Numerous crosscurrents in play
On Friday the Dow and S&P opened and closed again at fresh highs on massive volumes due to options expirations, and while headlines over the weekend suggested that trade talks between both US and China will be shelved until after the US midterm elections, markets will not view this in too much of a negative light. It’s not so unexpected, and frankly, the US administration would be just as happy to keep trade wars out of the headlines ahead of the politically charge midterms where the Whitehouse will need to expend much political energy righting their political ship. But more importantly, the markets were viewing the November G-20 summit as a critical focal point where it’s expected both Ji and Trump will take to the sidelines with the intentions agreeing on a roadmap to settle this trade dispute. Not to mention, backchannels will most likely be open. But make no mistake, this will be a bumpy ride and don’t underestimate the possibility of the US announcing reviews of further China tariffs at some point in time given the Trump administration “modus operandi” of applying non-stop pressure.
Regardless, the astounding closing price action in equities last week, particularly the Shanghai composite and the US Indices suggest the markets are incredibly confident on a US-China trade deal by year-end, more Chinese stimulus to come, and hopefully a stable Yuan.
On the no less political contentious NAFTA 2 trade talks. Canada is expected to join a NAFTA 2.0 agreement. But the Quebec election falls on Oct 1, and with the Provincial Liberals pulling ahead in the polls every so slightly, it’s debatable how much of a rush the Federal Liberals will be to ink a deal before month end. Especially given the political fallout from any concessions around the dairy industry, as the bulk of Canada’s Milk industry is based in Quebec.
Traders will continue to monitor Chinese equities, DXY and copper.
Copper is fantastic leading indicators of risk and the economic cycle. Shanghai copper rose smartly on Friday bolstered by China’s fiscal efforts to bump up demand.
The US 10 yields finished the week above 3.05 % and could be setting the stage for a push higher. Rate differentials are still very much in favour of the USD story. But unlike when US yields rocketed higher in May, the UK and Canadian yields are breaking higher, while Japan is staying the top end of YCCC But more significantly Bunds are trading in the 50 bp region so there’s a bit more yield competition for the dollar to contend.
The US dollar
Speaking of which, the USD could trade defensively ahead of this weeks FOMC as USD Bulls erring on the side of caution. With 2 US rates hikes priced into the balance 2018 and in the absence of inflation, it’s almost impossible for the Feds to bump up the 2019 curve. So, the markets will end up focusing on shifts in the longball forecast into 2020 which is not the best or brightest of signals for currency traders who tend to view markets in much nearer time horizons. Even if the Feds prod 2020 curve higher, its unclear how much of a USD fillip that shift could deliver given that Chair Jay Powell has contiued to de-emphasise 2020 dots. Unless we get an unexpected shift in the Feds terminal policy range of 2.75-3.00%, not sure the dollar ( X -JPY) goes anywhere but trades within well-worn ranges.
Last week oil prices were trading buoyantly on reports Saudis are more than happy with a Brent price above $80 or that OPEC, more generally, is not considering raising output. That was until President Trump castigated OPEC ahead of this weekends Algiers meeting.
However, Saudi Arabia and Russia ruled out any expeditious supply increases at the Algeria meeting while decidedly ignoring U.S. President Trump’s call to increase supplies and easing price pressures. Not wholly unexpected mind you as the markets have been leaning toward December 3 OPEC summit for more formal decisions
WTI is trading the weekend news very favourably, up over 1 % at the NYMEX open and additionally spirited on by reports of inventories at the Cushing Oklahoma delivery point may have declined further in the week ended September 21.
But bullish sentiment could be tempered somewhat by several reports suggest ing OPEC producers generally agree that oil prices above Brent $80 a barrel would be too high. Which plays into the long-held market axiom that OPEC is looking to stabilise prices within the $70-80 $ sweet spot
With risk sentiment soaring there has been very little demand for Gold and when you factor in the fact that Gold traditionally trades poorly ahead of anticipated Fed hike, the USD will have up ground to entice buyer back to the market.
The Yen continues to consolidate but with the BoJ continuing to float the idea of shiting policy for no other reason than to support the beleaguered banking sector after years of 0 % interest rates. These trial balloons could contiued to weight on the top side despite USDJPY getting massive support from the favourable interest rate differentials.
I still think Italy risk is way underpriced and the Eurozone economic recovery is so uneven that the EURUSD could move lower given the US robust US economic story.
Hard to envision anything other the current account ( ca)deficit currencies remain vulnerable while ca surplus countries will contiued fare well.
The Chinese Yuan
China will move towards current account deficit and with interest rates likely to move lower to stimulate the economy the RMB will either trade weaker or remain stable at the at the CNY weakest levels of the current range.
The Malaysian Ringgit
The song remains the same. Positive updraft from global risk sentiment coupled with rising oil prices. But offset by increasing global yields, especially those in the US which lessens the appeal for local bonds.
The Rupee and Rupiah
As for the regional whipping boys IDR and INR, this a very complicated landscape and surging oil prices will continue to be an outsized problem for both currencies, And despite pledges to fix deficits, there has been no proof in that pudding. Instead, BI and RBI are coming up with creative yet very patchy methods of different interventions like the mandatory conversion for export proceeds in Indonesia, for example, or taking oil demand off the market in India.
Which brings us full circle, to this weeks FOMC, where it’s expected both BI and RBI will raise interest rates to match next week Fed hike. So, their ongoing currency struggles will continue to make headlines. However, without addressing the real underlying problems around deficits, hiking interest rates to prop up currency is like putting a band-aid on a broken leg as speculators will continue to target deficit currencies at every opportunity.
Friday Rupee sell-off was directly related to the impact of the RBI raising interest rates which have reportedly caused a massive corporate default for a shadow lender in the housing sector and triggered a significant sell-off in local equity markets.
Ultimately the consumer pays the piper in any rate hike scenario.