Connect with us

Markets

Markets Today – Central Banks, UK Boosters, Lira Lows, Apple, Oil, Gold, Bitcoin

Published

on

U

By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

What a week we have in store and equity markets are off to another strong start as investors brush aside downside economic risks this winter.

Once again we’re seeing the resilience of investors in action. This week we have a plethora of central bank decisions, the highlight of which will obviously be the Fed on Wednesday, as well as a wide array of economic data and, let’s not forget, more information on the Omicron variant and the risks it poses in the coming months.

The bulk of this week’s event risk is loaded into the second half of the week but there’ll clearly be no shortage of action before then as we’re already seeing. It may just be that there’s heightened focus on Omicron and the measures leaders are taking to get to grips with it and prevent a more severe crisis in the coming weeks.

UK getting nervous about Omicron as over 30s encouraged to get booster

We’re already seeing the effect the new variant is having here in the UK, with more restrictions being imposed and the government urging people 30 and over to get the booster. Suddenly it’s a scramble to get boosted, so much so that we’re seeing long queues outside vaccinations centres and, as I’ve experienced the last 24 hours, a booking website completely incapable of handling the surge in numbers.

The economy was already facing numerous headwinds this winter and the clear concern coming from the top is only going to filter down and be a drag at an important time for many businesses. With the Prime Minister refusing to rule out further curbs before Christmas and his credibility at a low following recent leaks, who knows what the coming weeks will hold. The hope is that the late dash for the booster will be enough to save Christmas this year.

All considered it’s hardly surprising that market pricing for a rate hike from the BoE this week has plunged. The MPC was slaughtered last month for overwhelmingly voting against raising rates after misleading investors in the weeks leading up to the meeting. This time investors are clearly focused more on the rational argument for hiking, which in the current environment, there isn’t much of. February makes much more sense.

Lira plunges against ahead of CBRT on Thursday

I obviously understand why the Fed is the headline event this week but it’s the CBRT I’m most looking forward to. The central bank and government are signing from the same hymn sheet but living on a different planet from the rest of us. Inflation is above 21% and yet interest rates are expected to fall by another 100 basis points on Thursday to 14%, totaling a cut of 500 basis points since September.

A fourth intervention in the currency markets after the dollar rallied above 14 against the lira at the start of the week on the back of the S&P outlook downgrade will prove to be about as successful as the rest. The lines aren’t even blurred between government and central bank anymore, as evident in remarks by Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati on Sunday, when he claimed: “we won’t raise the interest rate”. That makes for an interesting rate decision on Thursday, but unfortunately further pain for Turkish businesses and households for many months to come.

Apple ticking all the boxes

Apple is closing in on a $3 trillion market cap in what would be another landmark moment for the company, coming a little over a year after hitting $2 trillion and three years after $1 trillion. It really is an incredible achievement and just begs the question, how long until it hits $4 trillion? They have a fantastic product lineup and so much to offer in the coming years. It’s had its doubters at times over the years, particularly on the innovation side, but it appears to be ticking all the boxes at the moment.

Oil stabilizes as we await more Omicron data

Oil prices appear to have stabilized over the last week after roaring back from their Omicron-induced losses. OPEC+ put a floor under the price for now as the group warned of sudden adjustments in output but ultimately, the price will only hold up as long as investors continue to believe Omicron poses no substantial threat. Leaders appear more concerned than investors at the moment which is always a worry, but with oil prices 15% off their October highs, there does appear to be some caution priced in at these levels.

Gold range-bound ahead of the Fed

Gold is seeing some support for a second day but remains below $1,800 and within the range it’s traded broadly within over the last few weeks. If it can break above $1,810 it may pick up some momentum to the upside but I struggle to see that ahead of the Fed decision on Wednesday. Then it’s a question of what gold bulls will want to see from the meeting. No taper acceleration? Pushback against rate hikes? Transitory being brought out of retirement? I’m not sure we’ll see any of these.

Bitcoin struggling once more

Bitcoin is back below $50,000 and really struggling to find any bullish momentum when the price does rebound. An improvement in risk appetite hasn’t even helped the cryptocurrency which could be facing a move back towards the levels seen during the flash crash earlier this month if $47,000 falls. Perhaps central banks collectively paring back tightening expectations will get the crypto community excited again this week.

Continue Reading
Comments

Markets

Markets Today – Cautiously Higher, China, Oil, Gold, Bitcoin

Published

on

By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

European stock markets moved cautiously higher on Monday as investors were tempted back in after a turbulent start to the year.

It’s been a relatively quiet start to the week, with the US bank holiday naturally weighing on activity. With that in mind, I don’t think we can read too much into today’s advances, especially as they’re occurring alongside rising yields which doesn’t seem particularly sustainable at a time of such anxiety in the markets.

It will be interesting to see if investors are tempted back in now that earnings season is underway. The emergence of omicron may mean that many companies don’t enjoy the kind of performance that was expected before but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of positives to take away.

Of course, there are areas that will naturally chip away at that enthusiasm. Whether that’s margins being squeezed, prices increased or staffing costs, for example, there’ll be plenty for investors to get their heads around as they contend with sky-high valuations and a tricky economy this year.

PBOC cuts rates despite strong growth in 2021

A mixed bag of data overnight from China, where GDP growth exceeded expectations but retail sales fell short and the unemployment rate ticked higher. While the economy is still performing well after far exceeding its growth targets for 2021, many challenges remain, not least the crackdown on the property market that has led to firms defaulting on coupon payments and being forced into negotiations with bondholders.

This explains the PBOC decision overnight to cut interest rates and further easing is expected to follow as the central bank looks to support the economy through a turbulent period.

Oil rally continues as output continues to fall short

Oil prices are edging higher again at the start of the week as it continues its remarkable run since bottoming in early December. It’s up more than 30% over that time and there still appears to be momentum in the move. Kazakhstan has seen its output return to pre-unrest levels but that’s done little to slow the rally in recent sessions.

Ultimately it comes down to the ability of OPEC+ to deliver the 400,000 barrel per day increase that it’s vowed to do each month. The evidence suggests it’s not that straightforward and the group is missing the targets by a large margin after a period of underinvestment and outages. That should continue to be supportive for oil and increase talk of triple-figure prices.

Can gold break key resistance?

Gold is marginally higher on the day after pulling back again late last week. The yellow metal has repeatedly struggled at $1,833 and it would appear it’s having the same struggles this time around as well. It did finally break through here in November but it didn’t last and it seems the psychological barrier is as firm as ever.

That said, it’s impossible to ignore gold at the moment as it continues to rally despite more and more rate hikes being priced in around the world and yields rising in tandem. There could be an argument that we’re seeing safe haven or inflation hedge moves due to the current environment which could become more clear over the coming weeks.

Another run at $40,000?

Bitcoin is down a little over 2% at the start of the week and continues to look vulnerable having failed to bounce back strongly off the recent lows. It appeared to be gathering some upside momentum at times last week but it quickly ran into resistance just shy of $45,000 where it had previously seen support. All eyes are now on $40,000 and whether we’re going to see another run at that major support level.

Continue Reading

Crude Oil

Oil Extends Gain Above $86 Per Barrel Amid Tight Supply

Published

on

Oil

Brent crude oil extended gains above $86.16 per barrel on Monday as global oil investors are projecting that supply will remain tight despite the surge in Libya crude oil production. The increase, they bet would be offset by restraint from top crude oil producers.

Frantic oil buying, driven by supply outages and signs the Omicron coronavirus variant will not be as disruptive to fuel demand as previously feared, has pushed some crude grades to multi-year highs, suggesting the rally in Brent futures could be sustained for a while longer, traders said.

“The bullish sentiment is continuing as (producer group) OPEC+ is not providing enough supply to meet strong global demand,” said Fujitomi Securities analyst Toshitaka Tazawa.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, together known as OPEC+, are gradually relaxing output cuts implemented when demand collapsed in 2020.

But many smaller producers cannot raise supply and others have been wary of pumping too much oil in case of renewed COVID-19 setbacks.

Meanwhile, Libya’s total oil output is back to 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), according to National Oil Corp. Libyan output was about 900,000 bpd last week owing to a blockade of western oilfields.

“Libya’s oil production had dropped to a good 700,000 bpd at the start of the year, which had played its part in the price rise,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

Concerns over supply constraints outweighed the news of China’s possible oil release from reserves, said Fujitomi’s Tazawa.

Sources told Reuters that China plans to release oil reserves around the Lunar New Year holidays between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6 as part of a plan coordinated by the United States to reduce global prices.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Monday that it is the prerogative of the U.S. government whether to release supply from strategic petroleum reserves.

Festering geopolitical threats to supply are also supporting bullish sentiment, analysts said.

U.S. officials voiced fears on Friday that Russia was preparing to attack Ukraine if diplomacy failed. Russia, which has amassed 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, released pictures of its forces on the move.

Continue Reading

Markets

Markets Today – Inflation, Jobless Claims, Boris Blunder, Oil, Gold, Bitcoin

Published

on

outlook

By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

It’s been a rollercoaster start to the year and as we head into earnings season, it’s hard to say exactly where investors stand.

Blocking out the January noise is one thing but it’s made far more complicated by omicron, inflation, and the rapid evolution of monetary policy. Yesterday’s reaction to the inflation data was a case in point. The data mostly exceeded expectations, albeit marginally, while headline inflation was a near 40-year high of 7%. And yet the response was broadly positive.

I get that traders were perhaps fearing the worst and, as I’ve referenced before, it does feel like markets are at peak fear on US monetary policy which could make relief rallies more likely. But there is also underlying anxiety in the markets that could make for some volatile price action for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps earnings season will bring some welcome normality to the markets after a period of fear, relief, and speculation. The fourth quarter is expected to have been another strong quarter, although the emergence of omicron will likely have had an impact during the critical holiday period for many companies. Of course, as we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, that will likely have been to the benefit of others.

And while earnings season will provide a distraction, it is happening against an uncertain backdrop for interest rates and inflation which will keep investors on their toes. It does seem that investors are on the edge of what they will tolerate and it won’t take much to push them over the edge. Which will be fine if we are near the peak of inflation, as many expect.

The data today looks a mixed bag on the face of it, with jobless claims coming in a little higher than expected, which may be down to seasonal adjustments. The overall trend remains positive and continues to point to a tight labor market. The PPI data on the other hand will be welcomed, with the headline number slipping to 0.2% month on month. Perhaps a sign of supply-side pressures finally starting to abate which will come as a relief after inflation hit a near-40 year high last month.

Sterling solid as pressure mounts on Boris

It seems impossible to ignore the political soap opera currently taking place in the UK, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson once again in the public firing line after finally admitting to attending an office party in May 2020.

In other circumstances, uncertainty around the top job in the country could bring pressure in the markets but the pound is performing very well. Perhaps that’s a reflection of the controversy that forever surrounds Boris, and we’re all therefore numb to it, or a sign of the environment we’re in that the PM being a resignation risk is further down the list when compared with inflation, interest rates, omicron, energy prices etc.

Oil remains bullish near highs

Oil prices are easing again today after moving back towards seven-year highs in recent weeks. It was given an additional bump yesterday following the release of the EIA data which showed a larger draw than expected. But with crude already trading near its peak, it maybe didn’t carry the same momentum it otherwise would.

The fundamentals continue to look bullish for gold. Temporary disruptions in Kazakhstan and Libya are close to being resolved, with the latter taking a little longer to get fully back online. But OPEC being unable to hit output targets at a time when demand remains strong is ultimately keeping prices elevated and will continue to do so.

A big test for gold

Gold is off a little today but the price remains elevated with key resistance in sight. The yellow metal has remained well supported in recent weeks even as yields around the world continue to rise in anticipation of aggressive tightening from central banks.

It could be argued that the bullish case for gold is its reputation as an inflation hedge, especially given central banks’ recent record for recognizing how severe the situation is. But with inflation likely nearing its peak, that may not last. That said, fear around Fed tightening may also be peaking which could support gold in the short-term and a break through $1,833 could signal further upside to come.

Can bitcoin break key resistance?

Bitcoin is enjoying some relief along with other risk assets and has recaptured $44,000, only a few days after briefly dipping below $40,000. That swift 10% rebound is nothing by bitcoin standards and if it can break $45,500, we could see another sharp move higher as belief starts to grow that the worst of the rout is behind it. It looks like a fragile rebound at the moment but a break of that resistance could change that.

Continue Reading
Advertisement




Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending