Trader's View - Wall Street holds ground, ASX to fall at open

Market update Source: Bloomberg

Earnings optimism tempers the markets’ mood

Financial market participants curbed their enthusiasm yesterday. Friday’s brief excitement on Wall Street relating to a handful of earnings beats from some of the US’s big banks failed to translate into meaningful momentum to begin the new trading week. Such a dynamic was also evident throughout the Asian session. The ASX 200 closed flat for the day, and Chinese stocks rallied and retraced all in the space of a few hours. The Nikkei was higher for the day; however, that was largely due to a markedly weaker Japanese Yen, with that currency unable to reclaim its losses after Friday’s risk-on move.

Sluggish trade on Wall Street

The activity on Wall Street overnight was very much of the “let’s-now-wait-and-see” variety. The behaviour is sensible and based on a sound enough logic. Earnings seasons are a long-slog, with the possible arduousness of this reporting period even greater given the prevailing global economic backdrop. The return of thinner trade conditions, which of course were attributable in part to a level of Monday-itis, betrayed this cautiousness during the North American session. Volumes were below average, and market-breadth was meagre: 38.8% of stocks were higher across Wall Street, with only 4 out of 11 sectors registering gains for the session.

The next bullish impulse being sort out

If traders are unwilling to carry-through with their bullish bias, it bears questioning what presently stands in their way. The obvious answer is a general uncertainty as to whether US stocks will outperform their lowly Q1 earnings estimates; and whether an improvement in forward guidance is delivered by US corporates. But where might the substance of this answer be discovered? If last night’s trade is any indicator, it won’t be US bank stocks. After JP Morgan’s surprise beat on Friday night, the numbers released by the likes of Citi and Goldman Sachs, though solid, didn’t engender quite the same excitement.

Markets wait for bellwether earnings

Instead, the meatier part of earnings season will come when market participant’s receive updates from the major tech-giants and big industrial companies. The rationale for this view is simple enough: the two key sticking points for the market at-the-moment pertains broadly to risk appetite and macroeconomic growth. As last year’s record run and violent correction will attest to, the US tech sector is the bellwether for what desire there is to punt big on growth-stocks. While the powerhouse American industrial companies will provide the ultimate read on what impact the slow-down in China and Europe is having on corporate profits.

ASX likely to keep doing its own thing

The problem is market participants must wait a few days-to-weeks to receive clarity on these matters. For now, traders turn to the Asian session, and that of the ASX in particular, with few chunky leads to determine this region’s early fortunes. SPI Futures for one are pointing to a negative start for Australian equities, with that contract predicting a 16-point drop at the open. It backs up another day where the ASX traded seemingly according to its own will: a lift North American banks perhaps support our own somewhat, however the ASX 200 experienced a meandering day, trading in a narrow 20-point range.

RBA Minutes the key risk event today

Event risk during Asian trade today is relatively light from a global perspective. But for those with an interest in the Australian-macro landscape, RBA Minutes will be one to watch. Since the RBA’s monetary-policy-decision a fortnight ago, traders have moved gradually to temper their bets on the extent of rate cuts from the central bank in the year ahead. By way of virtue of diminishing fears about the state of health of the global economy, traders have reduced the number of implied interest rate cuts by the RBA from about 1-and-a-half to just over 1 before the end of 2019.

Australian Dollar feeling the love

The restored confidence in the global macro-economic outlook has manifested in the Australian Dollar. Though its begun the week listless, the AUD has held onto its short-term trend, to be currently trading just below a few significant resistance level at the prices 200-day moving-average. Despite the yield story apparently unsupportive of the move in the currency, the climb in iron ore prices combined with speculation of further improvements in the global economic outlook is apparently underpinning Aussie Dollar strength. A break over the currency’s 200 day moving-average may well indicate a further run higher for it is afoot.


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