Trader thoughts - the long and short of it

It's still early days, but investors appear to have regained their nerve overnight. The Asian session was tepid, to be sure; however, a rally in European and US equities reveal a market that has found its appetite for equities again.

Market data
Source: Bloomberg

Wall Street: As the existing narrative would imply, much of this was underpinned by a fresh appetite for rate-sensitive US big tech stocks, which according to the NASDAQ, rallied almost 3% overnight, leading both the Dow Jones and S&P in the realms of 2% higher. Implied volatility fell, but remains relatively high at around 18, so of course it would be foolish to claim the recent sell-off is authoritatively through. In stating this, commentary has shifted away somewhat from risks from rates and tariffs, to anticipating the fruits of what is expected to be a bumper reporting season – particularly after the likes of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley posted impressive results early this morning.

Europe: Likely owing to being largely oversold to begin with, the strong activity in European equities come despite a mixed-news day for the region. Like much of the global-share-market following last week’s equity rout, valuations and dividend yields within European indices have become more attractive this week, apparently enough to attract buyers into European share markets, even against doubts regarding the strength of the region’s upcoming reporting season. UK data provided some impetus for the bulls last night, after labour market figures showed that the unemployment rate held at 4.0% and average earning climbed by an above forecast 2.7%. The GBP/USD pushed-up just below the 1.32 handle on the news; however, rate markets were more-or-less steady, as traders ostensibly tie their BOE rate-hike bets to the outcome of souring Brexit negotiations.

Macro-backdrop: The boost to investor sentiment has infused equity traders with glimmers of confidence, though the greater appetite for risk hasn’t necessarily flowed through to other asset classes. Yields on US Treasuries were flat the last 24 hours, and despite climbing back above the 112-handle against the Yen, the US Dollar has failed to catch a major bid. Risk proxies like the AUD and
NZD are a skerrick higher, with the Aussie Dollar floating about 0.7140, but gold is still finding haven buying, holding above a support line at $US1224. Moreover, proving that last night’s rally isn’t on the firm basis of greater confidence in global growth prospects, the Bloomberg Commodity Index edged 0.1 per cent lower, even considering a sustained increase in oil prices amid fears of lower supply because of a potential rift between the US and Saudi Arabia.

ASX: The strong overnight lead has SPI futures pointing a 28-point jump for the ASX 200 at this morning's open, following a day in which the Australian share market popped modestly higher from its oversold levels. The pop was reflected primarily in the activity in bank stocks, which rallied-off its own oversold reading, to collectively climb 0.55% for the session. It was the materials space though that led the index higher, courtesy of a 1.4% rally, despite the limited price gains in commodity prices yesterday. The day's trade establishes an interesting dynamic for the ASX 200 today: the index fought unsuccessfully throughout trade to re-enter last week's broken trend channel. Futures markets has this transpiring at the open - a positive sign for the Aussie market.

Regional data: Despite leading to limited price action across the region, Asia was littered with fundamental data yesterday. It was kicked-off early morning our time, upon the release of key New Zealand CPI data, which revealed stronger than expected consumer price growth of 1.9% annualized for that economy. The algo-traders seemed to kick-in post the event, pushing the NZD/USD to the significant 0.6600 handle, before human rationality took over the pair lower, primarily on the knowledge that the data wouldn’t change materially the RBNZ’s interest rate views. Chinese CPI data was also printed yesterday, revealing an-expectation figure of 2.5% – up from the previous 2.3%. Once again however, although inflation is proving to be running a little hotter in China, trader’s judged that the news wouldn’t shift the dial for policymakers and promptly moved on.

RBA’s Minutes: Of domestic significance, the RBA released the minutes from their recent meeting, with very little novel information to glean: “members continued to agree that the next move in the cash rate was more likely to be an increase than a decrease. However, since progress on unemployment and inflation was likely to be gradual, they also agreed there was no strong case for a near-term adjustment in monetary policy”. The reaction in market was one of the more muted from an RBA release, registering barely a reaction across financial markets. There were some interesting points discussed from a purely academic perspective in the document – some substance for the economics-nerds – especially relating to hot global asset prices, but nothing in the way of potential policy approaches from the central bank.

FOMC Minutes and Reporting Season: Approaching the half-way mark for the trading-week, investors prepare for its pointier end. The major event will transpire tomorrow morning local time, in the form of the FOMC Minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s last monetary policy meeting. Of course, most of panic and volatility in global markets has come because of the Fed’s hawkishness in recent times, so market participants will peruse the details of tomorrow’s minutes for insights that confirm or deny fears about higher global rates. The broader market will also engross itself further in US reporting season, with Netflix (for one) posting what is being considered currently a better than forecast set of numbers, by way of virtue of a smashing of subscription growth estimates.

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