It’s good to talk

You know it’s a quiet week when the weekly US Initial Jobless Claims spurs Fed tapering fears and leads to a stock market sell-off. That’s pretty much what happened, though. This was despite a strong US 30-year bond auction sending yields lower and the US dollar falling. All-in-all it sums up what I had telegraphed earlier in the week, a lack of tier-1 data points would lead to a choppy market dominated by intra-sentiment.

Perhaps the only theme I can glean from this week is that despite the nightmare Non-Farm’s last Friday, high-frequency surveys and the JOLTS Job Openings data suggest there are a vast number of jobs in America, the problem is getting Americans to take them. Thus, the headline Non-Farms may not be telling the whole story, and the Fed taper could still be on at year’s end.

However, sentiment has abruptly reversed in Asia today as news that President Biden and President Xi had had their first phone call in seven months. China state television is also running a story saying that President Xi wants better trading relationships with ASEAN countries. China has also sent an olive branch letter to Australia’s \government, asking them to support China’s application to join the CPTPP, the old Trans-Pacific Partnership.

All of that is music to the ears of the Asia-Pacific, improved trade with the region, tick. Potentially thawing relations with Australia; tick. President Biden and President Xi talking in person as the first step to warming relations between the two superpowers; tick, tick, tick, tick, my pen has run out of ink. Unsurprisingly, Asian equities are following the China charm offensive and heading north. It certainly has more substance than using the weekly Initial Jobless Claims to justify a mini taper-tantrum.

ECB reduces PEPP bond-buying

Last night’s ECB policy meeting was a bit of a non-event. The ECB didn’t taper (ask Christine Lagarde), but they decided to reduce the front-loaded pace of PEPP bond-buying and extend it over a longer period into the programme’s termination around March 2022. What they didn’t say was by how much they would reduce their bond-buying to. Still, it left the hawks and the doves with their dignity intact, and its impact on markets was minimal to non-existent.

Later today, German Inflation and US PPI might spark some intra-day volatility. However, today’s Asian calendar is more threadbare than my tee-shirt today (none of Mrs Halley’s online shopping lands on this pauper’s back), leaving markets in Asia to bask in the warm afterglow of hope that is improving US/China, ASEAN/China and Australia/China relations. As good a reason to fill ‘yah boots on the global recovery trade as any. Happy Friday.


I must apologise for not commenting earlier on bitcoin’s volatility this week, as readers know it is important to me. Unfortunately, I was watching some paint dry and didn’t have the bandwidth to do so.

Bitcoin has plummeted from near USD 53,000.00 of fiat tax-payer revenue backed fiat currency to USD 46.670.00 as of this morning. The sell-off occurred as soon as El Salvador went long and made it an official currency. Coincidence? Possibly. I suspect heavy long-positioning and nerves once it dropped back through USD 50,000.00 are better reasons.

In the spirit of tradeable versus investible assets, though (there is a huge difference), I do not think bitcoin is out for the count yet. Bitcoin managed to close above its 200-DMA at USD 45,930.00 on a daily basis this week, despite the multi-day waves of selling. That suggests it still has the potential to rally above USD 50,000.00 once again. However, failure of support at USD 44,000.00 is likely to unleash another wave of panic selling and angrier El Salvadoreans.

I note that another sovereign global economic powerhouse and bastion of fiscal stability, the Ukraine, has also made bitcoin legal tender today. El Salvador and Ukraine’s forward-thinking actions have spurred more stories from the press, and institutional, always bullish, a 30% fall in two days is merely a technical correction “experts” about bitcoin going global.

Bitcoin has hardly moved on this momentous and exciting event unless you are a foreign donor, the World Bank, the IMF or a rating agency or a Ukrainian anti-money laundering officer in a financial institution. The lack of positive price follow-through is slightly concerning. You could argue that Ukraine has “stopped the rot” or ” bitcoin should” have rallied. I shall tune in on Sunday at around 1437 SGT, when trading is in full cry, to find out.

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Jeffrey Halley

Jeffrey Halley

Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, from 2016 to August 2022
With more than 30 years of FX experience – from spot/margin trading and NDFs through to currency options and futures – Jeffrey Halley was OANDA’s Senior Market Analyst for Asia Pacific, responsible for providing timely and relevant macro analysis covering a wide range of asset classes.

He has previously worked with leading institutions such as Saxo Capital Markets, DynexCorp Currency Portfolio Management, IG, IFX, Fimat Internationale Banque, HSBC and Barclays.

A highly sought-after analyst, Jeffrey has appeared on a wide range of global news channels including Bloomberg, BBC, Reuters, CNBC, MSN, Sky TV and Channel News Asia as well as in leading print publications such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

He was born in New Zealand and holds an MBA from the Cass Business School.
Jeffrey Halley
Jeffrey Halley

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