When central banks and the political worlds collide

When central banks and the political worlds collide

Global risk assets should remain under duress due to an ongoing potent mix of emerging markets spillover amidst concerns that President Trump moves forward this week with the next round of tariffs directed at China.

Despite the weakest links in the emerging markets currency chain, ARS and TRY, recovering lost ground on Friday, they remained deeply underwater from the same time last week. And don’t be fooled by Friday close as the developments in LATAM and CEEMEA has a host of EM currencies, including many in Asia stuck on that slippery slope.

Given the Labour Day holiday weekend effect, position squaring and profit-taking played a significant roll in Friday’s price action as traders moved into risk reduction mode while positioning the US dollar as go-to primary haven currency hedge.

With US Equities and fixed income markets closed for Labour day, expect quiet markets to start the week.

But this US holiday effect is little more than the calm before the storm and indeed belies the impending groundswell. Batten down the hatches as the main feature that stands out about this week, and the month of September for that matter, is the market risk is massive as the central bank, and the political worlds collide. Indeed, such collisions tend to escalate volatility exponentially, and I expect some episodic moments that will have traders looking for the exits or end up over the barrel.

There’s an intense focus on trade war this week with the US and Canada back at the NAFTA table on Wednesday. But its Friday’s USTR decision on the new USD200billionn Section 301 Chinese imports that is uppermost for risk markets. But in the meantime, traders will continue to second-guess one another on whether the tariffs go through or an extension offered.

My best guess

The other developing political intrigue that should be on everyone’s radar is the President will have to spend a considerable amount of political clout whipping the Republican Party into shape for the midterm election run. Given the potential electoral fallout from Cohen, Manafort and Mueller developments., surely Trump wants to get trade issues behind him. Let’s face it, a tariff amounts to little more than a tax and will be viewed as hugely unpopular by the Republican base. Hence the reason why I think we get an extension on the 200 billion Section 301 Chinese imports, but a US-China trade deal at some point in September. Its a matter of how much pain one wants to absorb in the meantime waiting for that view to solidifying.

Oil Markets

Indeed, the Labour Day holiday weekend effect dampened oil markets on Friday as book squaring and profit-taking saw West Texas Intermediate crude oil shaving it gains for the week.

Similarly, Brent Crude traded in a consolidated manner but remains confidently supported by the notion that US sanctions on Iranian crude oil exports will eventually lead to constricted markets and higher prices in the months ahead.

And while the analysts continue fretting that 200 billion in tariffs could drag down oil demand, it isn’t at all clear that such type of economic headwinds will topple oil prices given supply constraints amidst the constant barrage of supply outages.

Some interesting price dynamics last month none the less as after going through very step correction through early to mid-August when Trump announced a possible 25 % tariff on 200 billion worth of trade, oil markets have convincingly rallied since as Iran sanctions, and surprising US inventory draws have provided a solid foundation of support.

Shanghai Oil futures are weighing on Western Benchmark volumes

Gold Markets

Eventually gold will move higher, but it will need some enticement from a weaker US dollar or haven appeal that might be in the offing as the Trump administration prepares the Republican Party for midterm elections against the possible fallout from Cohen, Manafort and Mueller developments.

As for the short-term prospects, despite Gold showing Moxy around the $1200 level of late, but with the US dollar looking strong short positions are not about to lose the plot anytime soon.

Upticks in price continue to be faded suggesting the bears are entirely in control as such, the discussion among long-term buy and hold position traders suggests they are just as content to wait for lower prices as they are to buy aggressively on a technical break of $1225.

Chinese Equity Markets

Chinese equity markets have yo-yo over the past week, first buffeted by fleeting optimism following the Mexico NAFTA deal. But that optimism gave way to the reality of 200 billion more in tariffs. With tariffs looming, we should expect mainland markets to the trade of their back foot given  Friday’s futures closing levels on as we start this week however they’re likely to be on the back foot again as indicated by the latest closes.

Summer is over so, what about the MSCI Asia ?? Read what local experts are saying .

Currency Markets 

A very theatrical way to end the month of August with the USD dollar rallying hard X Japan, as Traders opted for a keep it simple hedge strategy. But I continue to focus on the Commonwealth group of currencies, unfortunately for AUD and CAD, for all the wrong reasons. But with a good chance, NAFTA II gets ratified this week the long CADAUD and the short USDCAD should look attractive from that perspective.

Canadian Dollar 

With much of the September rate hike probabilities reduced after the slightly lower than expected GDP print last week, the market will be focused Governor Poloz forward guidance where the market is fully expecting him to lay the groundwork for an October hike. So, this brings us back to the nasty business of trade. For those of us lucky enough to sell some $CAD on the ‘ Mexico-only deal to replace NAFTA headline” when the Lonnie weakened to near 1.3100, where happy to hear US-Canada talks will resume Wednesday.   Trading around this optimism will be a considerable focus early this week. Indeed, the order books are lining up, and with Freeland suggesting the negotiations are moving forward in good faith, a bit of ” love is in the air” was directed toward the Loonie into Friday’s close

When it comes to currency trading after 20+ years in the fray, I’ve concluded its better to be lucky than good.!

Australian Dollar 

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

But the market does have a knack for bird-dogging Aussie oversold positions which always reminds me to book profits after an outsized move. But provided market participation remain intact with the thunder down under signalling more trouble to come, it may be time to revise my year-end target from .69 to .67 more so on any hint of housing market troubles.

Emerging Market Currencies Asia 

Over the weekend the White House announced a major Presidential Snub that is raising a few local eyebrows. Vice President Pence and not President Trump will we attend two major Asia summits in November. I wouldn’t read too much into this as by now we should be used the fact the President marches to the beat of his drum.

Let us focus on what counts, this week we will see PMI data from some Asian countries.

The Malaysia Ringgit 

Not only will it be a be a hectic week on the data front, but local traders also try to navigate the impact of a stronger USD, seeping EM contagion and a possible nasty escalation in US-China trade tension.

But on the home front, there is a deluge of economic data which will keep trader hopping. (Nikkei PMI for August (September 3, 01:30); Trade balance for July (September 5, 05:00); BNM rate decision (September 5, 08:00); Foreign reserves (September 6, 08:00); Industrial production for July (September 7, 05:00); CPI for August (September 19, 05:00)

While my focus will be on external factors, the BNN rate decisions on September 5 does offer some intrigue in the wake of a subpar 2nd Q GDP and tepid inflation reports.  Both bond and currency markets are positioning for a slight dovish lean from Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus.

As for the key external risk, the Ringgit should be less susceptible to external risk than regional peers due to rising oil prices

The Korean Won

Already in contraction territory as far as PMI go, it will be interesting to see the market reaction to export number released over the weekend.  While recording a second straight month of gains amid escalating trade tension between China and the United States, the print was well below expectation that was running above 10%., which shouldn’t provide a great kick-start to the week for the Kospi nor the Won.

Indian Rupee

Despite the blistering 8.2 % GDP prints what ultimately matter for currency traders is the trade balance, and that is a significant point of contention. In a robust USD environment versus EM currencies coupled with higher oil prices, there is little appetite to buy the Rupee outside of sheer necessity,

Indonesian Rupiah

The Trade deficit and reliance on Oil Imports are just pummeling the Rupiah. With critical technical support levels taking out and traders now eying USDIDR 15,000 level capital outflow could intensify.

 Please join me

BBC TV Asia @ 6:30 AM SGT I’m discussing the EM market spillover and how it will play out in Asia with focus on IDR and INR.

BFM Radio Kuala Lumpur BFM Radio KL  @ 7:30 AM SGT  Im back  on my regular bi-monthly Market Watch show discussing the week ahead with this weeks focus on Trade War thMalaysianan Ringgit  outlook

MoneyFM MoneyFM  @2:30 PM  SGT   I’m talking about the state of the financial market in general from a trading perspective

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

Stephen Innes

Stephen Innes

Head of Trading APAC at OANDA
Stephen has over 25 years of experience in the financial markets and currently based in Singapore as the Head of Trading Asia Pacific with OANDA. Stephen's market views focus on the movement of G-10 and ASEAN Currencies. His views appear in Bloomberg, CNBC.Reuters, New York Times WSJ and the Economist. His media appearances include Bloomberg TV & Radio, BBC International, Sky TV, Channel News Asia, ASTRO AWANI and BFM Malaysia. Stephen has an extensive trading experience in Spot and Forward FX, Currency and Interest Rate Futures, Money Market Derivatives and Precious Metals. Before joining OANDA, he worked with organisations like Nat West, Chemical Bank, Garvin Guy Butler, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Stephen was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and holds a Degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.
Stephen Innes