Asian stocks, currencies mixed

15 October, 2019

Asian stocks and currencies are mixed, as the post-trade truce bounce is losing steam. Investors are now weighing up their next steps after news of the “very substantial” phase one deal, as touted by US President Donald Trump. According to media reports, China doesn’t yet share the same optimism over an imminent trade agreement, with potentially more trade talks slated for the end of October.

The latest twist in the US-China trade conflict is yet another reminder to investors not to get caught up in the hype. Trying to bridge the conflicting interests between the world’s two largest economies is a gargantuan task; an undertaking that has already proven to be protracted and complicated. Considering that Gold is now edging back towards $1500 while 10-year US Treasury yields have fallen below the psychological 1.70 level, investors appear to be bracing themselves for the risk that the current pause in the US-China trade conflict could yet see another state of heightened tensions.

Brent struggling as US-China trade deal optimism fades

Brent’s stay above $60/bbl proved short-lived, with futures having declined 2.9 percent so far this week. Markets have been unwilling to  assign a geopolitical-risk premium to Oil prices, as demand-side fears continue to weigh on the global outlook.

Prices remain primarily swayed by the shifting sands of US-China trade tensions, which have already prompted multiple downward revisions to global growth and demand for Oil. Over the near-term, should the EIA data on Thursday confirm market expectations of a fifth weekly increase in US crude inventories, that could cause prices to slip further. The IMF’s world economic outlook, to be released today, is expected to add to the downcast narrative, as trade tensions continue to take their toll on the global economy.

EU leaders’ summit immediate hurdle for Brexit deal

GBPUSD is trading above the 1.26 level at the time of writing, even as the European Union Presidency tempered expectations that a Brexit deal can be struck prior to the upcoming EU leaders’ summit suggesting that Brexit talks may have to be extended.

It remains to be seen whether UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will adhere to the Benn Act, which states that he must seek a Brexit extension if a deal is not achieved by this Saturday. A request for a Brexit extension would be a major blow to PM Johnson’s credibility, having repeatedly insisted that Brexit must happen by the October 31 deadline. Given such a context, with EU leaders and Westminster set to have their say on PM Johnson’s Brexit ambitions, Sterling traders could see a tumultuous build-up into the EU summit Thursday and Friday.

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