Last week has been a terrible one for President Domald Trump. His former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud on Tuesday, while his ex-personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges on the same day.
Markets traditionally kick back into high gear after Labor Day, but one should not underestimate this last week of August. Trade talks remain at the forefront and last week’s newest round between the United States and China failed to yield true substance. However, the purpose was to delay the imminence of the third wave of tariffs in which the White House would impose $200 billion on Chinese goods; this, in our opinion, would be the official start of a trade war.
There is mixed sentiment towards the Greenback at the start of the new trading week. The dollar has edged marginally higher against the euro, the pound and the Australian dollar with the Greenback broadly stronger against those in the EMEA as all eyes return to the Lira after Turkish markets resume trading following a week-long holiday.
A strong close Friday confirmed that the Federal Reserve is still in the driver’s seat. The major takeaways from last week’s FOMC Minutes and Fed Chair Powell’s speech are that there are no signs inflation will run away, real rates have stayed suppressed and as long as uncertainties in international trade persist, the Fed will remain accommodative; this is a potent recipe for higher prices.
The U.S. dollar is lower against most major pairs on Friday. The greenback was waiting for U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Powell’s speech at the central bank summit in Jackson Hole but in the end no new information was provided. Chair Powell reiterated the data dependency of the central bank and shared his optimism regarding inflation. The market is already pricing in two US rate hikes in 2018 and the somewhat dovish remarks from Powell did not add support to the U.S. dollar.
China is buying our oil and that could be Iran’s worst nightmare. It seems that the Chinese trade talks went nowhere, but despite that fact, China’s demand for U.S. crude oil might rise anyway. According to Reuters “China’s Unipec will resume purchases of U.S. crude oil in October after a two-month halt due to the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.”
If you get the dollar right, you will get a lot of things right. Hard-lined policy in Washington has created a safe-haven flight to the dollar. Trade policy and sanctions have resonated an uncertain atmosphere for growth in many areas of the world