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The sky hasn’t fallen just yet

Trade War Escalates, but the sky hasn’t fallen just yet as optimism crept back into the market on reports of fresh bilateral trade negotiations between China and the US coupled with a slightly firmer RMB scrim. “Where there is a will, there is a way”. But when it comes to backroom negotiations, one can only imagine that talk is not going to come cheap.

The broader market continues to remain in wait and see mode for further details on how China might retaliate on trade, while equity markets continue to press higher under the guise that “no escalating news is good news”. Indeed equity markets continued to retrace the sharp mid-week sell-off. But again, the US technology sector comes shining through as US internet and technology stalwarts are leading markets to a solid finish in Thursday’s New York session.

While investors could be breathing a sigh of relief, they’re probably just happy their investment portfolios are breathing and alive and kicking after the latest trade war episode. But even the most pessimistic investors must take note of just how enduringly bullish these markets are, after having everything thrown at them including the kitchen sink (Trade, Italy Germany, Long Bond Rates). It’s incredible what global bourses have withstood all this harmful noise and continue to march higher. But indeed, the solid foundation of a bull market is that it ignores the bad news and keep on grinding higher. And one can only imagine what levels the S&P would be trading if trade war fizzled out.

Equities shrug off trade tariff tensions

Speaking of bull markets, USDJPY continues to grind higher and perhaps a bit of the above is starting to factor in (i.e. ignore the bad news and keeps moving higher). The break above 111.75 was one of the most unambiguous signals in some time, and a move into the 113’s could trigger an unwind in longer-term structural risk-off (long JPY) positions which could see this current rally extend much higher.

There was little movement on Powell interview on Marketplace but here are the full transcripts.

Chairperson Powell’s Marketplace interview

And the NATO summit ended on a more cheerful note, with President Trump reaffirming his commitment to the alliance while focusing more closely on the financial obligations of the other countries. So, the market is happy to hear the NATO band marching on.

Oil market

The oil markets are trying to make some inroads after Wednesday’s spill, but are having trouble holding both tops and momentum. I think this is a one-part trade war and one-part supply coming back online. But Wednesday was one of those steep selloffs on record volumes that will give even the bravest of bull’s cause /pause for thought about holding long positions, especially into the weekend. On the supply front, the latest news from Libya is short-term bearish with the El Feel or Elephant field restarting for the first time since February, and there is some discussion suggesting the supply rebound could increase and more than offset the impacts from the Eastern port closures.

Gold market

The precious space continues to hold critical support at $1,240, but the Gold complex is still hovering in the mixed territory zone. The global equity market is bouncing higher overnight, and there are very few defensive allocations into Gold. However, with Fed Chair Powell not ringing any alarm bells for more aggressive fed tightening, gold picked up a bit of goodwill. But ultimately, the USD looks to be on solid footing while preparing to take the driver seat once again, especially on USDJPY, which should hold the gold bulls at bay.

Currency Markets

The USD is looking to get back in in the driving seat once again.

JPY: 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 where spot will trade if an intense wave of risk on kicks in or trade war fizzles out.

CNH: The Yuan remains at the centre of all the action, but with further signs of policy easing on the cards given the economic slowdown has been much deeper rooted than feared, markets will continue to buy dips until a definitively positive shift in trade war sentiment.

USDAsia
Strong demand on the platform for long USDAsia is consistent with the general market views.

Trade war escalation is a definite plus for the dollar and coupled with robust US economic data; it does support this view.

MYR: Despite some optimism creeping back in on reports of bilateral trade negotiations between China and the US, while most of $Asia pulled back from yesterday morning highs, the Ringgit continued to lag the moves.

The Ringgit continues to suffer from political risk and fiscal uncertainty. If the USD does start to reassert itself and coupled with short-term bearish signals on oil prices,  the USDMYR will likely slice through the 4.05 level like a hot knife through butter in this environment.

INR The Ruppe hit and all-time interday  low and has now plummeted over 7.6 % versus the USD will wiping out a significant portion of carry-trades in its wake. But the Rupee will continue to trade at the mercy of oil prices

KRW.After testing 1130.00, the dissenting policy vote injected some life into the Won and coupled with the firmer RMB backdrop saw the USDKRW fall below the 1124 level. The won will be the go-to trade on the escalation of trade war tensions, but in the meantime, the RMB complex will continue to dictate the pace of play

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