US non-manufacturing ISM at 52.6 disappointed the market again, after the manufacturing ISM miss on Tuesday. The service employment index dropped to 50.4, adding to concerns about Friday's payrolls report. While the fall is broadly in line with market expectations, a quicker slowing in economic activity will put another brick in the Fed's wall of worries about business confidence and investment and may trigger a significant policy response.
It was quite a bounce on the S&P 500 after having dropped 35 points on the lacklustre ISM print, and it's put all that and more back on again to trade higher on the day.
Is bad news good news still? Indeed, that does appear to be the case after the markets fully priced in a Fed rate cut in October and price in December suggesting that it’s monetary policy that continues to remain one of the essential drivers of investor sentiment.
On FX, the signal from the data is somewhat ambiguous; the weaker US growth could hurt USD against the safe havens such as JPY, but not against ASEAN EM and commodity exporter currencies. As such, an argument could be made that USDJPY is trading too high while USDKRW, the best proxy to express a weaker global growth bias, is still trading too low. With that said, today could be more about pre-NFP housekeeping and pre-weekend position squaring so Asia Forex traders may have less of an axe to grind.
However, sentiment remains weak and any weakness will be seized upon as further examples of a slowdown or recession, but keep in mind the downward revision from previous high watermarks could be the most eye-catching and have been a consistent feature of the “establishment’s” critical employment report, the US Non-Farm Payroll.
Trade War Carousel
The US-China trade meeting remains the critical unknown variable, and perhaps the most prominent toggle for risk sentiment.
The market continues to hope for the best while preparing for the worst: that, at a minimum, the economic carnage inflicted by the US-China trade war will be enough to bring to fruition a partial trade deal. Where there's a will there’s a way and, as such, hope springs eternal.
While the market is still a bit shaky from the US tariffs on EU products on the back of the Airbus row, investors can take some comfort that one of the US's biggest trading partners Japan announced today that a US-Japan trade deal is set to take effect in January
The EU tariffs are set to take effect October 18 which gives both sides a small window to negotiate. But with President Trump holding back on implementing tariffs on EU automobiles, sadly for Germany and their vast automotive export complex the worst might be yet to come as the US tariff carousel moves into to full motion across "the pond".
Concerns about global oil demand are rising, and next week’s US-China trade talks, the significant X factor, will be particularly important, given the sharp drop in the oil price over the last week. However, sentiment remains weak and any economic weakness will be seized upon by fast money traders suggesting the near term catalysts will likely be a function of oil demand.
However, Saudi Arabia’s quick response to the terrorist attack suggests they’ve used up much of their spare capacity cushion to satisfy international export demands and does leave global supplies a tad vulnerable to additional disruptions.
Now we have a sudden eruption of protest in Iraq, and the ensuing clampdown by security forces have brought some of this supply and geopolitical risk back into play. While the populist protests have not spread to Iraq’s primary oil infrastructure in and around Basra, there’s no guarantee that the anti-corruption fervour won’t next set sights on Iraq oil fields.
Gold punched above the USD1,505/oz on growth US economic concerns which implies lower US interest rates, and that’s precisely what triggered the surge in Gold demand. In this context, Gold should remain well supported.
Gold traded in a narrow range in Asia and Europe yesterday but popped higher in early US action. The catalyst was disappointing US economic data which intensified concerns of a slowdown.
However, profit-taking was swift when the US equity markets rebounded just as quickly. After this week’s shell-shocking market purge, gold traders may be just as content to "take the money and run" on rallies, thinking the weak US data and Fed comments are good short term impulses but remain incredibly cautious about a possible interim US-China trade deal.
However, one look at the resilient US equity market might be enough for investors to keep near term long gold positions light.
Physical demand remains weak, suggesting these recent up and down moves are more about leveraging paper gold impulse which sadly can quickly trigger takedowns that may scare "weak hands" out of their positions.
Despite the lousy EU data and the revision lower on the latest round of EU services PMI's, the EURUSD remains supported by negative risk sentiment. However, traders appear content paying the current short-term Euro range goalposts 1.0975-1.1075 as it might be too early to call for full bore dollar weakness.
Although the Fed easing narrative is a primary condition for dollar weakness, a 25-basis cut in October, and even a follow-up cut in December, might not lessen the USD yield advantage significantly as other Central Banks could quickly follow suit.
So, until there's evidence of the EU economic data improving, traders may still prefer selling EURUSD on moves to 1.1075-1.1100, but on a break above 1.1125-50, that strategy might then come into question.
Much is riding on tonight’s NFP report so saddle up: it could be a busy night for the Forex cowboys.
The market remains happy to sell USDJPY on rallies given the faltering equity markets. However, since the market has been selling USDJPY all week, traders might be content buying on dips ahead of the US employment report to improve their average on short position trade.
Commodity currencies may continue to fare poorly if oil prices continue to slide, which suggests both the CAD may continue to struggle.
Traders have been booking some profit in long USDAsia positions with the USD trading broadly weaker vs G-10 as the US economy is showing signs of faltering. However, nascent signs of a more fragile US economy are no cause for celebration for local economies which have massive export exposure into the US markets.
Read more market views from Team AxiTrader: https://www.axitrader.com/int/market-news-blog/.
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Yields are up, but it was a tale of two divergent tapes in US equity markets; Oil heads lower as dollar strengthens; Gold takes the express elevator down