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Risk-off (again): There’s nothing entirely new in what has developed during the European and North American session: the same confluence of factors that has weighed on sentiment in markets have simply reared their head again. It’s probably what makes this situation all the graver, if not at the very least, highly gnawing. The anxiety riddling markets regarding the impacts of trade-protectionism, and the beginning of the end of the easy money era, can’t seem to be rationalized, inflating the magnitude of that issue – apparently inexorably. Fear is feeding on fear, making markets more attuned to the roar of the bears.
Haven buying: As has been the case throughout the turbulent journey markets have traversed in the last week, it pays not to catastrophize; but the longer the weak sentiment lasts the more difficult it will probably prove to shake. As a trader, no matter the weather, opportunities abound for those willing to tackle them. It was havens again that attracted a bid higher last night, with gold (as old-reliable) catching the upswing. Carry trades were broadly unwound and kicked-down the likes of the AUD/USD to the 0.7100 handle, a dynamic causing the Japanese Yen to tick higher. 10 Year US Treasury yields maintained the line at 3.17%, amid opposing pressure of haven buying and the carry-through of higher rate expectations, bringing the USD back into haven-vogue.
Europe: European economics and geo-politics threw up some more major worries overnight, drawn out from the EU economic summit in Brussels. Markets over the extent of the week have priced-out an imminent Brexit resolution, pushing the Pound further into 1.30 handle and the Euro into the 1.14 handle. The greatest risk being priced in by markets however is renewed concern regarding Italy’s fiscal position – and Rome’s perceived belligerence towards Brussels’ bureaucrats. The EU slapped down Rome’s budgetary position, effectively labelling it untenable for both that country and the Union. European sovereign bond spreads widened more so in the last 24 hours, the greatest impact naturally being found in the spread between German Bunds and Italian BTPS, which expanded to almost 330 basis points – the widest margin since 2013.
Global equities: The day on Wall Street, backing that up of Europe’s, has been a difficult one for investors, unaided by a session (of what’s being judged) of soft earnings reports. Two days of lukewarm company reports shouldn’t shift the dial of equity markets, but the hope that strong corporate profits would be the saviour from otherwise dour sentiment hasn’t yet eventuated. It’s forced market-bulls to doubt their conviction and fed the bears greater fodder to sell stocks. Consistent with recent themes, US big-tech and the Nasdaq (down 2.08%) have generally led the sell-off on Wall Street over reluctance to go long growth companies, punctuating the shaky European session where the likes of the FTSE100 dipped 0.39%, and the DAX shed 0.97% – the latter in part due to a poor earnings report from market giant SAP.