Asian markets on the rise on restored trade optimism

15 November, 2019

Most Asian equities and currencies are in the green after another record close for the S&P 500, as White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow teased markets saying that the US and China are “getting close” to a trade deal and that it’s “coming down to the short strokes”. Although investors have taken some risk off the table in recent days, the gains seen in safe haven assets appear to be contained for the time being. Gold’s latest climb was capped at $1475, US 10-year Treasury yields bounced off the 1.80 mark, while the Japanese Yen strengthened to 108.24 versus the US Dollar before giving up some of its advances.

While waiting for more details on the highly-anticipated “phase one” trade deal, investors were served with another round of downcast economic data out of the US, Europe, and Asia. The dismal figures are yet another reminder to markets about the sheer importance of a US-China trade deal to the global economic outlook; that deal is essential to reviving hopes of a global economic recovery. After all, investors’ patience has its limits, and cracks had already begun to show in risk sentiment.

US retail sales print in focus as Dollar eases

The Dollar index has eased below the 98.2 mark, even as Fed chair Jerome Powell touted the merits of the US economy before Congress, describing it as a “star” performer. Powell’s comments came as investors were fed with US economic data showing higher-than-expected producer prices and jobless claims.

Still, the broader narrative surrounding the world’s largest economy is one of its resilience, despite the ongoing slowdown. A healthy jobs market that’s supportive of domestic consumption, amid subdued inflation, suggests that the Fed is likely to keep US interest rates at current levels for the foreseeable future. With that context in mind, the upcoming October US retail sales figures will serve as an important barometer on the health of the US economy, where anything short of the expected rebound from September’s surprise contraction could deflate the Dollar further.

Brent reverses decline on trade optimism

Oil prices are reversing some measure of recent losses, as traders continue to pin their hopes on a US-China trade deal being sealed by year-end. Rising US stockpiles, encouraged by record shale output, suggest that the world will see excess Oil supplies going into 2020, with such prospects having dampened Oil prices. Even the longer-term outlook doesn’t bode well for Oil bulls, with the IEA recently predicting that global Oil demand will peak by 2030.

Still, over the near-term, Oil prices are like a coiled spring waiting to be sprung by concrete details pertaining to the “phase one” trade deal. As a finalised agreement becomes likelier, Brent futures is expected to be set on a path above $65/bbl.

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