Commodities tried to turn the corner on reports of low-level talks about a framework to end the trade war and this made everyone realize that perhaps some of the fears of the backlash from a trade war were overblown. China is feeling the pain of the trade war while the United States looks to be gaining. If recent trade trends continue, it is possible that the United States may find it harder and harder to lift tariffs.
The dog days of August that have set in on the moves in the commodities have been exaggerated. While crude oil holds the 200-day moving average, after a major seasonal sell-off, the concerns about a serious demand slowdown are most likely overblown. Turkey, of course, is a major oil producer and Consumer. NOT! The fears of contagion, steaming from the stepped upped pressure from the Trump Administration, has been overdone. We are in the dog days, and oil bears have begun licking their chops, mistaking seasonal weakness for a major bear turn in the market.
U.S benchmarks are lower this morning with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both down more than 0.5% on emerging market fears and the escalation of the conflict with Turkey. China is leading the way lower on a delayed reaction to Monday night’s trio of dismal reads; Industrial Production, Fixed Asset Investment and Retail Sales.
A bearish American Petroleum Institute (API) report, as well as the continuing drama surrounding Turkey is raising fears of a slowdown in oil demand based upon fears of raising contagion coming out of Turkey. The oil market that tried to mount a major comeback yesterday was thwarted by a risk aversion in the dollar that sunk oil, as well as industrial and precious metals.
This morning brings a reprieve from turmoil; the Turkish Lira has bounced back as much as 8% before settling in. The story will continue to develop and an agreement to release the American pastor will certainly be favorable for the global risk appetite. While the damage to the world’s currency market has been done, we maintain that it is important to not get stuck in the forest so that you can see the trees; there can be a lot of noise in the headlines, especially during slower summer months.
The markets were a little calmer in the first half of today’s session as the Turkish lira finally stopped falling, while the pound staged a short-lived bounce in the aftermath of mixed-bag UK data. The dollar was little changed, rising most notably against the yen thanks to the slight reduction in risk aversion. Stocks rebounded but were again coming under pressure at the time of writing. Oil prices rose but gold and silver remained near yesterday’s lows following their big slide.
The crude oil and petroleum markets took a Turkish bath yesterday, but in doing so it may have washed out the bearishness and put in our seasonal low. The moves in the market seemed beyond crazy because at the end of the day the Turkish currency crisis is a much more political than financial crisis. Oil moved on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, lowering its demand forecast and fears of a rise in supply, but it was Turkey that cleansed the market.
The Turkish Lira resumed its drop early Monday touching a new record low of 7.21 per dollar before recovering slightly during Asia trade. Comments from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak over the weekend that a plan would be revealed today to calm the markets failed to restore confidence.
Crude oil prices are trying to balance the risks to oil supply versus the risks to demand. The risk to the demand side of the equation is coming out of Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing not to be brought to its knees even as it is him that has driven the Turkish economy into freefall. The Turkish central bank says it will provide all the liquidity that the Turkish banks need. That brought the crashing Lira and stock market back a bit, but it is unclear whether that will provide lasting support.
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."