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Omicron Turns From Bad Santa To Good Santa



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

A cocktail containing better US Q3 GDP data, along with positive omicron headlines further inoculated financial markets against a year-end sell-off overnight. Mostly, it was Scottish and Imperial College London’s studies that back up preliminary South African data, suggesting that omicron is far more contagious than delta, but much less likely to put you in hospital. Of course, with case numbers exploding across the world, the sheer volume of omicron cases means that for health systems, omicron could mathematically and statistically be a zero-sum game versus omicron.

Markets don’t concern themselves with these sorts of “slapping you in the face” details if the headlines agree with the narrative that they want to hear. Unsurprisingly in New York, therefore, equities powered higher along with oil, and the US Dollar staged a sharp retreat as defensive positioning was unwound, although the bond market was sharply unchanged. So, markets and investors will get their “Santa/Christmas rally” by the looks of it. On a personal level, it is the only question I have been asked all week. It has become so annoying that I have contemplated breaking wrapped Christmas presents and taking scissors to soft toys.

From here, we are probably going to need some more omicron headlines along the lines of hospitalisations and deaths soar with total cases to turn the markets from their perpetual, central bank QE-induced perpetual buy-the-dip in everything course. The data calendar in the US sees jobless claims, durable goods and personal spending and income released tonight, the last major dataset to be released globally for this year. It would take a serious negative divergence by the data to upset the applecart of bulls, and likely only temporarily.

Thereafter, we will be left to the tender mercies of omicron headlines until the new year, and even that potency now appears to be fading. Only Vladimir Putin deciding to holiday over the Ukrainian border changes that narrative. Think much lower equities, lower everything in Europe, $150 oil, a much higher Dollar and Swiss Franc with plunging treasury yields. But I don’t want to be the Grinch-ski who stole Christmas.

In Asia, the calendar today is dead with only Singapore Inflation for November to relieve the monotony. Higher than expected prints could put another tightening by the MAS back on the table and see local equity weakness. Otherwise, we are in a hurry-up-and-wait mode in Asia today.

Asian equities drift higher on sympathy trade.

Overnight, the buy-the-dip FOMO gnomes had another day in the sun on Wall Street, thanks to decent US GDP data and indications that omicron is less symptomatically aggressive. Record highs were in sight once again as the S&P 500 jumped 1.02%, the Nasdaq powered 1.18% higher, and the Dow Jones gained a healthy 0.74%. In Asia, futures on all three have maintained their gains, drifting around 0.10% higher today.

The overnight rally on Wall Street has dragged seemingly still reluctant markets in Asia higher today as well, with regional bourses still refusing to fully buy into the hype from the US. The Nikkei 225 is 0.10% higher, despite an upward revision to Japan’s 2022 GDP forecast by the government. South Korea’s Kospi is 0.35% higher.

In China, a lockdown of the city of Xian to combat a virus outbreak has had no noticeable impact on local equity markets, which are recording modest gains. The Shanghai Composite and CSI 300 have gained 0.20%. Hong Kong, meanwhile, has posted a somewhat healthier gain of 0.45%.

Singapore has shrugged of VTL restrictions to gain 0.25%, with Kuala Lumpur rising by 0.40%, and Taipei gaining 0.60%. Jakarta is 0.35% higher with Bangkok rising by 0.65% and Manila jumping 1.10% higher. Australian markets have also risen in sympathy, the ASX 200 and All Ordinaries gaining 0.35%.

That all set the scene for a modest rally in European markets this afternoon, although the UK’s CBI Monthly Growth Indicator, and UK Car Production released this morning, both disappointed and may cap sentiment in London this afternoon. It would take some huge downside misses from the US data dump this evening to unsettle what appears to be an inevitable Santa rally on Wall Street into the end of the week.

US Dollar falls hard on surging virus sentiment.

The US Dollar was in full retreat overnight, mostly due to reports that omicron presents fewer hospitalisation risks. That saw sentiment swing even more strongly back to the global recovery trade and saw the dollar index collapse by 0.37% to 96.12, easing still more in Asia to 96.03. I am adjusting my downside support level to 95.85 on the dollar index, where it has traced out a triple bottom. A daily close under 95.85 sets up a deeper US Dollar correction, potentially into January, assuming omicron remains a storm in a teacup in the minds of the investors globally.

EUR/USD rallied 0.40% to 1.1340 overnight, but still faces resistance above 1.1360. Only a move above 1.1400 suggests a medium-term low could be in place. GBP/USD shrugged on weaker Q3 GDP to leap 0.66% to 1.3350 after the US Prime Minster appeared to rule out more virus restrictions, despite cases hitting 100,000 per day yesterday. GBP/USD needs to recapture 1.3400 to signal a medium-term low. USD/JPY remains at 114.15 today, with no movement in US bond yields overnight meaning no movement in the currency pair.

The three risk-sentiment amigos, the CAD, AUD, and NZD all booked strong gains overnight between 0.65% for the CAD, and 0.85% for AUD. A rise above 0.7250 for AUD/USD and 0.6850 from NZD/USD will signal further rallies into the new year. USD/CAD is at 1.2850 this morning and needs to close below 1.2750 to signal the same.

Asian currencies despite a much weaker fixing once again from the PBOC for the Yuan versus the US Dollar. It highlights the challenges China has to weaken the Yuan, without incurring the ire of Washington DC, as their closed border means recycled Chinese offshore profits provide an underlying bid to the Yuan. Asian currencies rose on improving sentiment and a strong Yuan ignoring the PBOC signals, continues to provide support during Asian trading hours.

Another big rally for oil.

The omicron is not-as-bad-as-we-thought trade continued to push oil markets higher overnight, thanks to more studies seemingly confirming that thesis. A sharp drawdown in official US Crude Inventories, following the API drop the day before, further gave the fast-money gnomes an excuse to pile back into long positions.

Brent crude leapt 2.1% higher to $75.55 a barrel where it remains in Asia. WTI rallied by an impressive 2.45% to $73.00 a barrel, where it remains in Asia. Brent crude has carved through resistance at $74.45 which becomes initial support, with resistance at 76.90 a barrel, the 100-day moving average. (DMA) WTI is eroding resistance between $73.00 and $73.20 as we speak, which opens further gains to $74.10 initially, its 100-DMA. Support lies at $70.60 and then $70.00 a barrel.

The threat of OPEC+ action has receded dramatically now that Brent crude is back above $75.00 a barrel, with $80.00 a barrel being the sweet spot for the grouping, I believe. Oil’s direction is entirely reliant on omicron headlines, and as long as they stay more contagious but less virulent, oil’s rally is likely to continue, with intra-day ranges exacerbated by thin liquidity.

Gold rallies on weaker US Dollar.

Gold rallied overnight in a mechanical response to a much weaker US Dollar on currency markets. Gold finished 0.80% higher at $1803.60, with the range flattered by lower than average trading volumes. In Asia, gold has added another 0.10% to $1805.40 an ounce.

Gold’s attempts to stage a meaningful recovery remain unconvincing, 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. That said, gold could extend its gains into the end of the weak if growth sentiment remains ascendant.

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

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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.



Traders Wall Street

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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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



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.



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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