US President Donald Trump tweeted that China and Europe are manipulating
their currencies to compete with USA and not to be left behind, Bank of England
Governor Mark Carney also talked down the pound sterling. Federal Reserve Chair
Powell’s testimony to Congress was seen as dovish, suggesting an interest rate
cut in the US later this month is a done deal. And that would happen amid full
employment, solid economic growth of 3% per year and S&P 500 reaching an
all time high above 3000. All leads to the suspicion of a return to a currency
Gold remained above $1400 mark as Bloomberg reported that central
banks buying in 2019 is on track for 700 tons, which represents an increase of 73%
compared with last year. The main reasons were slowdown in economic growth,
geopolitical tensions and trade disputes as well as attempts to diversify reserves
from fiat currencies.
China June Inflation data showed CPI at 2.7%, in line with
expectations the lowest since August 2016, which could be problematic for
industrial profits going forward.
In the US, FOMC June meeting minutes saw many Fed officials
calling for a rate cut as a ‘cushion for shocks’ adding that inflation
expectations were inconsistent with the 2% goal.
In UK, the pound fell below 1.25 to the dollar to a low of 1.2440,
the weakest level since April 2017. The slump was based on the lingering Brexit
uncertainty still weighing on the economy which is expected to contract in Q2,
the first time in 7 years. UK Prime Minister contender Boris Johnson maintains
that the country must be prepared to leave EU without a deal. On Friday GBPUSD
rebounded slightly around 1.2550.
Meanwhile the former International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde
is set to be confirmed as the new ECB President in October. At the same
time European Commission warned of rising downside risks and downgraded the
euro zone economic outlook in its latest forecast. ECB minutes also indicated a
governing council agreeing on the need to prepare for policy easing. Despite
that we can see EURUSD holding between 1.1240 to 1.1280 range.
Gold’s breakout above levels that held repeatedly since 2013, making a high of $1439, has been described as a perfect storm of technicals and fundamentals. Geopolitics, in the form of US tensions with Iran, Sino-US trade dispute, a Federal Reserve getting ready to ease again constantly bullied by a President who desperately wants a weaker dollar (and higher stock market), all lined up to support the precious metal.
China’s Commerce Ministry said tariffs by certain countries are a threat to the global economy, although they agreed to keep open the communication channels with the US. Meanwhile US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reiterated Trump’s tariffs threats are not a bluff, although his camp is looking for a ‘reasonable deal’ with China over trade.
Presidents Trump and Xi will meet on Saturday in Japan at the G20 summit and the media seems cautiously optimistic, although both sides aren’t giving much away.
Boris Johnson, the front runner to become the UK Prime Minister, said Parliament is now ready to back a no-deal Brexit and repeated his promise to exit by October 31 this year. Fear grows among Brussels politicians that a no-deal Brexit is increasingly becoming unavoidable. After encountering good support at 1.25 to the dollar, the sterling soared to 1.2750 which was good resistance in the past.
ECB President Mario Draghi hinted last week that more stimulus will be needed if the outlook remains concerning, amid lingering uncertainty regarding trade tensions. A string of economists were quick to predict the central banker will emphasize that more and more in the near future and eventually take action, possibly from September onwards. The EURUSD is sitting just below 1.14.
After going south for a good 18 months, Bitcoin more than doubled since early May reaching above $13,800 and the steep surge made everyone remember the booming second half of 2017. It retraced to $10,500 and looks to be stable just below $12,000 on Friday. However Bloomberg reports ‘the pop culture zeitgeist isn’t quite as giddy’ as apparently Google searches for the word bitcoin were five times higher in December 2017. On the other hand, that episode made Bitcoin & co significant enough that a lot more people are now clued up about them. Facebook announced plans to issue their own crypto currency, Libra, in a sign that institutional adoption is gathering pace.
Gold made a break above the $1350 – $1360 area which has offered solid resistance for the last few years, reaching $1400 level. The move came after the Federal Reserve hinted it will soften its monetary policy thus hurting the greenback.
China has cut its holdings of US Treasury by $7.5 billion in April to $1.11 trillion, the lowest mark in almost two years according to Bloomberg. At the same time People’s Bank of China added 240 billion yuan into the banking system, via a one-year (medium term) lending facility, in an attempt to increase banking liquidity. To further counter the US tariffs and limit the damage on its economy, China has lowered duties on non-US imports.
The US Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged in a range between 2.25% – 2.5%, as anticipated, but added the economic activity has been rising at a moderate pace (changed from ‘solid pace’ last month). Chair Powell acknowledged that inflation dropped, trade risks have grown but ‘he wanted to see more’ before cutting. Markets have now almost fully priced in a rate cut of 25 basis points in July with further cuts expected to follow. Quite a turnaround over the year..
After dropping to a recent low of 1.25 to the dollar, the pound sterling managed a small rebound following steady inflation data with CPI figures coming in at +2.0%, in line with consensus. However, selling pressure remains with the continues political uncertainty. On Thursday, the Bank of England left its benchmark rate unchanged at 0.75% with overall language also remaining the same.
Meanwhile ECB President Mario Draghi said more rate cuts are part of the central bank’s key tools, joining the US Fed in taking a renewed dovish stance. Ironically, such actions attracted indignation from President Trump who tweeted that ‘ECB chief remarks make it unfairly easier for them to compete against the US’.
Reserve Bank of Australia has released its June 2019 monetary policy board meeting minutes saying further easing would be appropriate. The labour market, in particular, would be expected to bear the most weight, although lower rates are expected to push down the value of Aussie dollar.
The US dollar started the week on the back foot following growing speculation that a rate cut is back on the table at Federal Reserve. There is no end in sight for the trade dispute with China and its increasing impact on global markets is definitely making investors nervous. The week ended with disappointing non- farm payroll figures of 75K versus the expectation of 175k, which leads to the US dollar expected to lose value further.
Replying to repetitive accusations against his country’s policies, China’s foreign ministry said that every setback in trade talks is ‘due to US breaking consensus’. Amid stalling negotiations, it is unclear if China will devalue its currency in retaliation to US tariffs or employ a more targeted approach i.e. restrict exports of rare earths to the US (China accounts for more than 70% of global output).
Back in the UK on the Brexit front, Tory leadership contender Boris Johnson said if he gets in ‘we’ll come out of Europe with a deal or no deal by 31 October’. The no deal option is causing a lot of uncertainties within UK, which could possibly cause sterling to drop across the board.
European Commission reportedly has sent a letter to Italy blaming it for a violation of debt reduction rules and is preparing to apply a $4 billion fine. Responding to this, Italian deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio commented the EU made ‘absurd’ requests on investments. Away from domestic squabbles, economic fears spread as the European Central Bank signalled its readiness to embark on a fresh round of bond purchases. So we have a dovish signals from both the ECB and the Fed, but the euro is the currency currently coming out stronger breaking above 1.13 against the greenback.
In a move that was widely anticipated, the Reserve Bank of Australia’ cut cash rates by 25 basis points from 1.5% to 1.25% at its latest monetary policy meeting on 4 June. That represents a record low for Australia and is the first slash by the central bank since August 2016. The decision was taken to support jobs growth, achieve inflation target as well as to deal with a weakening housing market.
Gold tumbled to $1383 on the back of a stronger USD, following a positive meeting between Chinese and US Presidents over the weekend. Nonetheless the sell-off was rather short lived and a rebound soon followed with the precious metal pushing back above $1430 within two days. Hitting perfect technical retracement levels.
The highlight of the Trump-Xi meeting at G20 summit is that both sides have agreed to restart trade talks and there will be no new levies on Chinese goods. Meanwhile the focus shifted with and the US proposing to add more tariffs to $4 bln worth of EU goods.
China’s June Caixin Manufacturing PMI came in at 49.4 vs 50.1 anticipated. It is the second lowest reading since June 2016 showing a contraction in manufacturing as the overall economy slips further into the red. However Premier Li Keqiang was adamant earlier in the week that China will not resort to yuan devaluation.
ECB policymakers seemed confident they don’t need to add monetary stimulus in July preferring instead to wait for more data on the economy (no mention of QE). EURUSD was on the downside for the whole week testing lows of 1.12 at the time of writing. Meanwhile EU leaders agreed to appoint Christine Lagarde (the current IMF chief) as the next ECB President
OPEC agreed to extend the production cuts by an additional 9 months, concerned with the excess oil supply from the US. The trade truce is seen as bullish for global growth but the rally in oil prices was short lived as the markets came off the highs.
On Friday, the US nonfarm payrolls report showed 224k jobs were added in June, a lot higher than markets had anticipated. In reaction, the Dow fell 100 points and gold prices slipped below $1400 (hovering around $1415 before the announcement) amid a strengthening US dollar. Analysts were quick to speculate the numbers would now make it much harder for the Fed to justify a rate cut at the next meeting ( if it wasn’t for a meddling President who has three words in regards to monetary policy ‘cut cut cut’….).
The pound sterling started the week on the back foot due to ongoing poor UK data. It fell below the previously good support level of 1.25 USD after the US jobs report.