across other maturities, higher volatility this month has seen a sharp reduction in these record shorts over the past week.

The biggest reversal was in two-year product – net short positions were slashed by +76,772 contracts to -133,986.

The U.S 10-year is now at +2.92% ahead of the first trading day this week after yesterday’s holiday.

In Japan, BoJ Governor Kuroda did not discuss monetary policy during an appearance in parliament. Speculation has been swirling about the possibility the BoJ might scale back its stimulus since they reduced their purchases of JGB’s last month.

Down-under, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reiterated in its minutes of this month’s policy meeting that inflation is expected to “only gradually” accelerate as the economy strengthens and wage pressures increase.

4. Dollar gains against most G7 pairs

Ahead of the U.S open, the U.S dollar has seen some steady gains outright versus G7 currency pairs, aside from sterling. The gains are reflective of U.S yields pushing a tad higher.

Sterling has jumped from its overnight low of £1.3934, to again trade north of the psychological £1.4000 handle on news that the European Parliament is putting a document together outlining its desire for an “association agreement” with post-Brexit Britain. This is a break from the position of the chief E.U negotiator Barnier and could allow Britain to retain “privileged” access to the single market.

5. German ZEW Survey moves off from record highs

Germany’s ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment recorded a decrease of 2.6 points this month and currently stands at 17.8 points.

The indicator remains slightly below the long-term average of 23.7 points. The assessment of the current economic situation in Germany decreased by 2.9 points, with the corresponding indicator currently standing at 92.3 points.

Comments from ZEW President Wambach: “The latest survey results continue to show a positive outlook for the German economy. The assessment of the current economic situation is still on a very high level and the economy is expected to improve in the coming six months. Economic growth in Germany is substantially driven by the very good development of both the global economy and private consumption. Inflation expectations for Germany and the Eurozone have also started to increase.”

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Dollar Dives on Confidence, No Support from Fundamentals

Thursday February 15: Five things the markets are talking about

U.S bond yields have backed after an unexpected rise in U.S consumer inflation to its fastest pace in a year – the core’s +1.8% y/y print yesterday was higher than expected, but still below the Fed’s +2% target – making it more likely the Fed will raise interest rates three or more times this year. But, higher U.S rates have not been able to make the U.S dollar more attractive.

The dollar remains under pressure, building on yesterday’s slide in the Euro session, as the market seems to be losing confidence in the long-run state of the U.S economy.

The Dollar Index is down -0.5% and poised to log another three-year low if the decline persists as we head to U.S session open.

Without any new positive U.S demand or supply shocks that could change the landscape for the country’s economy, it’s easy to see the weak dollar story persisting.

For the dollar to rise with Treasury yields, which it has not been doing this year, there needs to be a return in relative confidence over the medium-term U.S.

Also yesterday, January retail sales fell unexpectedly in their biggest drop in 11- months, declining -0.3%, raising new concerns about the U.S economy as a weaker sale print will lead to lower expectations for Q1 GDP growth.

1. Stocks edge higher

The global stock rally is marching ahead as investors take in stride a jump in sovereign yields.

In Japan, the Nikkei posted a solid rise despite a stronger yen (¥106.31). The index ended up +1.5% overnight, after tumbling to a four-month low on Wednesday. The broader Topix advanced +1.0%.

Down-under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rebounded +1.2% as the stock index’s energy component rallied +2.4% to reverse some of this month’s decline.

In a shortened session ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped +2%. Its rise of +5.4% this week has erased +50% of last week’s decline, its biggest fall in a decade.

Note: China, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam markets were all closed.

In Europe, regional indices continue their ascent higher, tracking another positive session in Asia and on Wall Street yesterday. The French CAC is +1% higher following earnings from a host of Index components. The Swiss SMI is underperforming after Nestle reported mixed results.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘black’ (+0.8%).

Indices: Stoxx600 +0.9% at 378.0, FTSE +0.7% at 7264, DAX +0.9% at 12455, CAC-40 +1.6% at 5248, IBEX-35 +1.3% at 9808, FTSE MIB +1.1% at 22687, SMI +0.2% at 8924, S&P 500 Futures +0.8%

2. Oil rises on Saudi commitment to withhold output, gold higher

Oil prices have rallied +1% overnight to extend their gains from yesterday’s session, lifted by a weak dollar and Saudi comments that it would rather see an undersupplied market than end a deal with OPEC.

Brent crude futures are at +$64.99 a barrel, up +63c, or +1%, extending Wednesday’s +2.6% climb. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are up +83c, or +1.4%, from Wednesday’s close at +$61.43 a barrel, adding to its +2.4% gain.

Oil markets have got a push from comments by Saudi Arabia, voicing support for output cuts backed by OPEC and other producers including Russia since 2017 in an effort to tighten the market and prop up prices.

OPEC Secretary General Barkindo said that preliminary data for January points to high compliance of cuts by producers.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have edged a tad higher as the dollar weakens and investors’ bank on the precious metal as a hedge against inflation. Spot gold is up +0.3% at +$1,354.34 an ounce and is heading for a fourth consecutive session of gains.

3. Sovereign yields rise

The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries is nudging closer to +3%, continuing its steady advance from last year’s low of +2.01% in September.

Following this weeks U.S inflation data, and the potential implications that it has for the pace of Fed rate increases this year, the market will be closely scrutinize speeches later today by ECB policy makers to see whether the recent market turmoil will convince them to ease off plans to taper their bond purchases.

Note: Fed-fund futures show a +21% chance of at least four interest-rate increases by year-end, compared with +17% earlier this week.

In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has gained +1 bps to +0.77%, the highest in more than two years on the biggest gain in a week.

4. Dollar dives again

The USD remains on the defensive despite higher U.S yields –the currency is usually highly correlated to short-term rates. Market seems to be reacting to concerns over weak U.S policies and/or diverging central bank policies as both the BoJ and ECB could begin tightening monetary policy.

The EUR/USD (€1.2467) probed the upper end this week’s and year range as the pair re-tested the €1.25 handle. Sterling (£1.4042) is a tad higher initially aided by reports that the E.U Commission was looking to ease the Brexit transition conditions. However, the E.U later refuted the reports. The pound is also finding support not only from the dollar’s weakness, but also a perceived higher probability that the current U.K government will serve its full five-year term.

USD/JPY (¥106.69) continues to trade atop of its 15-month lows as the pair probed below ¥106.20 overnight. Japan’s Finance Minister Aso comments that the yen’s strength is not abrupt enough to require intervention supported the yen’s rally.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin (BTC) is moving back toward $10,000, up +6% on the day at +$9,840 – the price had slumped some -70% in the past six weeks.

5. Crisis in the Northern Ireland

U.K PM Theresa May is facing a political crisis in Northern Ireland as the DUP, who are part of the government’s coalition, have stated there was “no prospect” of a power sharing deal and suggested a return to direct rule.

This crisis threatens to throw the Good Friday agreement into jeopardy and would be a significant blow to P.M May’s authority as she attempts to agree to a crucial Brexit deal over the Irish border.

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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

Will it be a Valentines Day Massacre for the Dollar?

Wednesday February 14: Five things the markets are talking about

Are financial markets justified going from a growth story to an inflation narrative?

Today’s U.S consumer price index (08:30 am) is being touted as one of the most significant economic releases in a number of years as capital markets seek to understand the recent plunges in global equities and sovereign bonds.

With investors already on edge, they are expected to renew this months convulsion on any sign that U.S inflation is exceeding expectations at a rate that may entice the Fed to quicken its plans for tightening monetary policy.

Already this month, after a stronger U.S non-farm payroll (NFP) print and wage numbers, investors have sent U.S Treasury yields aggressively higher and instigated a rout in equities that pushed them into the first correction in 18-months.

Note: Market expectations are looking for the core-CPI (ex-food and energy) to rise +1.7% in January y/y compared with the +1.8% increase in December. U.S retail sales are also out this morning and are expected to have increased for a fifth consecutive month.

A higher CPI will give the USD strength, lead to higher yields and lower equity prices, but a tepid headline print could cause more of a problem, especially with record short U.S 10-year treasury position and a market focusing on President Trump’s proposed budget and the rise in U.S twin deficits.

Note: Lunar New Year celebrations for the Year of the Dog begin, affecting China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Chinese mainland markets are closed Feb. 15-21.

1. Stocks mixed reaction

In Japan, the Nikkei share average dropped to a fresh four-month low overnight as investor sentiment was again sapped by worries about U.S inflation data due this morning. The Nikkei ended -0.4% lower, its lowest closing since early October. The broader Topix fell -0.8%.

Down-under, the Aussie S&P/ASX 200 index fell -0.3%, following a +0.6% rise on Tuesday. In S. Korea the Kospi closed out the overnight session up +1.1%, helped by a +3% jump in Samsung.

In Hong Kong, shares rebound sharply ahead of Lunar New Year holiday. Trading will resume on Feb 20. At close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up +2.27%, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose +2.14%.

In China, stocks rebounded overnight, but volumes were thin, as many traders had already left for the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday. Chinese markets will reopen on Feb. 22. At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up + 0.46%, while the blue-chip CSI300 index was up +0.8%.

In Europe, regional indices trade higher across the board following a rebound in Wall Street yesterday and strength in U.S futures this morning.

U.S stocks are set to open in the black (+0.4%).

Indices: Stoxx600 +0.7% at 373.2, FTSE +0.7% at 7216, DAX +0.7% at 12286, CAC-40 +0.6% at 5139, IBEX-35 +0.5% at 9693, FTSE MIB +0.2% at 22071, SMI +0.9% at 8832, S&P 500 Futures -+0.4%

2. Oil dips on looming oversupply and weak U.S dollar, gold higher

Oil prices have dipped overnight, pressured by lingering oversupply including rising U.S inventories. However, the prospect of Saudi output dropping next month, economic growth hopes and a weaker U.S dollar all combined to limit losses.

Brent crude futures are at +$62.68 per barrel, down -4c. Brent was above +$70 a barrel earlier this month. U.S West Texas Intermediate crude futures are at +$59.06 a barrel, down -13c from yesterday’s close. WTI was trading above +$65 in early February.

On Wednesday, the Saudi energy ministry said that Saudi Aramco’s crude output in March would be -100k bpd below this month’s level while exports would be kept below +7m bpd.

Stateside, yesterday’s API report showed that U.S crude inventories rose by +3.9m barrels in the week to Feb. 9, to +422.4m.

Note: That is due to soaring U.S crude production, which has jumped by over +20% since mid-2016 to more than +10m bpd, surpassing that of top exporter Saudi Arabia and coming within reach of Russia, the world’s biggest producer.

Oil traders will take their cue from today’s EIA print (10:30 am EDT) and U.S inflation release.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have rallied for a third consecutive session overnight to hit a one-week high, buoyed by a weaker U.S dollar, while the market awaits U.S inflation data for clues on the pace of future Fed rate increases. Spot gold is up +0.3% at +$1,332 an ounce.

3. Sovereign yields little changed

Earlier this morning, Sweden’s Central Bank (Riksbank) kept their repo rate unchanged at -0.5%. Deputy governor Henry Ohlsson voted to raise rates, but the central bank’s signals on inflation were more downbeat. The inflation forecast for this year was downgraded to +1.8% from +2%. The statement indicated that policy makers would start raising the rate in H2 of 2018. Policy makers stressed that was important not to raise the rate too early and was committed to stimulus to prevent inflation setbacks.

Elsewhere, fixed income seeks guidance from today’s U.S CPI release. The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries fell less than -1 bps to +2.83%. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield declined -2 bps to +0.74%, while in the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield dipped -1 bps to +1.618%. In Japan, the 10-year JGB yield decreased -1 bps to +0.07%, the lowest in more than five weeks.

4. Dollar on soft footing

The USD remains on soft footing ahead of key Jan CPI data for the U.S.

The EUR/USD is steady, trading atop of the €1.2350 area after various European GDP data highlighted better economic growth prospects (see below).

USD/JPY tested ¥106.85 overnight for 15-month lows. The pair came off its worst level to approach 107.50 just ahead of the N.Y session after Japanese officials reiterated that they had no comments on forex levels.

In S. Africa, political optimism that President Zuma would resign has sent the ZAR currency to its best level in nearly two-years outright. The South African Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Maimane (opposition) has stated that its motion to dissolve parliament was processed by Speaker. USD/ZAR is at $11.85 ahead of the open stateside.

The Swedish krona has been volatile after the Riksbank interest rate decision. The krona briefly rose soon after the announcement, but has since pared those gains EUR/SEK last trades flat on the day at €9.9163, compared with €9.8952 before the decision.

5. Euro-zone economy ends 2017 on a high note

Note: There were a number of European GDP releases in the Euro session highlighting better economic growth prospects – Germany mixed; Netherlands beat and Italy a miss.

Industry helped drive the euro-zone’s +0.6% expansion in Q4. This morning’s ‘flash’ estimate of Q4 GDP is the second release and confirms that quarterly growth slowed a tad from Q3’s +0.7% to +0.6%.

There is no breakdown until the next release; however, expenditure evidence would suggest that weaker consumer spending growth was the main driver of the slowdown, while investment expanded after Q3’s contraction and net trade again made a positive contribution to growth.

Digging deeper, industry appears to have made a stronger contribution to GDP growth than in Q3. Following the consensus-beating +0.4% monthly rise in IP in December.

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USD Under Pressure as Traders eye U.S Inflation

Tuesday February 13: Five things the markets are talking about

Euro equities are trading steady despite a late down swing in Asia, as investors wrestle to find direction after this month’s early collapse.

The dollar has weakened against G10 currency pairs while Treasuries have edged a tad higher along with gold. Crude is heading for its first advance in eight sessions.

Investors are looking to tomorrow’s U.S. consumer-price data for some clues on direction, given that pressure on stocks have been stemming from the outlook for inflation.

The market is expecting U.S consumer-price index to probably increase at a moderate pace last month along with U.S retail sales – both due out tomorrow.

Note: Lunar New Year celebrations for the Year of the Dog begin, affecting China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Chinese mainland markets are closed Feb. 15-21.

1. Stocks mixed review

In Japan, the Nikkei share average closed at a four-month low overnight as investors turned somewhat risk averse as the yen rallies outright. The Nikkei ended -0.7% lower, its lowest closing level in four months.

Down-under, Aussie shares tracked Wall St into positive territory. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose +0.6% at the close of trade, after a -0.3% yesterday. In S. Korea, the Kospi climbed +0.35%.

In Hong Kong, stocks rose overnight, tracking a global rebound, on bargain hunting. At close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up +1.29%, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises index rallied +0.88%.

In China, stocks rebounded, supported by investor sentiment aided by signs of government support and record bank lending last month. At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up +1%, while the blue-chip CSI300 index was up +1.19%.

In Europe, regional indices trade mostly lower taking the lead from weaker U.S futures. The FTSE trades little changed following a slightly hotter CPI reading, as Gilt yields pare declines.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘red (-0.6%).

Indices: Stoxx600 -0.1% at 372.7, FTSE flat at 7173, DAX -0.1% at 12266, CAC-40 -0.1% at 5133, IBEX-35 -0.6% at 9708, FTSE MIB -0.5% at 22215, SMI -0.3% at 8799, S&P 500 Futures -0.6%

2. Oil prices firm on weaker dollar, gold higher

Oil prices are better bid, supported by a rebound in global equities, as well as by a weaker dollar, which potentially supports more fuel consumption.

Brent crude futures are at +$62.97 per barrel, up +38c, or +0.6% from Monday’s close. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are at +$59.60 a barrel, up +31c or +0.5% from yesterday’s settlement.

The stronger prices came after crude registered its biggest loss in two years last week as global stock markets slumped.

Nonetheless, rising U.S production continues to undermine the efforts led by the OPEC and Russia to tighten markets and prop up prices.

Note: U.S oil production has rallied above +10m bpd, overtaking top exporter Saudi Arabia and coming within reach of top producer Russia.

There are also strong signals the output will rally further. Data last Friday showed that U.S energy companies added 26 oilrigs looking for new production, boosting the count to +791, the highest since April 2015.

Gold prices have hit a one-week high overnight, aided by a weaker dollar and as the market awaits for tomorrow’s U.S inflation data for clues on the pace of interest rate hikes. Spot gold is up +0.4% at +$1,327.81 an ounce.

Note: Yesterday, the yellow metal rose +0.5%, its biggest single-day percentage gain in more than one week.

4. Sovereign yields fall

G7 sovereign bond yields look attractive across the curve after yields rallied on a recovering global economy and on expectations central banks will tighten policy faster than previously thought.

With the lack of economic market news the fixed income market looks attractive and reason why yields fell in the overnight session.

The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries fell -3 bps to +2.83%, the biggest drop in more than a week. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield declined -2 bps to +0.74%, the lowest in a week, while in the U.K the 10-year Gilt yield has dipped -1 bps to +1.601% despite the higher inflation print (see below).

4. Sterling reaction muted

The pound (£1.3896) has edged a tad higher after U.K January annual inflation unexpectedly remained at +3% (see below) as worries about the U.K. getting a transitional deal after breaking up from the E.U persist. EUR/GBP trades down -0.1% at €0.8868. Although the high inflation number will add to expectations for another BoE hike, futures prices would suggest that the market has priced in two rate increases for the next 12-months.

Note: PM Theresa May’s government will aim to address the Brexit transition in a series of six speeches by the prime minister and other senior ministers in the next few weeks, which her office dubbed “The Road to Brexit.” May’s first speech is to be delivered at a conference in Munich next Saturday, while Foreign minister Boris Johnson will begin the series with a speech tomorrow.

Elsewhere, the USD is modestly lower as President Trump’s proposed budget brings into focus the U.S twin deficits. The EUR/USD (€1.2337) is higher by +0.2%, while USD/JPY (¥107.55) is lower by -0.9% as fixed income dealers ponder the limits of an expansionary BoJ policy.

5. U.K inflation above target in January

Data this morning showed that U.K consumer prices rose +3% y/y in January. This headline print suggests that the Bank of England (BoE) case for higher borrowing costs is somewhat justified to bring borrowing costs back to its +2% annual goal.

The ONS said that the price gains were driven by clothing, footwear and recreational goods and services, especially tickets for zoos and gardens.

Note: Market consensus was expecting annual inflation in January to slow to +2.9%, from +3% m/m.

U.K Inflation has been above the BoE’s +2% annual target for 12-consecutive months. Last week the BoE said that they expected to raise interest rates at a swifter pace than they anticipated last year to contain growth in prices.

Note: The BoE raised its benchmark rate for the first time in a decade in November, to +0.5%. Futures prices suggest that the central bank will lift it again as soon as May.

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