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Trader’s thoughts - stocks up, Brexit fails, and Draghi talks down Europe

The ASX200 has clawed itself to a level on the cusp of validating the notion that the market has bottomed.

ASX’s looming recovery

The ASX 200 has clawed itself to a level on the cusp of validating the notion that the market has bottomed. It might feel that we ought to already be at that stage, given we sit 7.5% of the markets lows. But turnarounds take time to be confirmed, and now having broken psychological resistance at 5800, Australian equities are inches away from that point. There are counterarguments to be made, to be fair: the recent rally has come on the back of lower volumes, and the buyers have lost a degree of momentum. Nevertheless, the capacity to push beyond 5800, and then when the time comes, form a new low when the inevitable short-term retracement arrives, would give credence to the 'market-recovery' narrative.

ASX today

SPI futures this morning is pointing to a gain on seven points at the open, at time of writing. There are several risks that could undermine that outlook. As the laptop’s keys are being tapped, there is two hours left to go on Wall Street, and the UK Parliament have just begun the process to vote on UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit Bill. More on that later. ASX bulls today will be searching for a solid follow through from yesterday’s 0.71% gain. The daily candle on the ASX 200 chart showed a market controlled by buyers from start to finish: the market never dipped below its opening price, and it finished by leaping to a new daily (and two-month high) at the close.

Sentiment; jumping at shadows

There’s a lot of noise in the commentariat about what the price action this week means. It is entirely justified. The December sell-off has punters and pundits hyper-vigilant for a catalyst for the next 4% intraday move. Collectively, it’s an irrational fear given how rare such occurrences are, but because it is understood that circumstances haven’t changed so drastically from then to now, such a phenomenon feels conceivable. The sentiment in markets has centred largely on speculation about the strength of China’s economy. On Monday, the fall in risk assets was over-attributed to the poor Chinese trade data, while yesterday it was attributed to the announcement that China’s policy makers are preparing stimulus for the world’s second largest economy.

Mixed price action

The activity in stocks would lend itself to the belief that it is that story moving markets. The price action doesn’t give such a cut and dry indication to that. Indeed, equities were up across the board, and Chinese and Hong Kong stocks led the way. A better barometer for macro-economic drivers are currencies and bonds, and the activity there was rather mixed. US treasuries have traded largely unchanged. The Japanese yen is down, revealing greater appetite for growth and risk, as is gold, for the same reasons. Commodities are mixed: oil is higher, mostly due to diminishing fears of global oversupply. However, commodity currencies like the AUD are down, on the basis that there has been a bid on the USD at the expense of the EUR.

European slow-down

The major laggard in the (major) currency world was the EUR overnight. It’s come as a result of a speech delivered by European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi, who made uncomfortably clear his view that the eurozone economy is slowing down. Much of this view has been baked into markets, as it is. A series of really poor purchasing managers index (PMI) figures across the continent in the past month shows economic activity is in decline. It has diminished the prospect of a hike in interest rates from the ECB at any point this year. Markets have lowered their bets from a 50/50 proposition to less than a 40% chance. German Bunds have rallied consequently, with 10-year Bund yields retracing their recent climb to settle back at 0.20%.

Brexit vote

Bringing it back to unfolding events, May’s Brexit bill - as expected - has been rejected by Parliament. What was perhaps unexpected was the margin of the loss. It was always going to be ugly for May, but the final vote was an abysmal 432-202 against the prime minister’s bill. Thus far, and this is fresh as its being written, the price action appears to reflect the old situation of 'buy the rumour sell the fact'. The GBP/USD has bounced on the news, rallying from its intraday low at $1.27 to currently trade above the $1.28 handle. Wall Street now, with an hour left to trade, has pared some of the day’s gains. The benchmark S&P 500 is battling with the key 2600-level.

The Brexit-vote fallout

The commentary will come thick and fast for the rest of the day on Brexit. Members of the house are still speaking on the matter. Another referendum is being called by some, a general election is being called by others, a popular view seems to be one suggesting a delay of Article 50. How this affects the ASX this morning is contentious. SPI Futures have given up its overnight gains and are currently flat. In all likelihood, given that this morning’s events culminate in another little kick of the can down the road, the lift in volatility will pass for stocks. Markets hate uncertainty, so this relieves that anxiety for now. Using the AUD as a guide, the popular global risk/growth proxy is trading flat as of 7.00am this morning.

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Trading around Brexit

Find out how the UK’s exit from the EU continues to affect traders, and discover:

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