Ball back in Trump’s court as China responds with counter-tariffs
Markets are taking new tariffs between the US and China in their stride again on Wednesday, with stocks in Europe and futures in the US looking quite flat ahead of the open on Wall Street.
The latest tit-for-tat between Washington and Beijing has been on the cards for some time and while investors would have preferred to avoid the need for them, they were prepared and it was well priced in. In fact, the US tariffs were probably towards the lower end of expectations so the announcement didn’t really carry the same shock factor that previous announcements or reports have.
What may have a greater impact is Donald Trump following through quickly on phase three, as he has indicated he would which would dramatically ramp up the intensity and pace of the trade war between the two countries and could lead to more undesirable outcomes. There is clearly a good reason why the Trump administration has chosen not to include certain products – specifically those it stripped out after the consultation period – and opted initially for 10% rather than 25% and I think this may stop him acting in the rash manner he indicated he would.
UK inflation spikes in August sending sterling higher
Over in the UK, attention has switched briefly away from politics – or more specifically Brexit – and onto the data after CPI numbers for August showed prices rising by 2.7%, a significant beat on expectations. The release triggered quite a strong response in the pound, rallying above 1.32 against the dollar for the first time in almost two months before settling up around a quarter of a percent on the day.
I don’t personally think this changes much from an interest rates perspective, especially in the near-term with the Bank of England having only recently raised interest rates to post-financial crisis highs and shown a willingness to proceed with caution over the coming years. We’re also heading into a crucial period for Brexit talks and I think policy makers will want to withdraw from the spotlight during that time and then reassess the situation once the terms of the divorce are clearer.
GBP to remain sensitive to Brexit ahead of Salzburg summit
The increase itself may also be temporary and reflect firms taking advantage of a great summer and enthusiastic consumer, something that may take its toll in the months ahead. I don’t expect the BoE to react too much to this summer spike and instead take a more conservative view unless we see further evidence of it becoming a longer-term trend.
GBPUSD Daily Chart
Sterling is going to remain sensitive to Brexit reports in the coming months and tomorrow’s meeting in Salzburg will be the next hurdle. Traders will be paying very close attention to any comments coming from the summit and will be looking for any hints that significant progress is being made towards a deal that will avoid a disastrous no deal Brexit. Traders are clearly becoming more optimistic but that’s coming from a low base, with a lot of pessimism having been priced in since April.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.