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Asia Sees A Modest Relief Rally

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By Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA

The Omicron/Build Back Better (BBB) sell-off seen yesterday morning in Asia, continued throughout the day, sweeping into Europe and US markets. However, in line with my view that tail-chasing range-trading will dominate December, Asian equity markets are rising sharply today. With no news of note hitting the wires, it appears that short-covering in US index futures has been enough to attract the fast money back into local markets in a classic follow-the-leader move.

Similarly, the US Dollar retreated slightly overnight as well as traders booked short-term profits on long positions, while oil, which looked to be suffering some ugly stop-loss price action in thin markets overnight, recovered to finish only slightly down. Notably, the risk-sentiment three amigos, the CAD, AUD and NZD, didn’t rally at all, and remain near year lows. That is as good a warning to the fast-money FOMO gnomes as any, that sentiment remains exceedingly fragile, complicated by rapidly thinning liquidity in asset classes ahead of the holiday season and year-end.

We are one headline away, be it omicron or something else, from normal service resuming. I’ll say it again, December is about V for Volatility and not directional market trends. Searching for conspiracies or rays of hope on every intraday move is a fool’s errand. A case in point is the Turkish Lira which had the mother of all rallies overnight, falling 11.0% intraday, but finishing the overnight session over 20% higher after President Erdogan announced new policy measures to protect the Lira savings from currency depreciation. A look through the new measures left me scratching my head about how they would ever be enacted and executed, especially in a short time. USD/TRY is already 2.40% higher in Asia and all I can say to President Erdogan is thanks for the dip.

The data calendar in Asia is threadbare once again, yesterday’s China Loan Prime Rate announcements being the highlight of the week for the region. The action will be in the US tomorrow with some old news Q3 GDP and PCE Prices, followed by the far more relevant US Personal Income/Spending and Durable Goods for November, plus the weekly Jobless Claims, on Thursday. There is also a swath of minor inflation data released from around the world that will probably only be interesting if it shows large falls that aren’t due to baseline effects. Otherwise, US politics and virus headlines will continue to dominate proceedings.

Relief rally lifts Asian equities.

Asian equities are mostly higher today, thanks to a wave of short-covering sharply lifting US index futures in ever thinner liquidity. Nothing has changed in the world, but the pull of buy-the-dip is stronger than anything the Sackler’s made but should also be approached with caution.

Overnight US equities followed the Asian sell-off from early Monday, finishing deeply in the red. The S&P 500 dropped by 1.11%, while the Nasdaq and Dow Jones retreated by 1.23%. In Asian trading, futures on all three have staged a sharp rally, though. S&P 500 futures are 0.60% higher, while Nasdaq futures have jumped by 0.80% and Dow Jones futures have climbed by 0.50%.

That has been enough to sucker the fast-money FOMO gnomes in Asia into action, nowhere more evident than Japan’s Nikkei 225, which has leapt 2.05% higher, whereas South Korea’s Kospi is up only 0.20%, with Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite and CSI 300 are unchanged. Press suggesting that more clampdowns could be on the way, which should be a surprise to precisely nobody. Hong Kong has rallied modestly, rising 0.30%.

Singapore has risen by 0.60% with Taipei climbing by 0.55%, while Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta remain stubbornly unchanged. Manila is 0.35% lower, but Bangkok has added 0.60%. Australian markets have also joined in some pre-Christmas cheer, the ASX 200 rising 0.55%, and the All Ordinaries by 0.65%.

European investors may cautiously dip their toes back in the water, assuming US index futures maintain their gains. However, with the omicron situation darkening in the UK, and on the continent, by the day, I am not expecting much of a rally, if any.

US Dollar is modestly lower.

The dollar index fell slightly overnight as some profit-taking of Friday’s monster US Dollar rally set in as the new wires stayed relatively quiet. The dollar index fell 0.17% to 96.50, edging lower to 96.46 in sedate Asian trading. I expect the chop-fest to continue, with a move through either 96.00 or 97.00 indicating the US Dollars next directional move.

EUR/USD staged a modest technical recovery, rising to 1.1285 by this morning, with 1.1200 to 1.1350 likely to contain this week. GBP/USD has continued falling to 1.3215 today as its virus situation and political turmoil weigh. Failure of 1.3150 will signal a potential test of 1.3000. With US yields hardly moved overnight, USD/JPY remains marooned at 113.70, bring a good book to read.

As I stated above, the sentiment indicating three amigos, the CAD, AUD and NZD, did not rally on US Dollar weakness overnight elsewhere. That suggests that markets remain vulnerable to more virus headlines and that dips in the US Dollar may be shallow.

Asian currencies have had another mixed performance. The Yuan continues to strengthen despite weaker fixes from the PBOC. The Indian Rupee notably, gained some respite on US Dollar weakness. The firm Chinese Yuan and diminishing holiday season liquidity are dampening activity in the regional Asia FX space, and I expect range trading to dominate over the rest of the week.

Headless chickens rule oil markets.

Brent crude and WTI finished on moderately lower overnight, but that belied the aggressive intraday price action with both contracts falling over $3.0 a barrel intraday. The intraday capitulation reversed leaving Brent crude 1.20% lower at $72.10, and WTI 1.60% lower at $69.20 a barrel. In Asia, the slight rebound in sentiment has seen both contracts add 10 cents a barrel.

Although the short-term outlook for oil is being sunk by negative virus and US legislative sentiment, we should not discount OPEC+ from the equation. OPEC+ left their last meeting open precisely to manage this type of situation. If Brent crude continues to head south from here, I wouldn’t discount OPEC+ stepping in to roll back their recent production increases. Given that compliance is over 100%, this would process would be easy to achieve right now.

Brent crude has resistance at $72.50 and then the 200-DMA at $73.20 a barrel. Support is at $69.00 a barrel. WTI has resistance at $69.40 and then the 200-DMA at $70.50 a barrel. Support lies at $66.00 a barrel.

Gold range trade continues.

Gold edged lower overnight as momentum once again faded, leaving the yellow metal 0.40% lower at $1790.50 an ounce. In Asia, the recovery in sentiment has lifted it 0.10% higher to $1792.30 an ounce.

Gold’s attempts to stage a meaningful recovery continue to disappoint, with traders cutting long positions at the very first sign of trouble intra-day. Gold lacks the momentum, one way or another, to sustain a directional move up or down. Likely, gold will remain a forgotten asset class and face another week of choppy range trading.

Gold has formed a rough double top around the $1815.00 region which will present a formidable barrier t$1840.00.  Support lies at $1790.00, followed by $1780.00 an ounce. $1790.00 to $1815.00 could well be the range for the week.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Markets

A Wild 24 Hours

Stock markets aren’t faring too badly on Thursday, which is arguably surprising considering how eventful the last 24 hours have been.

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

Stock markets aren’t faring too badly on Thursday, which is arguably surprising considering how eventful the last 24 hours have been.

It’s hard to know where to start on a day like today. While the Fed’s hawkish rate hike is probably the dominant driver in the broader markets, the dangerous nuclear threats from the Kremlin are causing quite a stir and then there’s the small matter of Japan’s first FX intervention in 24 years which has triggered some huge moves in the yen.

Fed resists the urge

The Fed’s decision to hike by 75 basis points, despite the obvious temptation to opt for a full percentage point, was probably sensible given the scale of tightening we’ve already seen this year. It now expects to go further with rates, with markets pricing in another 125 basis points this year and 25 next, although as we’ve seen throughout the year, that will probably change as we get more data. In much the same way that investors got too excited by the July inflation data, it may prove to be the case that the August setback isn’t as bad as feared. In such uncertain times, overreaction is becoming the norm.

Japan finally intervenes as BoJ stands firm

The Bank of Japan is standing firm on its policy stance, despite the widening differential with the US and others. That has put considerable pressure on the currency this year, so much so that the Ministry of Finance completed its first intervention in 24 years as the yen neared 146 against the dollar. The move on the back of that was quite something and it may not be the last. Interestingly, the level the pair reached was only a little shy of that in 1998 when it last intervened, prompting further speculation about whether this is the unofficial line in the sand. That has been denied but the rate check also occurred around 145 so perhaps there is more to it than just volatility. It will be interesting to see how keen traders are to put that to the test in future.

BoE continues with conservative approach

The Bank of England raised rates by 50 basis points today; a move some may view as a little conservative under the circumstances. Of course, that’s an accusation that’s been levelled against the MPC a lot this year as it proceeded with 25 basis point hikes while others were accelerating them. But without the benefit of new economic projections and details of tomorrow’s mini-budget, the decision is that much harder as was evident from the vote split. Perhaps the BoE will regret passing up another opportunity to ramp up the pace of tightening, with inflation now seen peaking just below 11% in October and remaining in double-digits for a few months after. But with the economy potentially already in recession, the Bank – like many others – finds itself between a rock and a hard place.

CBRT keeps cutting despite soaring inflation

One central bank that isn’t concerned about the consequences of its actions is the CBRT. It cut rates by another 100 basis points today despite inflation sitting above 80% which sent the lira to a new record low against the dollar. You have to wonder what it will take for the central bank to accept that its experiment – at the worst possible time – has failed but clearly, we’re not nearly at that point. More pain to come, it seems.

Franc slides as SNB hikes by 75 basis points

The Swiss National Bank hiked rates by 75 basis points today which was at the lower end of expectations. The franc tumbled in the aftermath of the decision, slipping more than 1.5% against the dollar, euro and pound. That’s despite Chair Thomas Jordan hinting at more to come including potentially at an unscheduled meeting, should conditions warrant such action. He also suggested that FX interventions could take place as necessary – which is obviously a hot topic today – while also stressing that the stronger franc has actually aided the fight against inflation.

Oil rises amid more nuclear threats

Oil prices are rising again on Thursday after giving up initial gains a day earlier. Nuclear threats are increasingly becoming the norm from the Kremlin but energy prices remain very sensitive to them. Still, crude isn’t trading too far from the six-month lows and another round of aggressive tightening around the world today won’t be helping, as economic fears continue to weigh on demand prospects. A move below those lows – around $86-88 in Brent – could signal much gloomier economic forecasts and frustrate OPEC+ which has stated it could announce further output cuts, even before the next scheduled meeting.

Choppy trading in gold as the dollar pares gains

Gold has been quite choppy since breaking below $1,680 last week. It has fluctuated largely between here and $1,650 since then and even briefly moved above in the aftermath of the Fed decision. Even today, it slipped back towards the lower end of that range but has since recovered back to the upper end as the dollar has erased gains. Perhaps that’s a sign of a floor appearing, with the market now having priced in a large amount of tightening. I’m not convinced at this stage as the break of $1,680 appeared very significant but time will tell. A pull back in the dollar could certainly facilitate such a recovery in gold.

Bitcoin seeing strong support

Bitcoin is managing small gains after slipping earlier in the day. Once more, it slipped back towards $18,000 where it ran into some support. With the summer lows around $17,500 just a little below again, this is a huge test for bitcoin and cryptos overall. If risk appetite doesn’t improve, that support is at risk of breaking, with further support then potentially appearing around $16,000.

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Energy

D.Light Launches Solar Products in Nigeria to Transform Lives of Low-Income Individuals

D.Light has officially launched into the Nigerian market to transform the lives of low-income individuals

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Renewable Energy - Investors King

D.Light, a pioneering manufacturer and provider of Solar products has officially launched into the Nigerian market to transform the lives of low-income individuals.

This expansion into Nigeria is coming after the company secured a $50 million investment some months ago to better focus on the renewable energy space and support its expansion in Africa.

Speaking at the launch, Co-founder and President Sam Goldman said “The reality is that we are still so far from where we need to be in terms of our population and their needs.

“Hence our target market is the low-income individuals; not just the rural communities which is why the company adopts the ‘pay-as-you-go” model. Access to sustainable energy will not be possible unless we solve the funding problem.

Also speaking about D.light’s mission in Nigeria and across the globe, the chairman of the board, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika stated that the company seeks to transform the lives of a lot of people on earth, as well as bridge the gap to ensure inclusiveness for everyone.

Her words, “Our vision is to change the lives of billions of people on the face of the earth who are crying for equity to have a chance to live a better life.

“We are in Nigeria to transform Africa one community at a time, and this is our driving force she said”.

The co-founder and CEO, Ned Tozun explained that d.light has employed over 6,000 people across Africa.,

He said, “Our target is lower-income individuals. There is a sun in the village and the cities, so when we just say a rural market, it is not.

“The guy who lives in Lagos, but doesn’t have a generator shouldn’t even use a generator if he can have a solar solution. Why? Because of environmental sustainability.

“So, when you think about all the ESG matters, you will encourage more people to use alternate sources of energy rather than polluting sources of energy and that helps everywhere; whether you are in the city or the village. It is about lower income.

“What we’ve done is to think of the entire problem chain. Firstly, innovate the product. Two, how do you deliver it? Deliver it to them at the most reasonable price. Thirdly, make sure it’s affordable for them”.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Pulls Back to $91 a Barrel on Monday

Despite the strong U.S. dollar and slowing demand for crude oil, the price of the commodity pulled back on Monday during the New York trading session.

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Crude oil - Investors King

Despite the strong U.S. dollar and slowing demand for crude oil, the price of the commodity pulled back on Monday during the New York trading session.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, pulled back from $88 a barrel to $91.52 at 5:31 pm Nigerian time. While the U.S. West Texas Intermediate oil pared losses to $84.75 a barrel, up from $81.65 it traded in the early hours of the day.

The price of the commodity traded lower in the early hours of the day on concerns that central banks will raise interest rates to curb inflationary pressures, a move expected to further hurt demand for crude oil and support the U.S. Dollar’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

“Ideas that continued rate increases will slow world crude demand and keep upward pressure on the U.S. Dollar is triggering long liquidation in both crude and natural gas this morning,” said Dennis Kissler, senior vice president of trading at BOK Financial.

While the pullback may not last given a series of factors impacting the outlook of the commodity, supply remained tight and will continue to dictate prices for the remaining part of the year, especially with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, known as OPEC+ still struggling to up production.

The cartel fell short in August, missing its target by 3.583 million barrels per day (mbpd) following a 2.892 mbpd missed in July.

“The market still has the start of European sanctions on Russian oil hanging over it. As supply is disrupted in early December, the market is unlikely to see any quick response from U.S. producers,” ANZ analysts said.

However, the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China, the largest importer of the commodity, may help bolster prices.

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