Early optimism for the year

The first day of trade for US equity markets presents an interesting case, appearing to encapsulate the expectations that one may have for the year.

Japan 225
Source: Bloomberg

A strong sentiment at the start of the year coupled with volatility could be what 2017 has in store for the markets.

The US markets returned with vengeance, gapping higher at the open, in contrast to the week of decline in the final week of 2016. Although the indices slipped during the session, dragged by the energy sector, it managed to retrace some losses and still ended the day up 0.85% and 0.60% on the S&P 500 and DJIA respectively. Gains were largely broad-based, with the exception of the utilities sector being caught in a moderate red.

With the strong leads and the return of Japan markets today, Asian markets could see a second day of gains on Wednesday. Starting the first trade session following the New Year holidays, the Nikkei 225 surged to trade above 19,300 when last checked at 08:30am (Singapore time). Prices were eyeing the 19,400 level where the Japanese bourse had consolidated previously.

Driving the gains on the index had been the softer JPY alongside favourable Japanese data where the final Nikkei manufacturing PMI was seen at the highest level since a year ago. Opening calls for the Hong Kong and Singapore markets meanwhile sees a neutral start, though gains later into the day should not be ruled out.

Notably, the US dollar saw a rollercoaster ride overnight and the net higher position for the USD index had certainly helped Japan exporters start the New Year on a positive note. This strong USD trend is however a double-edged sword and my concern would lie with the energy sector as crude oil prices was seen taking a hit from the stronger USD.

Overnight, WTI futures fell from $55.00 per barrel (bbl) to depths of $52.50/bbl levels into Asia morning. Although the US markets had taken the dip in their stride, the development could cap gains for the energy sectors within Asian indices. Furthermore, the ramping up of output by Libya’s National Oil Corporation had added a fresh layer of concern for crude oil prices at the start of the year.

Clearly, despite the dollar trend, gold has remain favoured, as the precious metal was seen with a net higher price despite the USD upmove. Demand has reportedly been coming from Chinese markets and this is no surprise ahead of the Chinese New Year season.

The day ahead will have the markets watching for the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes from their December 13-14 meeting. Regionally, we have the Thailand December inflation rate where growth rates are expected to accelerate.

This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Markets Limited. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients. See full non-independent research disclaimer and quarterly summary.

Find articles by analysts

This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Markets Limited and IG Markets South Africa Limited. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients. International accounts are offered by IG Markets Limited in the UK (FCA Number 195355), a juristic representative of IG Markets South Africa Limited (FSP No 41393). South African residents are required to obtain the necessary tax clearance certificates in line with their foreign investment allowance and may not use credit or debit cards to fund their international account.

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.