The U.S. dollar appreciated versus most major pairs on Friday. The Japanese yen outperformed the greenback as a safe haven, but all other major currencies suffered heavy losses during the week. Tense trade developments between China and the United States and Friday’s drop in the Turkish lira dragged emerging and developed markets lower as US sanctions were doubled.
The economic situation in Turkey has been a powder keg for months, and it’s finally found a spark. While investors have never truly trusted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he’s shredded his last vestiges of credibility in recent months by appointing his son-in-law as the country’s finance minister and espousing his belief that lower interest rates were needed to fight inflation, the exact opposite of economic orthodoxy (and your humble author would argue, all the empirical evidence of centuries of central banking); indeed, Erdogan recently stated, “interest rates are the mother and father of all evil."
In this more or less quiet week, concerns that the worsening situation in Turkey could have a contagion effect on the Eurozone, particularly lenders, and other parts of the world grabbed precedent during the last 24 hours. We believe that low volume this week has exacerbated moves in currencies and equity markets.
Global stock markets are rattled as the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is running his economy into the ground, raising contagion fear surrounding other European nations. Initially, crude oil was following the stock markets down, but then turned positive on a report from the normally more bearish leaning International Energy Agency, which is warning that as oil sanctions against Iran take effect, perhaps in combination with production problems elsewhere, maintaining global supply might be very challenging and would come at the expense of maintaining an adequate spare capacity cushion.
Investors in Asia largely brushed off the ongoing trade fight between China and the United States, with Shanghai’s blue-chip stocks climbing 2.4%, a move supported by the tech and financial sectors. Solid economic data and possible government intervention through monetary & fiscal policies encouraged investors to take some risk on Thursday.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq held ground well yesterday after four strong sessions. This was exactly what we discussed needing to see; a healthy consolidation that kept each index within 1% of a record high. Globally, there was a bit more volatility overnight with Europe and Japan in the red while China and Hong Kong have notched solid sessions in the green.
After a sharp slide, the pound has finally caught a bid today. While it is too early to suggest that a low has been hit, today’s rebound is certainly a welcome relief for the pound bulls. The British pound/U.S. dollar (GBP/USD) currency pair has ended a run of five consecutive losses, the GBP/JPY is up after falling six days in a row, while the euro/British pound (EUR/GBP) is back below 0.90 after a sharp four-day rally.