Asian stocks were under renewed selling pressure this morning as global trade concerns and chaos across emerging markets weighed on risk appetite. Global trade developments have certainly placed investors on an emotional roller-coaster ride this week with the initial optimism over NAFTA talks outweighed by U.S.-China concerns. Market sentiment is likely to remain cautious, especially after President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organisation.
Pound bulls hoping to see a big beat on the July inflation numbers were left disappointed, as the data merely met expectations. Although off its lows, sterling remained under pressure after breaking the $1.27 handle overnight following yesterday’s news of weaker-than-expected growth in wages, and amid ongoing concerns over a no-deal Brexit outcome.
After a sharp slide, the pound has finally caught a bid today. While it is too early to suggest that a low has been hit, today’s rebound is certainly a welcome relief for the pound bulls. The British pound/U.S. dollar (GBP/USD) currency pair has ended a run of five consecutive losses, the GBP/JPY is up after falling six days in a row, while the euro/British pound (EUR/GBP) is back below 0.90 after a sharp four-day rally.
As the Brexit-hit pound continues to get a hammering, the FTSE is still going strong despite an otherwise lackluster day in the stock markets. The GBP/USD broke below the 1.29 handle to reach its lowest level since last August, while the EUR/GBP hit a fresh high for the year at 0.90 and the GBP/JPY dropped below the May low of 143.20, as investors fretted over the prospects of a no-deal Brexit. The weakness of the pound may be the reason why the FTSE is trading higher.
It’s been a relatively quiet day for many major currencies today, with a dollop of weakness in the Canadian dollar and a touch of strength in the Australian dollar after last night’s RBA meeting the most notable moves so far. While British pound/U.S. dollar (GBP/USD) currency pair has been essentially flat on the day, there are a couple of major events coming up on Friday that could shake the pair from its top.
Fears of a full-blown trade war between the world’s two biggest economies are set to intensify after the Trump Administration announced another round of tariffs on Chinese products on Tuesday. In a move that is likely to cause the further deterioration of US-China trade relations, the United States will begin imposing 25% tariffs on $16 billion of Chinese imports starting from Aug. 23. With Beijing expected to fight back by targeting $16 billion worth of U.S. goods with equal tariffs, the US-China trade saga could get even messier.
Asian stocks rallied on Tuesday, following a surge on Wall Street that sent the S&P 500 to a near all-time high and the Cboe’s Volatility Index to its lowest level since late January. The strong earnings season has been the key factor lifting U.S. stocks. With 24.1% earnings growth and more than 79% of S&P 500 companies managing to beat profit forecasts it looks to be the best earning season in recent history.
After a five-day losing streak, the euro/U.S. dollar (EUR/USD) currency pair has finally – at least for the time being – put an end to its recent downward trend and was climbing back towards the 1.16 handle. Other major euro crosses were also trading higher, suggesting it was not just the dollar weakness that had helped to underpin the EUR/USD.
The dollar has remained bid against most currencies post-Friday’s U.S. jobs report. The greenback rose on Friday in reaction to the mixed-bag nonfarm payrolls report which showed a weaker-than-expected headline number, but that was offset by positive revisions to the previous reports and a decent but expected rise in average hourly earnings figure.
Trade concerns between the world’s largest two economies returned to haunt markets on Thursday after President Trump ordered his administration to consider more than doubling previously proposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The new proposed tariffs of 25% dragged Asian equities heavily during morning trade, sending the Hang Seng Index to its lowest level since September 2017.