Trade truce provides boost to risk

3 December, 2018

Just a few days after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell unexpectedly signaled that the Federal Reserve is turning dovish, investors received further positive news over the weekend after a temporary ceasefire between Washington and Beijing regarding trade tensions was announced after the G-20 summit in Argentina.

The two-hour dinner between senior authorities from both the United States and China, including President Trump and President Xi, that led to the announcement of a temporary trade truce was of greater importance than the G-20 communique which stated that the WTO needs to be reformed to improve its function. What was delivered over the dinner was not a breakthrough, neither a long-term solution for the ongoing trade war between the largest two economies, but a 90-day window to improve relations. Introduction of new tariffs are now shelved, and trade talks will intensify over the next three months. This outcome seems to be an optimistic one from the two leaders and more than what was priced into markets beforehand, meaning that this is enough to boost sentiment and risk-on trade.

Chinese stocks rose more than 3% and the S&P 500 futures surged 1.7% at the time of writing. While bulls seem to be well in control for now, investors need to know that what was achieved is only a short-term relief to markets. Whether this will be translated into longer-term advances depends on the path of negotiations over the next three months. For now, one obstacle has been removed, but all longer-term risks remain there. 

Canada joins Saudi Arabia and Russia in managing production


The risk-on rally sent Brent Oil above $62 early Monday. The U.S.-China trade truce is not the only source of support for prices, but signals of another production cut from Russia and Saudi Arabia seem to be the key factor. OPEC’s official meeting will be held on Wednesday and markets are expecting to see a substantial production cut after Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country’s cooperation on Oil supplies with Saudi Arabia would continue. Another surprising announcement came from the government of Alberta on Sunday stating a cut of 325,000 barrels a day for three months starting in 2019. Given this combination of factors, Oil prices are likely to have bottomed out for 2018, but a confirmation is needed when OPEC and non-OPEC members meet in Vienna on December 6.

Dollar heads south


The demand for riskier assets sent the Dollar lower against most developed and emerging market currencies. The Dollar index fell back below 97 with commodity currencies AUD and CAD being the best performing ones. The Chinese Yuan also broke a three-week trading range to trade 0.8% higher against the Greenback. This relief rally may continue for the next couple of days, unless surprising negative news arises.


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