US traders return:
After last week’s sell-off and volatility, and well before the meaty part of trade this week, traders appear to have had their appetite for risk whetted. Only slightly, of course: there is an acute awareness that the next seven days will hurl up some major events and some significant uncertainty. However, the VIX is off its highs and below 20 once again, and riskier assets are feeling some love. There were patches of underperformance yesterday, naturally – our ASX 200 happened to be one of them, along with Chinese indices – but as it applies to most the major indices, a healthy coat of green is covering the screen to kick-off the first 24 hours of the week’s trade.
The tide turned during the Asian session, with no true impetus behind it. If anything, the fundamentals we received during Asia’s trade made for ugly viewing: Japan’s Flash Manufacturing PMI data was released, and that disappointed markets, adding to fears of slower global growth; while New Zealand Retail Sales figures put-in an abominable showing, printing flat quarter-on-quarter versus expectations of a 1.0 per cent expansion. They were non-stories, though, in the ultimate context of yesterday’s trade, as futures markets pushed-higher on pricing of a solid start to the week for equity markets. Some macro-excuses to buy stocks did arrive in the European session, when reports that Italian policy makers were reviewing their maligned budget filtered through markets, compounding the slight lift in confidence engendered by the weekend’s rubber-stamped Brexit deal.
Across European indices, the DAX jumped 1.45 per cent, the FTSE 100 climbed 1.20 per cent, and the Euro Stoxx 50 1.13 per cent. Bond yields edged higher across the Continent and throughout North American, while the positive developments in the Italian fiscal crisis narrowed the spread between German Bunds and Italian BTPs. The fall in US Treasuries saw the yield on the 10 Year note easing to 3.06 per cent and the yield on the 2 Year note to 2.83 per cent, narrowing the spread between those two assets to approximately 23 basis points. The higher yields supported the US Dollar, which returned to the 97-level according to the US Dollar Index. The Japanese Yen was the biggest loser of the major currencies, dropping over half-a-per cent to trade within the middle of the 113-handle; however, gold, the Euro and Pound traded relatively stable.
At time of writing, US stock indices are on the cusp of registering quite a solid day. Volumes are higher on average too, reflecting that there is some substance behind what is being dubbed as a "relief rally". It's more a bounce to be fair – the kind we've seen before since the global stock market correction took hold. Nevertheless, for the bullish and opportunistic, it's justifiably proven a respectable 24 hours. US tech stocks have lead the market higher, supported by a bounce in oil prices, which have helped narrow corporate credit spreads and spur greater appetite for risk. The troubles for tech-stocks and oil haven't passed yet -- the big picture hasn't changed -- though (just maybe) there are signs that the bearishness driving the downside in those assets is abating.
The action in financial markets in overnight trade has SPI futures indicating a 44-point jump at the open – a dynamic if realised, will regain yesterday's session's losses from the opening bell. Activity was quite high on the Australian share market yesterday, with volumes approximately 5 per cent above the 100-day moving average. The liveliness in markets was predominantly driven by a dumping of the mining stocks, which were pummelled by the considerable sell-off in iron ore, following the plunge in steel rebar futures over the weekend in response to greater concerns about Chinese economic growth. Overall, the materials sector was responsible for a noteworthy 25 points of the ASX200's losses during the day’s trade, with the likes of BHP and Rio Tinto sliding just over 3.5 per cent.
The circumstances also led to a slight pull back in the AUD/USD, which generally has lost some of its lustre. Momentum points to the downside now, as the pop higher brought-about by a squeeze on traders’ short positions looks to have stalled, if not subsided. Macro-fundamentals have eased the pressure on the AUD/USD in November, as traders unwind their bets of an aggressive Fed in 2019: the yield-spread between the interest rate sensitive US 2 Year Treasury note and the 2 Year Australian Commonwealth Bond narrowed to as little as 75 basis points. That has expanded once more, but with heightened volatility in the markets and sentiment interfering with fundamentals, a crude assessment of the Bollinger Band suggests that the myriad of macroeconomic risks in the next month could see the AUD/USD move within a broad range between 0.7020 and 0.7450 into the medium term – with the local unit currently smack-bang in the middle of that range based on the weekly chart.
ASX200: Looking ahead:
Now that financial markets have returned to a normal state, getting a gauge on sentiment becomes considerably easier. Positioning will begin taking place across asset classes for the series of US Fed related events in the next 4 days, combined with the weekend's major G20 meeting. The implications for the breadth of global markets are seemingly endless, but as it applies to the ASX200, the outcome of both concerns is profound. IG client sentiment is giving generally bearish signals presently – something that will only become further entrenched if the Fed come-out more hawkish this week and US-China trade negotiations deteriorate. Support at 5600 (give or take) will be where the bulls will be hoping for a floor in the event of a worst-case scenario; while a bullish break-out can't be confirmed until at least 5930 is breached.