A nervous beginning to the start of the week

Monday October 22: Five things the markets are talking about

Global equities remain better supported this Monday morning after Chinese stocks surged overnight on senior officials verbal intervention.

The ‘mighty’ U.S dollar has eased a tad along with treasuries, while Italian bonds have rallied.

The EUR had found some early support on the back of a ratings decision by Moody’s Investors Service late last Friday who removed the immediate threat of a downgrade to ‘junk.’ The market now awaits on S&P’s review this Friday.

Nevertheless, risks remain, from tension surrounding the Khashoggi murder and the ongoing Sino-U.S trade showdown to Italian budget fears and President Trump’s unpredictability ahead of U.S midterm elections.

On tap for this week, the Bank of Canada (BoC) is expected to increase its policy rate by +25 bps to +1.75% on Wednesday (Oct 24) despite last Friday’s disappointing inflation and retail sales readings.

Elsewhere, the European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to leave policy unchanged, but questions regarding Italy and its budget issues are expected to be front and center.

In Scandinavia, Sweden’s Riksbank and Norway’s Norges bank take center stage mid-week.

Stateside, earnings season gathers pace with notable highlights including Amazon, Alphabet, Intel, Verizon, Microsoft, Twitter, McDonald’s, and Caterpillar.

1. Stocks in the black

Japan’s Nikkei edged higher, supported by a rally in Chinese stocks on the promise of additional stimulus measures, triggering buying in firms exposed to China. The Nikkei share average rallied +0.37%, moving off a six-week low hit during last Friday’s session. The index is now down around -7.5% since hitting a 27-year high on Oct. 2. The broader Topix edged +0.15% higher.

Down-under, Aussie stocks ended lower on Monday, as political concerns rattled investors after the governing coalition looks set to lose its one-seat majority in parliament following a weekend by-election. The S&P/ASX 200 index closed -0.6% lower. In S. Korea, the Kospi stock index climbed on Monday supported by a strong Chinese market. The index rallied +0.5%.

In China, stocks surged overnight in the wake of coordinated statements of support by senior regulators, and as China prepares to overhaul its income tax law for individuals. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index was +4.2% higher, while the blue-chip CSI300 index jumped +4.4%.

The gains extended to Hong Kong, where the Hang Seng index added +2.3% and the China Enterprises Index ended +2.6% higher.

In Europe, indices trade higher across the board. Italy’s FTSE MIB outperforms after Moody’s cut the countries rating to the lowest investment grade, but put the outlook as stable, helping BTP futures rally.

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

Indices: Stoxx600 +0.22% at 362.02, FTSE +0.26% at 7,066.00, DAX +0.52% at 11,614.01, CAC-40 +0.24% at 5,096.82, IBEX-35 +0.73% at 8,957.30, FTSE MIB +0.66% at 19,205.50, SMI +0.30% at 8,892.50, S&P 500 Futures +0.18%

2. Brent oil back above $80 as Iran sanctions loom

Brent crude oil prices remain better bid as markets are expected to tighten once U.S sanctions against Iran’s crude exports come into effect in November.

Brent crude oil futures are at +$80.26 a barrel, up +48c, or +0.6%, above Friday’s close. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are at +$69.60 a barrel, up +48c, or +0.7%.

Note: The U.S sanctions on Iran, the third-largest producer in OPEC, are set to start on Nov. 4.

OPEC agreed in June to boost supply to make up for the expected shortfall in Iranian exports, however, recent data suggests that OPEC is struggling to add barrels as an increase in Saudi supply was offset by declines elsewhere.

Nevertheless, relief may come from the U.S, where offshore drillers added four oilrigs in the week to Oct. 19, bringing the total count to 873, according to Baker Hughes data on Friday. After months of stagnation, U.S crude production is expected to rise.

However, undermining sentiment is weaker China growth data and the ongoing Sino-U.S trade dispute. The full impact of the trade war is expected to hit markets early next year and provide a considerable drag on oil demand.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have edged higher overnight towards their three-month peak hit last week, as the ‘big’ dollar eased and worries over rising political tensions slowing global economic growth lent support to the ‘yellow’ metal. Spot gold is up +0.1% at +$1,226.52 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures are also up +0.1% at +$1,229.50 an ounce.

3. Italian yields drops by most in 4-months on Moody’s decision

Italian sovereign yields dropped across the curve after ratings agency Moody’s kept the country’s sovereign ratings outlook ‘stable’ while delivering an expected downgrade last week. The market was worried that the outlook would be ‘negative.’

Note: S&P’s review is expected this Friday (Oct 26). It now rates the country two notches above junk at BBB.

Italy’s five-year BTP yield dropped -36 bps to a two-week low of +2.63%, while the benchmark 10-year yield was -26.5 bps lower at +3.39%, its biggest daily drop in four-months. The BTP/Bund 10-year yield spread tightened to +284 bps.

Elsewhere, the yield on the U.S 10-year note rose +1 bps to +3.20%, while Germany’s 10-year Bund yield increased + 2bps to +0.48%. In the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield climbed +1 bps to +1.588%.

4. Dollar quiet across the board

The EUR/USD is a tad lower at €1.1515 after testing a high of €1.1550 overnight on the back of a relief rally in the 10-year BTP/Bund spread. Nevertheless, event risk persists ahead of the deadline for Italy to respond to the E.U Commission’s initial objections over the 2019 budget plan.

Expect Thursday’s ECB meeting to be closely watched, especially Draghi’s press conference, where the market is looking for more color on how the ECB would reinvest maturing QE proceeds post December this year.

GBP/USD is -0.3% lower at £1.3030 as Brexit talks again reached an impasse. However, PM Theresa May believes that +95% of the Brexit withdrawal deal is “now settled.” It’s believed that the PM is facing a rebellion by more than 40 Tory MP’s if she does not back down to fresh demands from Brexiteers’

Note: 48 votes are necessary for a leadership challenge

5. Italy says it’s ready to discuss budget with E.U authorities

The Italian government is ready to sit and discuss its budget targets with E.U, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said this morning, restating that the “populist” coalition had no plan to leave the euro.

Italy has sent a letter to the commission explaining its reasons for sticking to the +2.4% goal, and that the government was ready to “sit at the table”.

Note: Italy wants to hike its budget deficit to +2.4% from this year’s +1.8%. Last week, the E.U Commission labeled Italy’s 2019 draft budget an “unprecedented breach of EU fiscal rules.”

Forex heatmap

Global markets are enveloped in a classic case of risk aversion.

Global markets are enveloped in a classic case of risk aversion.

Global markets are enveloped in a classic case of risk aversion with all the main risk off hallmarks showing up in virtually every corner of the market. The S&P is down below the 200d moving average, FX carry is very wobbly, and  US 10y yields have corrected lower. Taking their cue from Asia markets North American traders read negatively into the USTR’s focus on China rather than the fact the report didn’t step on anyone’s tail. But the painfully raw price action from BTP-Bund spreads widening to a five-year high  triggered the latest  freefall  as risk assets virtually melted across the board

This week’s US earning inspired equity markets rebound is but a fleeting memory and has given way to the  lurking reality of bubbling trade-tension, geopolitical unrest, Italy risk and a hawkish fed narrative.

I guess when the Charmian of the world most powerful Central Bank views the US economy in the context of ‘remarkably positive outlook’ it’s probably not a great idea to assume the FOMC will walk back any hawkish interpretation.

While the US markets have been somewhat insulated from China equity market meltdowns this year, that strong historical correlation that “when China sneezes the rest of the world catches the flu” is starting to take hold. But things could get worse as the Yuan depreciation train could be arriving at the station anytime soon. Indeed, USDCNH warrants a high degree of attention as the test of the vaunted seven level looks increasingly inevitable as based on current price action more CNY/CNH depreciation is in the tea leaves.

And for good measure, not that I’m overly superstitious, but for the Chinese, number 7 can also be considered an unlucky number since the 7th month (July) is a “ghost month” and homophonous with death.


Are markets prepared for the destabilising effects of a rapidly weakening Yuan as we draw ever so ominously near another leg of RMB depreciation?

In the wake of a few dubious Yuan fixings of late, the Pboc are indicating a more lenient stance towards RMB depreciation.

The CFETS index has broken the 2017 low of 92, which may suggest more CFETS depreciation is necessary given further tariff threats, but the lack of capital inflow is what telling which is naturally weighing on support for the RMB, all of which is suggesting the depreciation train is nearing the station.

Oil Markets

EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report was a complete shocker sending Oil markets spiralling lower amidst some concerning development for Oil bulls.

With risk sentiment going into the tank and investors rehearsing worst-case scenarios around the asynchronous global growth sinkhole. Compounded by China contagion fears, there was hardly a bid to be found in New York markets. This significant price action and discovery suggests traders are no longer concerned about how high price will go but rather how quickly they will fall, as for today at least the bid on dip mentality has run for cover.

With any notion that  Riyadh would cut output and push oil prices higher a distant memory, Tanker Trackers data showing that Iran’s oil exports in the first two weeks of October were 10% higher than September averages compounded by massive worldwide inventory builds as the so-called ‘ hoarding effect” intensifies  Not to mention increasing chatter that Saudi Arabia will increase production. What appeared to be a ” sure-fire bet” for supply shortfalls when Iranian oil exports drop significantly in November, it’s has morphed into a bit of a white-knuckler of a trade.

On the bright side, however, since I remain unabashedly bullish on oil markets. So, after an 11 % fall and subsequent shake out in a mere two week, positions are much cleaner, and the fear of getting caught up in the crowded trade mentally heading for the exits has receded considerably. So it could be time to step back up to the plate. You know the old saying, no pain no gain!

Gold Markets

Gold prices are for the time being are held back by the stronger USD. But the enormity of the significant tail risks around the US midterm elections, and escalating pockets of geopolitical angst still make gold appeal a favourable tail hedge against these escalations. Despite the FOMC minutes cementing the Feds rate hike view, the US midterm elections to pose a significant headwind for both the USD and US equity markets as such Gold should remain a favourable hedge over the short term.

Currency Markets

Nothing else matters but the RMB (Rinse and Repeat yesterday currency view)

Chinese authorities are a lot more sensitive about the RMB on a trade-weighted basis rather than on a bilateral basis against the United States, and with the markets trading at the bottom end of the CFETS basket range, there will be more focus on the basket after two specifically odd fixes towards the end of last week. So, the debate rages if last week is a signal for a shift in policy. If authorities decide to let this CFETS level go, it will open a massive can of worms that should see USDCNH rocket higher and will have a positive knock-on effect for the USD.

Regardless of which direction the USDCNH moves the RMB will remain at the epicentre of currency markets and will drive the near-term direction of the dollar.

So, for local ASEAN currencies, I suspect they too will be held hostage to the RMB moves.

The Euro 

The Euro is worth noting as  EURUSD was dragged down on broader USD sentiment, but events of its own made it worse. Troubling Italian news hit one hour into the London close causing a calamitous meltdown in EU risk


Join me on Channel News Asia this morning at 7:30 AM SGT to review last nights price action Channel News Asia

Risk Aversion Lingers

Risk Aversion Lingers

It was a shaky day for US equities, but the broader indexes did manage to claw back from the depths of despair but still ended the day slightly lower only 24 hours after the most substantial gains in 6 months and reminding us just how fragile investor confidence is.

Risk aversion continues to permeant across global markets. While Oil prices were leaking everywhere (blame inventories), industrial metals also trade on a soft note. While there isn’t one reason, but there’s a sense of foreboding in the air. that the next US equity correction could be the ” big one.”

President has gone  postal 

But I’m looking no further than the President ratcheting up the rhetoric by ” going postal ” on China. Indeed US-China tensions are back on the radar, particularly with NYT suggesting Trump’s next target will be China’s cheap postage services. But the headlines aren’t much better in Europe which is intensifying investor jitters. There is zero expectation for a Brexit divorce agreement coming out of EU Summit while Italy budget is widely expected to be rejected by the EU. Late NY headlines from Reuters say that EU leaders are dropping plans to hold a November 17-18 summit for now – they are ready to meet again “if and when” the EU’s chief negotiation reports that decisive progress has been made in negotiations. An amicable Breixt divorce has certainly taken another significant hit.

The Greenback 

The USD rallied Wednesday, reflecting two forces: unwind of the prior two sessions of US weakness as USD haven flow picked up, and FOMC minutes which confirmed the Feds would continue to normalise rates for the foreseeable future.  This was the tail risk going into the minutes as some market participants thought the FOMC would walk back some of the markets more hawkish interpretation of Jay Powell post rate hike presser.

US Treasury FX Report 

Though released a little later than expected, the US Treasury’s semi-annual report on currencies was mainly in line with what was leaked to the press late last week: once again, no trading partner was named a currency manipulator. Moreover, the same countries – China, Japan, Korea, India, Germany, and Switzerland – were on the Treasury’s monitoring list.

Though China was not explicitly named this time, this report however materially escalated its language against China – in four significant ways.

1) The executive summary focuses on China’s history of unfair trade practices
2) China had their section while everyone else was grouped into another
3) The Treasury will review the RMB in 6 months
4) But the one major caveat is, and something the markets were suspecting all along. ” “as a further measure, this Administration will add and retain on the Monitoring List any major trading partner that accounts for a large and disproportionate share of the overall U.S. trade deficit even if that economy has not met two of the three criteria from the 2015 Act”.

The report comes out in line with market expectation and gives the markets another six months of breathing room. Hopefully, US-China can make some headways on the trade front. But giving China their section in the report suggests that the US Administration is ready for more punitive response China should discussions between Trump and Xi fail to yield results at next months G20

I guess we can breathe, at least for now, a temporary sigh of relief as we await the President who no doubt chime in on the US Treasury findings.

Oil Markets

A sizable shocker into this week more definitive EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report which has sent Oil markets spiralling lower  amidst some concerning development for Oil bulls

The DOE data for last week significantly more bearish than Tuesday’s American Petroleum Institute report, with crude stocks increasing 6.5 million barrels per day. This is particularly dispiriting on two fronts: (1) markets had positioned for last weeks bumper inventory report to retrace (2) API on Tuesday suggested we would see a draw.

However, Petroleum prices were testing the downside in London and early New York before the inventory data even after a Tuesday report from the American Petroleum Institute. The de-escalation in US-Saudi tension suggested the market was very prone to a downside correction on any inventory build.

So, for today at least it could be a case of how low prices will go rather than how high.

But given the Iran sanctions and uncertainty around the spare capacity debate $80 Brent should provide solid support, but oil bulls have considerably less breathing room than they had yesterday.

Gold Markets

The US dollar refuses to stay down for the count which saw gold prices fall to the bottom of recent ranges. But the enormity of the significant tail risks around the US midterm elections, and escalating pockets of geopolitical angst still make gold appeal a favourable tail hedge against these escalations. Despite the FOMC minutes cementing the Feds rate hike view, the US midterm elections to pose a significant headwind for both the USD and US equity markets as such Gold should remain a favourable hedge over the short term

Currency Markets

Nothing else matters but the RMB

Chinese authorities are a lot more sensitive about the RMB on a trade-weighted basis rather than on a bilateral basis against the United States, and with the markets trading at the bottom end of the CFETS basket range, there will be more focus on the basket after two specifically odd fixes towards the end of last week. So, the debate rages if last week is a signal for a shift in policy. If authorities decide to let this CFETS level go, it will open a massive can of worms that should see USDCNH rocket higher and will have a positive knock-on effect for the USD.

Regardless of which direction the USDCNH moves the RMB will remain at the epicentre of currency markets and will drive the near-term direction of the dollar.

So, for local ASEAN currencies, I suspect they too will be held hostage to the RMB moves.

Asia market closing view: fumbling into the EU summit


Currency markets have been relatively quiet in Asia ahead of the US Treasury FX report an no doubt markets will be eager to view the FOMC minutes where there is a considerable risk for a hawkish lean. Even more so after the subtly hawkish warm-up ahead of tonight’s FOMC minutes delivered by San Francisco’s new President Daly which is creating some noise today but turnover light. Long USD is not my base case view given the upcoming US elections risk, but a hawkish affirmation of Fed policy in the minutes will probably send the dollar bears back to their cages for the rest of the week and provide a boost to US dollar sentiment.


Gold prices have reversed earlier losses as the enormity of the significant tail risks around the US midterm elections, and escalating pockets of geopolitical angst make gold appeal a favourable tail hedge against these escalations. But on a near-term break of the signification $ 1234-1236 zone and given the bearish Hedge Fund compositions and structures on the Comex will come under intense pressure and we could see $1250+ in a heartbeat if these established short positions show signs of buckling.

Oil prices 

Oil prices have been steady in Asia but remain primarily supported Iran sanction as traders await the final EIA weekly petroleum status report due out later in the US session.


Not too surprisingly the effervescent bounce back in Asia equity sentiment has cooled as markets fumble into the EU summit But the enormity of global risk suggest the isolated US growth theme will come to an end like synchronised global growth theme, at least until US-China trade dispute is settled. On the trade war front especially, it’s too early in the game to build up Asian equity position with that enormous weight hanging over market sentiment.  Although markets did rebound in Asia, participation an turnover was that big.

But with FANNG earings showing a solid result yesterday, US equities should hold up ok today.

US Treasury FX report 

There may be too much overconfidence due to the recent equity market meltdown, that the President will accept the US treasury decision not to call China a currency manipulator. There’s a significant tail risk if the President doesn’t recognise the US Treasury findings at face value which should see the RMB complex sell off and equity markets buckle as trade war tension by implication will rocket significantly higher.


While avoiding all the headline bluster as much as possible, regardless I do not think the market will adjust their Brexit view until it is an obvious done deal because it is hard to PnL fissures to due headline risk. For some, that that will keep them sidelined but for those wearing UK risk or the few brave souls considering entering the mix, it could result in one of those rare home runs in both currency and rates markets for the not so meek of heart. This is as close to a real money dream set up as you can get in today’s market

President Trump 

US President Trump is out with another headline, which is creating some financial markets waves. “My biggest threat is the Fed,” Trump said on Tuesday during an interview with FOX Business. “Because the Fed is raising rates too fast, and it’s too independent,” he complained. Of course, nothing new but this noise does tend to make market participants extremely nervous when the Presidents do question the Fed mandate while wading into waters Presidents have typically considered out of bounds, specifically the Federal Reserve Boards independence.

But in the all too familiar good cop, bad cop routine is back in play. The frequency Fed-bashing has increased in recent days. US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has also tried to comfort market participants at times by saying Trump respects the independence of the Fed.

Asia market update: Focus on Yuan

You just know that something good is going to happen

Asia market update : Focus on Yuan

Asia market update: Focus on Yuan


Surprising busy start even with the absence of Hong Kong in the mix

The hawkish warm-up ahead of tonight’s FOMC minutes delivered by San Francisco’s new President Daly is creating some noise today after she said late in the NY session she does think it’s a balance between hiking too fast and getting behind the curve but her remarks on the economy are strong. On inflation, the Fed is “effectively at the 2.0% target.” For potential tailwinds, however, she does name three: financial conditions, global growth, and fiscal stimulus. Indeed there will be an intense focus on the new FOMC members to gauge the hawkish vs dovish composition of the new FOMC and this is weighing across the regional sentiment as she is camped on the hawkish end of the scale.

The Yuan fix

USDCNY fixed at 6.9103 today, -16 pips from last fixing and -83 pips from the previous closing at 6.9186 on 16:30 Beijing time. The fix is much lower than market expectations triggering a sell-off below 6.91, while the usual assortment of bids was absent on the fix, but the buy on dip mentality should prevail until a definite solution on the US-China trade front is offered up. The current playbook remains intact.

Via Deutsche Bank

Going over some market notes today: Sameer Goel at Deutsche bank suggests the divergence in trend between China’s estimated intervention activities and its holding of US Treasuries is increasingly notable as Deutsche bank has rated roughly US 17 billion in FX markets intervention was offset by US 18 billion in US Treasury sales. So, this is different to my morning thoughts that the Pboc were adding to their intervention war chest, but instead, they are selling US Treasuries for currency smoothing policy.

Oil prices

Oil prices came off at the Shanghai open on profit-taking, but Brent crude remains well bid after a test of the downside for the third consecutive day on Tuesday, given the bulls some room on stops likely layered between 79.50 and 79. Geopolitical tensions amidst reports that Iranian crude oil exports have continued to decline helped support the price. But again, local Asia sentiment is wobbly as Asia equity dealers can’t shake the overhang from US-China trade tensions. But given the prevailing bullish market lean we should expect these dips to be well supported.

Gold Prices

A case of the nervous Nellies is impacting freshly minted long gold positions as US equity futures continued to move higher in early trade. Indeed, there is still some overhanging sentiment that Golds strongest correlation is a communication of the overall health of the US economy as the SPX /XAUUSD correlation should carry. So, if the US economy is doing well as transmitted through the SPX bullishness, gold will sell off. But absent in this argument is the US midterm elections which will pose a significant risk to both equity and USD sentiment.

But perhaps the hawkish warm-up ahead of tonight’s FOMC minutes delivered by San Francisco’s new President Daly is weighing on Gold market sentiment.

Asia equities

Perhaps a bit surprising is that local equity markets are not exactly knocking it out of the park this morning. I suspected they would take their lead from the US equity froth. But again, local dealers remain a better seller of risk until a definitive shift in US-China trade tensions is offered up.

You just know that something good is going to happen, maybe not!

You just know that something good is going to happen

Cloudbusting: you  just know that something good is going to happen


US markets

In the span of a mere 24 hours two of my most pressing question may have been answered, correctly, can the anomalously robust US equity market hang on in the face of mounting global risks? And are we entering a period of drawn-out USD selling?

Mind you, with many distractions on the radar, there are two not so subtle, under-the-radar distractions sending global trading floors abuzz this morning. Specifically, the astonishing outperformance in both US equities and emerging markets.

US equities markets soared to their biggest gain in six months following strong earnings and uplifting reports on the economy.

The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers posted the most jobs in two decades in August as expectations around hiring continued to outpace while US industrial pace and the Federal Reserve said output by U.S. factories, mines and utilities climbed in September despite the effects of Hurricane Florence.

Equity investors took their cue from the industrial production report which indicated inflation isn’t picking up, triggering another Goldilocks economy rally. But whatever signal convinces investors the Fed will not move interest rates up quicker than expected will be latched on to the big time especially in the face of robust US data. 

But let’s take this move in context, sure +2 % gain on the S&P is astonishing in anyone’s book, but significant indexes are still broadly lower for the month following last week 2-day meltdown as investors fretted over a fast pace of Fed policy normalisation.

However, it is the best of both worlds for US equity markets, with the economy in full swing but nary a sign of inflation as Goldilocks returns for yet another day. Which is providing a much need diversion from trade tensions and concerns about global growth downtrend. Also, the dollar fell overnight as traders are contemplating the Greenback fate ahead of the US midterm elections.

Nothing like a robust US market and a  USD lacking any momentum to trigger the Asian market into action!

Oil Markets

The American Petroleum Institute figures for the week ended October 12 showed an unexpected 2.1 million barrels per day decline in US crude oil inventories even as stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for NYMEX WTI futures increased by another 1.5 million barrels per day. But the headline did catch momentum speculators wrong-footed who were expecting another build.

Prices were also bolstered by rising US stock market providing a welcome distraction from trade tensions and concerns about global growth as investors are back focusing on tighter global supply due to Iran sanctions. It’s widely expected that Iranian exports, which are already dropping, will fall quite sharply from November onwards, and even if Saudis and other OPEC bodies have compensated the anticipated shortfall to some degree there will undoubtedly be a near-term imbalance which will pressure prompt prices

On a side note regarding a slower global growth narrative or an adverse knock demand side effect from weaker the US emerging market currencies, there’s no definitive, quantifiable data to support this view, as global energy demand remains robust by any demand-side measure.

None the less Brent prices risk is skewed higher as Venezuela, other the Middle East concerns, North and West Africa remain hotspots for supply disruptions in coming months. And with traders all too aware that we are little more than one supply disruption away from a move above $ 85 Brent, prices remain very well supported on pullbacks after reaching four-year highs last week.

Gold Markets

Given the political firestorm igniting around the US Midterms, Italy, and US-Saudi tensions, gold’s upside is looking favourable as a tail hedge against these escalations. The mid-term elections in themselves will provide more than enough political fodder to keep the flames going, not to mention the possible equity market drawdowns from a shift of power in the “house” if a Blue wave takes control.
Gold did back off from intersession highs as US equity markets rallied convincingly, which was triggered by a more robust US Industrial production data. But with inflation absent from the report, it doesn’t shift the Fed dial. This view is significant for Gold prices as it suggests without an uptick in US Inflation for the USD to tether itself to in the run you to the US election, we could see the dollar sell-off as US political headline risk is expected to escalate and should lead to Gold outperformance.

But on a near-term break of the signification $ 1234-1236 zone and given the bearish Hedge Fund compositions and structures on the Comex will come under intense pressure and we could see $1250+ in a heartbeat if these established short positions show signs of buckling.

However, perhaps a hawkish warm-up ahead of tonight’s FOMC minutes San Francisco’s new President Daly said she does think it’s a balance between hiking too fast and getting behind the curve but her remarks on the economy are strong. On inflation, the Fed is “effectively at the 2.0% target.” For potential tailwinds, however, she does name three: financial conditions, global growth, and fiscal stimulus.

Currency markets

The Yuan

The CNH will be closely watched in Asia today after some shifting sentiments were observed in the NY market. But the latest China inflation prints were failing to highlight just how problematic higher prices are for Chinese consumers while only suggesting that producers are unable to pass on higher cost from the weaker Yuan and or tariffs impact.

The US Dollar

Traders will be watch USD housing starts intently, remembering that the housing industry has been the most disappointing segment of US data in 2018.

While the TIC data has taken on a secondary level of importance in recent years, one question mark China’s holding of US Treasuries fell for a third consecutive month in August. I don’t believe there is anything sinister in this trend other than the fact the Pboc could be building their USD war chest to intervene if the Yuan moves too quickly above 7? Or its little more than prudent reserve management policy with the markets expecting the USD to struggle in 2019

We are starting to see signs of a USD capitulation ahead of the US midterms as dollar bulls are becoming increasingly nose-ringed to the US midterms elections.

The Euro
Currency markets are cautiously busy with most of the focus on JPY and EUR in New York, but well-worn ranges held

Little has changed from last week view that was dominated by risk reduction of USD long positions. In the meantime, the EURUSD is struggling to break through a wall of offers between 1.1600 -25. None the less, when EURUSD eventually breaks it’s 1.1450 1.1750 range, it will be through the top of the range, but given the temperament and choppy nature of trading the EURUSD these days, it will require a great deal of patience.

The Japanese Yen
The USDJPY moved convincingly lower on last week US equity led meltdown. Traders are monitoring the scope of the latest US equity market recovery. But on another equity market wobble risks remain more significant to the downside for USDJPY as the midterm US elections near.

The British Pound
Sterling has been weighed down by virtually every conceivable negative Brexit headline, but there is no denying the latest employment report that is signalling ages are now growing faster than prices!! The Pound continues to grind higher even although a Bank of England rate hike is very much dependant on Brexit going through

The Malaysian Ringgit

With China trade headlines mostly absent, regional markets have been much calmer this week. But oil has been sending mixed signals but remains well bid on dips, which should be supportive of the Ringgit, But the focus will be on   the CNH today( see above)


The buck cannot find a bid

Tuesday October 16: Five things the markets are talking about

The ‘big’ dollar came under pressure yesterday and is finding it difficult to gain much traction this morning as investors taking profit on U.S assets outweighs concerns about Italy, Brexit and a Sino-U.S trade war. Furthermore, twin U.S deficits and prospects of a halt in Fed’s rate hike cycle are also weighing on the dollar.

Elsewhere, it has been mixed picture across regional stock markets overnight as investors await the next wave of corporate earnings and further developments across the aforementioned geopolitical issues.

Note: Any hint of a slowdown or stronger growth could affect the pace of Fed’s rate hikes.

Oil prices continue to fluctuate within striking distance of recent highs amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and the U.S over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist with U.S citizenship, while the precious ‘yellow’ metal holds its gains.

On tap: FOMC minutes are due Wednesday (02:00 pm EDT), with investors focused on projections for further interest rate rises.

1. Stocks mixed results

In Japan, the Nikkei rebounded overnight, supported by short covering in index heavyweights (automakers and SoftBank), but retailers came under pressure on worries about domestic personal consumption and slowing demand from China. The Nikkei share average closed +1.3% higher, after tumbling -1.8% yesterday. The broader Topix rallied +0.7%.

Down-under, Aussie shares rebounded overnight, as mining and financials bounced back from Monday’s -1% drop and six-month low, but rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and the West and weaker PPI data in China capped broader market gains. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose +0.6%. In S. Korea, the Kospi stock index closed flat on Tuesday as global uncertainties capped gains during the day.

In China, stocks ended lower overnight, after data showed factory-gate inflation had cooled for a third consecutive month in September amid lean domestic demand. The blue-chip CSI300 index ended -0.8% weaker, while the Shanghai Composite Index also closed -0.8% lower. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was up +0.1%.

Note: Chinese inflation was boosted by food while prices were mostly subdued elsewhere. China Sept CPI y/y came in as expected at +2.5% vs. +2.5%e (a seven-month high): PPI y/y was +3.6% vs. +3.5%e.

In Europe, regional bourses trade mostly higher across the board with the Italian FTSE MIB outperforming following the submission of its draft budget to the E.C, while the U.K’s FTSE underperforms on Brexit uncertainty.

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

Indices: Stoxx600 +0.4% at 361, FTSE -0.2% at 7012, DAX +0.2% at 11638, CAC-40 +0.1% at 5099, IBEX-35 +0.9% at 9004, FTSE MIB +1.1% at 19500, SMI +0.3% at 8678, S&P 500 Futures +0.3%

2. Oil dips on expectations of higher U.S stocks, gold unchanged

Oil prices have eased a tad amid expectations of an increase in U.S crude inventories, but signs of a fall in Iranian oil exports for October are limiting losses.

Brent crude for December delivery has fallen -6c, or -0.07%, to +$80.72 per barrel, while U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for November delivery is down -14c at +$71.64 a barrel.

U.S crude stockpiles are forecasted to have risen last week for the fourth consecutive week, by about +1.1M barrels, ahead of reports from the API (data is due at 4:30 pm today) and the U.S DoE’s EIA (will be released at 10:30 am EDT tomorrow).

In the first two weeks of October, Iran has exported +1.33M bpd of crude to countries including India, China and Turkey. That is down from +1.6M bpd during the same period in September.

Note: October exports are a sharp drop from the +2.5M bpd in April before President Trump withdrew from a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. In May Trump ordered the re-imposition of economic sanctions on the country. The sanctions will come into force on Nov. 4.

Also supporting prices is today’s comments from OPEC’s Secretary General Barkindo who said, “global spare oil capacity was shrinking,” adding “producers and companies should increase their production capacities and invest more to meet current demand.”

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices are holding steady near yesterday’s three-month high as a number of risk-averse investors seek refuge in the metal amid rising political tensions and economic uncertainty.

Spot gold was little changed at +$1,226.71 an ounce - it touched +$1,233.26 yesterday, its highest print since mid July, as global equities slid on rising tensions between the Saudi’s and the West. U.S gold futures are flat at +$1,230.40 an ounce.

3. German Bund yields edge higher

A cautious, risk-on mood currently prevails in eurozone sovereign bond markets so far this morning, with yields of German Bunds and of other core eurozone bonds up, and Italian bond yields down.

This would suggest that market risk sentiment may be improving following last week’s sudden correction, but the balance remains a tad precarious in the current political environment. German 10-year Bund yield has backed up +1.4 bps to +0.51%.

Note: The +0.50% level in Bund yields remains pivotal and with more debt product coming to market today (Germany offers +€4B in the September 2020-dated Schatz) should be able to back up sovereign yields a tad more.

Elsewhere, the yield on 10-year Treasuries has backed up +1 bps to +3.17%, the highest in a week. In the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield has decreased -1 bps to +1.603%, the lowest in almost two-weeks, while in Italy, the 10-year BTP yield has declined -2 bps to +3.522%.

4. G7 currency pairs are little changed

Major currencies (€, £, ¥ and C$) are relatively unchanged ahead of the U.S open.

Dealers and investors have little technical or fundamental data to work with at current levels. In fact, the market is looking for guidance, which may come in the shape of the U.S Treasury forex report, which is likely to be released this week and where the U.S could name China a currency manipulator.

If the U.S were to name China a currency manipulator it would further pressure China on trade and add to the Sino-U.S trade tensions.

EUR/USD is flat at €1.1579 and other major currency pairs are not moving by much either. GBP/USD is up slightly at £1.3163 as leaders struck a conciliatory tone a day after Brexit negotiations broke down and USD/JPY is up +0.3% at ¥112.07

Elsewhere, the performance of several petro-forex (NOK, CAD, RUB) has been held back due to various unique factors that have not translated into a growth boost for these currencies. The ruble has been driven by U.S sanctions, and the Canadian dollar has been held back by NAFTA re-negotiations.

TRY (-0.20% at $5.7865) has retreated after seven days of gains after the country released U.S pastor Andrew Brunson on Friday.

5. U.K wage growth fastest in a decade

U.K data this morning showed that wage growth quickened over the summer at the fastest pace in almost a decade, adding to signs of inflationary pressure.

The ONS said that average weekly earnings in Britain, ex-bonuses, grew +3.1% in the three-months through August.

The figures will likely reinforce market expectations that the BoE remains on course tighten monetary policy over the next 24-months to keep overall price-growth in check, assuming the U.K.’s exit from the E.U goes well.

Other data showed that U.K unemployment in the three-months through August was unchanged on the previous three-months at +4%, while the number of people in work, +32.4M, remained close to its record high.

Note: The BoE hiked interest rate in August and signalled that they expect to do so again two or more times over the next couple of years to bring inflation back to their +2% annual goal.

A weaker pound since the Brexit referendum has to push up the price of imports, squeezing U.K citizens’ purchasing power.

Forex heatmap

U.S retail sales increase less than expected in September

U.S. retail sales barely rose in September as a rebound in motor vehicle purchases was offset by the biggest drop in spending at restaurants and bars in nearly two years.

The Commerce Department said on Monday retail sales edged up 0.1 percent last month after a similar gain in August. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing 0.6 percent in September.

Retail sales in September rose 4.7 percent from a year ago.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales jumped 0.5 percent last month. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Data for August was revised down to show core retail sales were unchanged instead of the previously reported 0.1 percent gain. Consumer spending is being driven by a robust labor market, with the unemployment rate near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent. Tight labor market conditions are gradually pushing up wage growth.

The solid core retail sales increase in September pointed to strong consumer spending that should offset anticipated drags on economic growth from a widening trade deficit and persistent weakness in the housing market. Growth estimates for the third quarter are above a 3.0 percent annualized rate. The economy grew at a 4.2 percent pace in the second quarter.

Last month, auto sales surged 0.8 percent after declining 0.5 percent in August. Receipts at service stations fell 0.8 percent, likely reflecting a moderation in gasoline prices.

Sales at clothing stores rebounded 0.5 percent after tumbling 2.8 percent in August. Online and mail-order sales soared 1.1 percent in September after rising 0.5 percent in the prior month.

Receipts at furniture stores increased 1.1 percent. But Americans cut back on spending at restaurants and bars, with sales dropping 1.8 percent. That was the biggest decline since December 2016.

While the Commerce Department said it was impossible to determine the impact of Hurricane Florence on the data, disruptions caused by the storm could have hurt sales at restaurants and bars last month.

Sales at building material stores nudged up 0.1 percent in September. Spending at hobby, musical instrument and book stores increased 0.7 percent last month.


Geopolitical risks and yields dominate proceedings

Monday October 15: Five things the markets are talking about

Following a weekend of warnings on global economic fragility from G10 finance leaders at an IMF meeting in Bali, has global equities starting this new week on the back foot, with regional bourses in Asia and Europe seeing red, while U.S equity futures are pointing to deep declines.

Sovereign yields are lower in this cautious climate, while yen has pushed higher along with gold. Crude oil has advanced as tensions rise between the U.S and Saudi Arabia over a missing journalist.

Politics and data are never a good mix and this week is awash with both.

Italy is to submit its contentious budget to the E.C. Already; the proposed budget has potentially broken specific thresholds, which would require a lot of debating from both parties. Expect Italian BTP yields again to come under pressure, backing up towards the psychological +4%.

The E.U meets on Wednesday and will get an update on the status of negotiations with the U.K’s Brexit. Expect the Irish border to be the ‘hot topic du jour. If there is insufficient progress, the possibility of a special summit next month to finalize an agreement looks dead in the water. Dealers expect the pound to remain volatile in the short-term.

The U.S Treasury report about the international economy and the FX market is to be released Tuesday. To neutral observers, China does not meet the threshold of “manipulation.” However, Trumps interpretation may be very different.

On the data front, the U.S releases retail sales this morning (08:30 am EDT) and FOMC minutes on Wednesday.

Across the pond, the U.K presents its labour report tomorrow, (Oct 16) inflation Wednesday (Oct 17) and retail sales Thursday (Oct 18).

In Canada, Friday’s upcoming data includes retail sales, and CPI – neither of the reports are expected to dissuade the market of pricing in a +25 bps rate hike at next weeks Bank of Canada (BoC) monetary policy decision.

1. Equities see red

In Japan overnight, the Nikkei closed at a two month low as automakers and other manufacturers were hit by news that the Trump administration would seek a provision about currency manipulation in future trade deals. The Nikkei share average ended down -1.8%, the weakest closing point since mid-Aug, while the broader Topix dropped -1.6%, the lowest close in seven-months.

Down-under, the ASX 200 fell to a six-month low overnight, led by the banking sectors growing concerns about the hit to earnings from an inquiry into misconduct. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell -1%. In S. Korea, the Kospi stock index fell -0.77% as institutions cut their exposure to riskier assets. The country’s biggest automaker Hyundai Motor slipped -1.7%, marking its lowest trading level in eight-years.

In China and Hong Kong, stock markets again slipped overnight following last week’s deepest dive in eight-months, as investors await the latest twist in the Sino-U.S trade dispute. The Shanghai Composite index closed lower by -1.5%, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng closed -1.4% lower.

In Europe, regional bourses trade lower across the board, tracking U.S futures and Asian indices lower. The FTSE and sterling (£1.3140) trade a tad lower after the E.U and U.K paused Brexit talks until after this week’s mini-summit.

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

Indices: Stoxx600 -0.6% at 356.8, FTSE -0.3% at 6976, DAX -0.4% at 11474, CAC-40 -0.6% at 5066, IBEX-35 -0.3% at 8876, FTSE MIB -0.2% at 19225, SMI % at -0.8%, S&P 500 Futures -0.8%

2. Oil prices rise on Saudi tensions, gold higher

Oil prices remain bid this Monday morning as tension over the disappearance of a Washington post journalist and Saudi critic, Jamal Khashoggi, fuelled supply worries, although concerns over the long-term demand outlook dragged on sentiment.

Brent crude oil jumped +$1.49 a barrel to a high of +$81.92 before easing to +$81.13, up +70c. U.S crude (WTI) was last up +40c at +$71.74.

Saudi Arabia has been under pressure since Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

President Trump has threatened “severe punishment” if it is found that the journalist was killed in the consulate.

On Sunday, the Saudi’s said it would retaliate to any action taken against them over the Khashoggi case. The market is tentatively concerned that the Saudis may use oil as a tool for retaliation.

Despite prices starting the week better bid, there are still lower that last week’s high print.

Also limiting price gains is a report from the IEF last Friday stating that the market looked “adequately supplied for now” and cut its forecasts for world oil demand growth this year and next.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have jumped +1% to hit a three-month high as global stocks resumed their fall and investors wrestled with the impact of the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade war and higher U.S interest rates. Spot gold is up +0.9% at +$1,228.24 an ounce, while U.S gold futures are up +0.8% at +$1,231.80 an ounce.

3. Italian and Portugal yields fall

Portuguese and Italian government bond yields have fallen this morning, with prices outperforming euro zone peers after ratings agency Moody’s upgraded Portugal’s credit rating back to investment grade.

Portugal’s 10-year bond yield fell -4 bps to +2.01% after Moody’s lifted its credit rating to Baa3 on Friday.

The positive periphery sentiment from Portugal has spilled over into Italy’s battered bond market. Italian 10-year BTP yields are down -4.5 bps to +3.53%.

Note: Expect Italian yields to trade rather volatile this week as Italy presents its budget to the E.C.

Elsewhere, the yield on U.S 10’s fell -1 bps to +3.15%. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has dipped -1 bps to +0.49%, the lowest in more than a week. In the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield has eased -2 bps to +1.614%, the lowest in more than a week.

4. Dollar’s safe haven flows ease

Risk aversion flows initially provided a bid for the traditional safe-haven currencies of JPY (¥111.75) and ‘big’ USD, however, market sentiment has eased a tad ahead of the U.S open.

GBP (£1.3147) opened below the psychological £1.31 handle on concerns that a Brexit agreement might be slipping away after the U.K and E.U negotiators were said to have called ‘a pause’ in their Brexit talks and would now wait for the outcome of a summit mid-week (Wed) before any resumption.

TRY ($5.8208) is firmer by over +1% outright for its seventh session gain on optimism that relations between Turkey and U.S would improve following the release of U.S Pastor Brunson.

Bitcoin prices have spiked +6.5% this morning, jumping above +$6,600. While the catalyst behind the move higher is not clear and with few ready to label bitcoin a “true store of value” in turbulent times, BTC has held up better than most of late.

5. Embarrassing losses in Bavarian election shake Merkel’s coalition

Germany’s grand coalition could become even further unstable after coalition members suffered humiliating results in an election in the southern state of Bavaria.

Chancellor Merkel’s Bavarian allies slumped to their worst election results in almost 70 years and her junior coalition partners, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), saw support in Bavaria halved.

The SPD had hoped that infighting over immigration between Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CDU) allies would give them a boost in Bavaria.

But instead, the party saw support fall to just under +10%, prompting a discussion over the sustainability of its alliance with Merkel’s conservatives at the national level.

Note: SPD members are still bitter over their leaders’ decision to join a Merkel-led government.

Merkel’s authority may be called into question as soon as in two-weeks in an election in the western state of Hesse - the state is ruled by Merkel’s CDU in a coalition with the Greens, but polls suggest she is losing further support.

Forex heatmap

Rethinking it

Rethinking it

Risk sentiment stabilised primarily on the back of reports that the Treasury Department will NOT recommend China be labelled a currency manipulator along with headlines that Trump and Xi will meet on trade seems to be enough reason for the equity sell-off to cool. But indeed never has so much been riding on the contributions of so few. 

Once again market sentiment is being driven by rhetoric from US administration and Trump himself who has been quick to point fingers at just about anyone and everyone. Whether its the Fed has gone crazy, OPEC is causing an oil spike, China at fault for trade tension and declaring his policies are hurting China.  But from my chair, the message is loud and clear,  all designed to stir his support base into a frenzy ahead of the November midterms.

It ain’t over till it’s over

Initially, the market was interpreting higher US rates as a signal to deleverage given that most of the economic expansion was assisted by QE, both in the US and globally. So draining the punch bowl and tightening rates were weighing on sentiment. Ok, we get that! But gradually moving interest rates higher in themselves are not necessarily a bad thing for markets especially coming off historically low rates. Most market participants have never traded a rate hike cycle, and for some of the dinosaurs, it appears they have forgotten what rate hike cycle is. When in fact it’s the moment the Feds shift toward a dovish defensive stance after a period of tightening is the time to worry! Presumably, the Federal Reserve Board tightens when the economy is on hot, and the eases when it’s not.

Maybe and just maybe investors are waking up to the fact that much of this market frothiness is a result of financial engineering aided by the intravenous drip of seemingly endless supplies of cheap money. The result could very end up being a stock market built on a leveraged House of Cards which is about to topple after the US tax cuts have run there course. Indeed, credulousness may be giving way to the facts on the ground.

The possible Fed implication

If the equity markets continue to fall into December, the Fed will most certainly consider pausing raising interest rates. You can imagine what type of signal that will suggest to investors who in the face of soaring equity valuations, escalating global trade tensions and divergence in the whole growth narrative especially now that their fingers are glued to the sell button after last weeks carnage. And while the bar is exceedingly high for the Fed to pause in December, it’s not as high this morning as it was a week ago!

Oil Markets

WTI prices have shot higher at the NYMEX futures open after Saudi Arabia warned Sunday it would respond to any “threats” against it as its stock market plunged following President Donald Trump’s warning of “severe punishment” over the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Given that oil supply is Saudia Arabia ‘s” ace in the hole” The Kingdom has motioned it could use oil supply as leverage against any sanctions.  Another geopolitical hotspot for the US administration to navigate but this one extremely testy given that President Trump has been pressuring Saudi to up supply to counter the US-led Iran oil sanction

Despite oil prices making a fast retreat last week and e global growth downgrades at this week IMF in Bali.  The spare production capacity argument should continue to support oil over the short term. The IEA pegged spare capacity at around 2 million barrels per day. But the markets know these reserves have never been tested raising the questing how much spare capacity can be brought online immediately But in the meantime until additional supplies are made available, that crimp in supply should be enough to support OIl prices until proven otherwise.

Oil Bears came out of hibernation last week even despite falls in Libya’s crude output. But price actions were driven primarily by an Oct. 8 report from the IMF, in which it downgraded global economic growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019 to 3.7 per cent per annum, from 3.9 per cent, which would consequently lower oil demand. Then pandemonium was unleashed across global markets as the worldwide stock markets tanked triggering an exit from riskier assets.  And while the  S &P stabilised well and continued to roll with the punches, but Oil markets were so eager to snap back. Oil prices initially struggled to follow the equity market lead, after the International Energy Agency monthly Market Report adjusted demand lower by 110,000 bpd for both 2018 and 2019, reported an increase of 100,000 bpd in September OPEC production while pointing out OECD data suggest oil stocks are at the highest level since February. While advising the markets are adequate supplies which again highlights uncertainty of supply once the US sanctions on Iran take effect. Lordy Lordy, it’s a noise market

Despite managing to eek out a win on the day, Brent was lagging WTI on Friday highlighting the lack of fundamental deficit in the oil market, with the International Energy Agency monthly Oil Market Report demand lower and terming supplies “adequate for now”.And  WTI could still be drawing support from Hurricane Micheal induced outages.

Drillers added eight oil rigs in the week to Oct. 12  according to Baker Hughes. Mainly attributed to the November 1 Plains All American Pipeline Project which is set to start flowing on Nov 1 and should ease pipeline bottlenecks that have lower crude prices in the Permian Basin. The Sunrise Pipeline has a reported capacity of about 500,000 barrels per day.

Oil COT report 

The Commitment of Traders data, HEDGE FUND net position changes in the week to Oct 9:
Brent -6mn
WTI -37mn

Gold Markets

The precious complex is trading of the intersession highs as one would expect after the larges jump in years. In reflection, the move was a combination of a haven and full short covering. But this would leave the current landscape extremely shaky if both stocks and US rates markets recovered significantly in the days ahead. But with geopolitical noise ratcheting higher in Saudi Arabia

Currency Markets 

Given all these tectonic shift in market sentiment, currency markets have this air of unpredictability about them, not more so then the EURO as its completely unclear if Friday’s move was confirmation of the downtrend or nothing more than weekend position squaring. Talking to my circle of G-10 traders this morning I get the feeling that more are coming to a conclusion ahead of the US midterms and wobble equity markets, the USD is there for the taking. After the market’s reaction to Nikki Halley resignation when the USD sold off, its probably a sign of things to come as the pendulum swings between the GOP keeping or losing control of Congress

Japanese  Yen

Kuroda and company have been floating trial balloons the IMF conference in an attempt to gauge market sentiment and prepare currency traders for the inevitable rate hike. The BoJ   desperately wants to help Japan’s  banking sector and improve the monetary transmission mechanism channels to allow the banks to raise the cost of borrowing, after a decade of struggling

The Malaysian Ringgit 

Traders are awaiting US Treasury Department’s currency report on Monday/ Tuesday, where it rumored they won’t classify China as a currency manipulator which could avert an EM Asia currency meltdown and would forestall an escalation of the U.S.-China trade war. Oil prices look supportive in early trade but the overhang from fiscal concerns around the upcoming budget should temper any strengthening in the local note.

The IMF Bash in Bali

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde doubled down on the messaging.

“Our message was very clear: de-escalate the tensions,” she told Bloomberg Television in an interview, about US-China tensions. But with no hints of a resolution or fixed purpose for that matter, the parties are no closer than they were before the soiree.