Trader thoughts - the long and short of it

It was a tale of two halves for the ASX200 yesterday, dipping at the open before roaring back to close the day’s trade 1.3 per cent higher.

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Source: Bloomberg

ASX200 yesterday: The dour beginnings came on the back of reports from Bloomberg – now well known – that the Trump Administration would be seeking to slap tariffs on (in effect) all Chinese imports into the US, if a deal couldn’t be achieved between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at next month’s G20 Summit. In a testament to the jumpiness of financial markets the world over currently, the tone changed in global markets upon the release of news that, in an interview with Fox News, US President Trump believed there was a “great deal” in the works between the US and China.

Sentiment in Asian trade: A highly ambiguous statement. Nevertheless, market participants – clinging onto every shred of hope – took the comments, bound them to their sense of optimism, and ran Asian equity indices generally higher. Breadth on the ASX 200 was at a noteworthy 75 per cent, though on volumes slightly below last week’s average, with the major momentum/growth sectors topping the sectoral map. The financials, as is always required, did most of the heavy lifting, adding 30 points to the index, in part in preparation for upcoming company reports from the Big 4. The Australian market has now pulled itself out of oversold levels, to break-trend on the RSI, and in doing so, establishing the foundations for a challenge of a cluster of resistance levels between 5780 and 5880.

Corrective bias remains: No doubt, it was a praise-worthy performance from the ASX200, but Australian investors are far from out of the woods yet. Putting aside the major global drivers dictating the fate of equity markets the world over, the simple price action on the ASX200 index doesn’t yet indicate an end to the recent bearish streak. If anything, at least as it currently presents, the technical indicators play into it. The push into oversold levels necessitates a recovery in the ASX, as bargain hunting buyers galvanize a bounce higher. There’s some way to go before a reversal in the recent short-term trend lower can be definitively considered finished. A clean break through 5930 and a solid hold above 5780 would be the categorical sign required before this can be stated. Until then, abandoning a bearish perception of the ASX may well be premature.

ASX200 drivers: As if often stated, the overall activity in the ASX200 is determined by an oligopoly of banks, a slew of mining companies, a couple of supermarkets and a much-loved biotechnology firm. The banks have received a leg-up thus far this week, as investors ignore regulatory risk and a property to slowdown to buy in ahead of a series of bank earning’s reports. The miners are being slayed by increased concerns about the impacts of tariffs on global growth, though increased fiscal stimulus from the Chinese and its knock-on effects to iron ore prices could be their salvation. Woolworths and Wesfarmers are performing solidly, though not well enough to carry the entire market higher. While a diminishing appetite for growth/momentum stocks has led to losses of over 5 per cent for market darling CSL over the past 3 months.

Global macro and share market trends: Reviewing the fundamental macro forces required to stimulate the market perhaps reinforces the notion that the ASX200 still has some correcting to do. Although equity markets have experienced a relatively strong start to the week, the risks that catalysed the recent correction in segments of the market have not disappeared. Much of the reversal can be attributed to a belief amongst investors that the recent share market volatility will force the US Federal Reserve to soften its hawkishness and increase US interest rates at a slower pace.

US Treasury markets reflect this, with the yield on the rate-sensitive US Treasury note falling from +2.90 per cent to as low as 2.81 per cent this week, as traders decrease their bets on December Fed-hike to 70 per cent. Indeed, it remains a possibility that a “Powell-put” under the US (and therefore global) share market may emerge, but the remarkably strong fundamentals in the US economy still imply a need for the Fed to hike interest rates – a dynamic that, if it materialized, will sustain volatility and further equity market adjustment.

Overnight in Europe and America: To lower the eyes and turn focus to the day ahead, SPI futures are presently indicating a 9-point drop at the open for the ASX200. Futures markets have pared losses late in US trade, following a late session run on Wall Street that has seen the Dow Jones climb an impressive 1.86 per cent, the S&P 500 rally 1.26 per cent, and the Nasdaq jump 1.56 per cent – though the latter may find itself legged in afterhours trade by an underwhelming earnings report from Facebook. The rally in the North American session followed-on from a soft day in European shares, which were mired by news of a potential ratings downgrade of UK debt by S&P, along with mixed economic data releases across the Eurozone. The USD climbed because of this imbalance between European and American sentiment, pushing the EUR below 1.1350, the Pound into the 1.27 handle, and gold prices to US$1223 per ounce.

Australian CPI data: The trading week hots-up from today onwards, in preparation for several important fundamental data releases. Domestically, none will come more significant than today’s Australian CPI print, from which market participants are forecasting a quarterly price growth figure of 0.5 per cent. That number, if realized, won’t be enough to crack the bottom of the RBA’s inflation target band of 2-3 per cent, and will, in effect, affirm the central bank’s soft inflation outlook and dovish rate bias. As always, a figure of extreme variance to either side of market consensus could shift the Australian Dollar and interest rate markets. Traders remained wedded to the idea that the RBA won’t hike interest rates until early 2020: an extreme upside surprise in today’s CPI could see this adjust and spark a run higher in the AUD/USD towards trend channels resistance at 0.7200 – though this outcome is highly unlikely.

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