MARKETS: Asia recoils on Trump’s harsh tone on US-China trade imbalance

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By Han Tan, Market Analyst at FXTM

Asian equities are following US stocks lower, after US President Donald Trump once again adopted a confrontational tone in addressing the US-China trade imbalance. Such rhetoric fuels market caution, adding to the sense that a US-China trade deal remains far from imminent, even as negotiations are underway in Shanghai.


The tepid prospects of a US-China trade deal in the near term have prevented meaningful gains in riskier assets, while supporting safe haven assets such as Gold, the Japanese Yen, and US Treasuries.

 

Dollar Index swats away naysayers ahead of Fed decision

 

Despite the dovish tones out of the Federal Reserve, the Dollar Index (DXY) has swatted its naysayers aside, as it remains above the 98 psychological level early on Wednesday. With the crucial Fed decision due overnight, markets are betting that US interest rates will not be lowered by more than 25 basis points.

Investors around the world will be awaiting eagerly whether the Federal Reserve will affirm market expectations and deliver its first rate cut in a decade, which should also set the tone for policy easing out of other major central banks. The Dollar’s gains have been reinforced by US economic fundamentals, given the still healthy consumer spending levels while inflation is ticking towards the Fed’s 2% target. Should the Fed deem it sufficient to just incur one “insurance” rate cut, which has been fully priced in by the markets, that could help justify the Dollar’s recent advances.

 

Brexit impasse adds to Sterling’s slippery slope

 

Although the Pound managed to bounce off the 1.212 support level against the US Dollar early Wednesday, the weakening bias for GBPUSD remains clear amid intensifying concerns over a no-deal Brexit. With just three months remaining before the October 31 deadline, the hardline stance employed by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has done little to assuage concerns that the UK will avoid crashing out of the EU without a deal.

The backdrop of deteriorating global growth may exacerbate the projected economic turmoil that comes with a hard Brexit. Such a worst-case scenario could well send the Pound below the 1.20 level against the Greenback. The Pound’s only hope for a sustained climb is for either PM Johnson or EU officials to creak open the door towards renegotiating the Brexit deal, although such a scenario appears elusive at the moment.

 

Gold, Oil climb despite Dollar’s never-say-die stance

 

Gold and Oil prices have advanced despite the Dollar’s resilience, with Bullion trading above $1430, while Brent futures have breached $65/bbl for the first time in two weeks. Gold prices could see more upside in the near term, should markets look past the Fed and focus on the waning global growth momentum, especially considering that revived US-China trade talks have so far yielded naught.

Oil bulls can take heart from incoming monetary policy stimulus that should help shore up global economic activity and in turn support demand for Oil. Still, the risk remains for Oil to unwind recent gains should the support from global central bankers be deemed insufficient in staving off economic headwinds.

 

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