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Investors awaiting negotiations outcome


14 February 2019

Investors in Asia are sitting on the sidelines as they cautiously await the outcome of high-level trade talks between the U.S. and China. With the earnings season almost coming to an end, asset prices will begin to fluctuate on daily news headlines. So far, it seems we have more positive than negative news which may continue to support equities.

President Donald Trump is willing to extend the trade deal deadline if the two parties seem to be coming closer to a resolution. A good outcome from the expected meeting on Friday between China’s President Xi Jinping and his counterparts U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer may further prolong the rally in global equities.

Mr. Trump also intends to sign a U.S.-Mexico border security deal despite the fact he’s not happy with it. Any news on avoiding another shutdown is welcomed by the markets.

On the data front, U.S. consumer prices remained steady for a third straight month in January. Stable prices have led y-o-y CPI to grow at its slowest pace in one and a half years suggesting that the Fed may keep interest rates on hold for some time if the economic outlook deteriorates further. However, the Dollar reacted positively to the data, given that when excluding the volatile components such as food and energy, the core-CPI stood at 2.2%. Such information may be conflicting in a sense that headline inflation doesn’t require further tightening in monetary policy, while core inflation indicates that we cannot rule out further hikes later this year.

Commodity currencies were the main beneficiaries of stronger than expected Chinese data earlier today. Chinese exports rebounded sharply in January rising 9.1% y-o-y beating consensus of a 3.2% decline by a wide margin.  Imports, while dropping by 1.5%, also showed much better than the expected 10% decline. The Australian Dollar and New Zealand Dollar were up 0.5% at the time of writing.

The Euro continued to struggle despite the improved appetite to risk. The single currency tested 1.1249 earlier today on the back of a series of disappointing data releases and political uncertainty. The latest political drama comes from Spain, which is heading into a snap election following a budget defeat. If a right-wing coalition takes over, expect to see more troubles ahead in the Eurozone. Other factors that contributed to Euro weakness include the continued plummeting of German Bond Yields. All maturities below 10-years are currently in negative territory, while 10-year yields are just 12 basis points above the zero line, compared to 2.7% in the U.S. All eyes are going to be on German GDP today to see if the country manages to escape a technical recession. Meanwhile, the Eurozone economy is expected to have grown 0.2% in Q4.

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