US stocks are all over the place as investors grapple with growth concerns, an impending Jackson Hole setup to Fed tapering, China’s largest ‘bad bank’ gets a bailout, and lingering virus jitters. Regardless of Fed tapering timing, growth is only getting pushed further out, but given the excessive froth in the market, a pullback seems warranted. Even if the Fed signals next week that a formal taper announcement will be done in September, the economy will still be supported by low interest rates, at least 8 months of a gradual tapering, and more fiscal support from the Biden administration. Investors should not expect a similar 2013 taper tantrum, but a modest stock market pullback that will likely be bought into.
The S&P 500 index saw buyers emerge early but that did not last long. Wall Street just can’t get beyond COVID jitters. Today, two fully vaccinated senators tested positive for COVID and Apple closed a store after more than 20 employees were exposed to COVID. The Nasdaq attempted to hold onto small gains as investors turned defensive and bought technology and consumer staple stocks.
US dollar rally continues
And just like that, with a splash of growth concerns, the dollar is king again. It took a massive downgrade with Goldman Sachs’s third-quarter forecast for the US economy to remind investors that everyone on Wall Street was too optimistic about the second half of the year. Goldman slashed its US Q3 GDP forecast from 9% to 5.5% and bumped up Q4 from 5.5% to 6.5%.
EUR/USD is now below the 1.17 level and is quickly approaching massive support around the 1.16 level. If financial markets enter panic mode, 1.16 could break and then it could get ugly fast. For now, currency traders may see a modest consolidation ahead of the Jackson Hole Symposium.
Bitcoin is holding up nicely despite a broad selloff with risky assets as fear grows the Fed will soon be removing stimulus. It seems a mini-taper tantrum from the Fed will not trigger widespread panic selling of cryptocurrencies, but perhaps this will prevent Bitcoin from rallying above the USD 50,000 level.
Crypto crackdowns continue and are no longer damaging sentiment but rather helping the argument that the space is getting cleaned up. Earlier in Asia, the PBOC unveiled a fresh crackdown in Shenzhen that targeted several crypto-linked firms. Bitcoin ‘mixer’ Larry Harmon also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
Bitcoin seems poised to continue consolidating between the USD 45,000 and USD 48,000 in the short-term, with the USD 50,000 level remaining a key price barrier.
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