Investors were placed on an emotional rollercoaster ride this week as trade tensions between the United States and China intensified. The Trump Administration’s latest threats to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods initially dealt a blow to global sentiment, rekindled jitters and sparked risk aversion.
The biggest crude oil draw since 2016 was not enough to stop oil from a major drop in price. A slew of oil supply side stories includes the resumption of Libyan crude exports, an increase in Saudi Arabia crude output, possible waivers on U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil and reports that oil is on the agenda when President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet next month.
A fresh wave of risk aversion swept across financial markets after the United States threatened to impose tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. This unfavorable move comes just days after the two countries slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion worth of each other’s imports.
The mixed-bag U.S. jobs report on Friday caused the dollar to weaken further, allowing the likes of the euro/U.S. dollar and the Aussie dollar/U.S. dollar currency pairs to push higher, while buck-denominated gold also got a boost. The U.S. dollar/Canadian dollar currency pair, meanwhile was hit with a double whammy as it not only fell on the back of the NFP report but the Canadian dollar also got a boost from the stronger Canadian employment figures.
As a reminder for traders who are still a bit groggy after celebrating America’s independence yesterday, the Federal Reserve opted to raise its benchmark interest rate by 25bps to the 1.75-2.00% at its meeting three weeks ago (see “FOMC recap: Hawkish statement and projections, hesitant Powell”).
After Monday’s price action, you'd be excused to think that today would have been a “risk-on” day. After all, the major stock averages ended Monday with relatively large green candles and there was some bullish follow-through at the European open. That’s why we thought gold’s earlier rally looked suspicious and that the metal could weaken again.
The reality of life at a quantitative research shop is that our work has less to do with developing algorithms to predict the future and more with finding new ways to use already proven concepts, especially those contrarian ones found in behavioral finance.
With the Trump Administration working toward zero Iranian exports by November, Libyan oil supplies at risk due to clashes with militias, and crashing supply from Venezuela, reports of tightening U.S. supply is keeping oil on edge. Crude oil price continued its drive, hitting $74 a barrel for the first time since that fateful OPEC meeting in November 2014.
The recovery in the stock markets could not last long and by the close of play yesterday all of the earlier gains evaporated. Although equity indices opened higher in Europe this morning, they have since turned mixed with shares in Germany falling and UK remaining positive. U.S. index futures were still slightly positive at the time of this writing, but should Europe turn decisively negative, I can’t see why Wall Street wouldn’t follow suit.
It is slowly shaping up to be another rough and rocky trading week for global equity markets as escalating trade tensions between the United States and China weigh on risk sentiment. A risk-off vibe continues to linger in the air with investor confidence clearly shaken after the Trump Administration announced plans to restrict Chinese investments in American businesses.