- Stocks Turn Mixed, Dollar Faces Rate Hike Uncertainty
Share markets turned mixed in Asia on Monday amid conflicting signals on the prospects for a truce in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute, while the Federal Reserve’s newly-found concerns over the global economy constrained the dollar.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dithered either side of flat through a sluggish session. Chinese blue chips manage to add 0.5 percent, as did Japan’s Nikkei.
But E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 slipped 0.36 percent and spread betters pointed to modest opening losses for the major European bourses.
Wall Street had firmed on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump said that he may not impose more tariffs on Chinese goods after Beijing sent a list of measures it was willing to take to resolve trade tensions.
The comment stoked speculation of a deal when Trump meets Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina later this month.
However, Sino-U.S. tensions were clearly on display at an APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea over the weekend, where leaders failed to agree on a communique for the first time ever.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in a blunt speech that there would be no end to U.S. tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods until China changed its ways.
“The comments from Trump were seen as offering a glimmer of hope that further tariff action could be held in abeyance,” said NAB’s head of FX strategy, Ray Attrill.
“The exchange of barbs between Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping in PNG on the weekend continues to suggest this is unlikely.”
SENSING A FED SHIFT
Also uncertain was the outlook for U.S. interest rates.
Federal Reserve policymakers are still signaling rate increases ahead but also sounded more concerned about a potential global slowdown, leading markets to suspect the tightening cycle may not have much further to run.
“Fed officials are having an easier time showing a slightly less hawkish leaning by noting the emerging global slowdown,” said Deutsche Bank’s macro strategist Alan Ruskin.
“It’s undercutting expectations of rate hikes moving above ‘neutral’,” which the Fed has nominated as between 2.5 and 3 percent. “This shift in tone is subtle, but fits with the more bullish bond market tone of late, and is starting to have a material impact on the dollar.”
That will focus attention on an appearance by New York Fed President John Williams later on Monday to see if he echoes the same theme.
Investors have already lengthened the odds on further hikes, with a December move now priced at 73 percent, down from over 90 percent. Futures imply rates around 2.74 percent for the end of next year, compared to 2.93 percent early this month.
Yields on U.S. 10-year paper have duly declined to 3.06 percent, from a recent top of 3.25 percent.
The dollar followed to hover at 96.509 against a basket of currencies, down from a peak of 97.693. The euro was parked at $1.1400, while the dollar backed off to 112.72 yen.
Sterling remained vulnerable at $1.2826 after political turmoil over Brexit caused steep losses last week.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday that toppling her would risk delaying Brexit as she faces the possibility of a leadership challenge from within her own party.
With both pro-EU and pro-Brexit lawmakers unhappy with the draft agreement, it is not clear she will be able to win the backing of parliament, raising the risk Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
In commodity markets, gold found support from the drop in the dollar and held at $1,1220.19.
Oil prices suffered their sixth straight week of losses last week, but have found some aid from expectations the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would cut output.
Brent crude was up 54 cents at $67.30 a barrel, while U.S. crude gained 70 cents to $57.16.
Brent Crude Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel on Friday
Nigerian Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel Following OPEC+ Production Cuts Extension
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $69 on Friday at 3:55 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price jumped after OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to role-over crude oil production cuts to further reduce global oil supplies and artificially sustain oil price in a move experts said could stoke inflationary pressure.
Brent crude oil rose from $63.86 per barrel on Wednesday to $69 per barrel on Friday as energy investors became more optimistic about the oil outlook.
While certain experts are worried that U.S crude oil production will eventually hurt OPEC strategy once the economy fully opens, few experts are saying production in the world’s largest economy won’t hit pre-pandemic highs.
According to Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental, U.S oil production may not return to pre-pandemic levels given a shift in corporates’ value.
“I do believe that most companies have committed to value growth, rather than production growth,” she said during a CNBC Evolve conversation with Brian Sullivan. “And so I do believe that that’s going to be part of the reason that oil production in the United States does not get back to 13 million barrels a day.”
Hollub believes corporate organisations will focus on optimizing present operations and facilities, rather than seeking growth at all costs. She, however, noted that oil prices rebounded faster than expected, largely due to China, India and United States’ growing consumption.
“The recovery looks more V-shaped than we had originally thought it would be,” she said. Occidental previous projection had oil production recovering to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022. The CEO Now believes demand will return by the end of this year or the first few months of 2022.
“I do believe we’re headed for a much healthier supply and demand environment” she said.
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $67.70 per barrel on Thursday following the decision of OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to extend production cuts.
OPEC and allies are presently debating whether to restore as much as 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil in April, according to people with the knowledge of the meeting.
Experts have said OPEC+ continuous production cuts could increase global inflationary pressure with the rising price of could oil. However, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “I don’t think it will overheat.”
Last year “we suffered alone, we as OPEC+” and now “it’s about being vigilant and being careful,” he said.
Saudi minister added that the additional 1 million barrel-a-day voluntary production cut the kingdom introduced in February was now open-ended. Meaning, OPEC+ will be withholding 7 million barrels a day or 7 percent of global demand from the market– even as fuel consumption recovers in many nations.
Experts have started predicting $75 a barrel by April.
“We expect oil prices to rise toward $70 to $75 a barrel during April,” said Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president of macro oils at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “The risk is these higher prices will dampen the tentative global recovery. But the Saudi energy minister is adamant OPEC+ must watch for concrete signs of a demand rise before he moves on production.”
Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin
Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges
Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.
The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.
The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.
“We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.
Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.
Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.
In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.
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