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Election And Whats Happening In The Markets

One of the most anticipated days for the markets, the Election has approached us in the midst of one of the most turbulent years in the past decade. It is important to note the critical factors that the markets look for and a general overview of the markets.

Certainty is the leading factor the markets are looking for

Earlier today, as Biden strongly lead the race, commodity and equity markets were up firmly as the likelihood of a contested election faded away. However, with Trump planning to contest the election results alongside Trump claiming that the Democrats are stealing the Election by allowing votes to be continued after the ballots close, a contested election has come back into question. Markets started to retreat, with the Dow Jones pushing lower.

Sells on the indices as uncertainty spiked. NASDAQ in Blue, Dow Jones in Orange

There are no consistent signals showing consensus in the Market

As predicted, volatility has been rocking the futures market today. Particularly with Gold, a commodity that was expected to do relatively well amidst the volatility has taken on an equity-like behavior instead of being a "save haven."

Gold swingin'.

Equity markets have swung back and forth, with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones being up / down 1% during the day. A little bit more consistent, the NASDAQ has been up above 2% for most of the day as many investors and traders retreat to tech stocks as a "defensive" play. With that said, U.S. futures near the tail end of the night grinded lower with European equities trading in the negative territory.

Another consistent player in the Market has been the U.S. dollar, as investors and traders sell positions to hold the U.S. It has rallied on risk-off trades. However, it has remained relatively flat. If you take a look at the cable, it essentially mirrors the dollar index.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall

It's going to be a tight race

The Democrats hope for a blue sweep have all but gone as Donald Trump clinches Florida and Ohio, battleground states that Biden hoped to win. Fabiana Fedeli, global head of fundamental equities at Robeco, said that "The blue wave trade has been going on since summer and has built up more recently, and I would expect to unravel now." However, she does warn that trading the outcome "makes no sense."

Remember, its not about total votes - its about the electoral votes.

We can clearly state that we do not know what's going to happen in the next couple of hours. However, as all is said and done, markets should return back to a relative normal. Stay put. Stay safe and Trade safe.

Week ahead – United States Election!

With over 93 Million US Citizens voting early, surpassing two-thirds of all 2016 and consisting of 43% of registered voters, the United States election is finally two days away this week ahead. Many regard this as one of the most important Presidential Elections in history, possibly changing society's fabric in the United States for the foreseeable future.

Although the Presidential Election will probably get most of the attention, this week continues to be eventful with a lot of data being released. Here is your week ahead.

Dates are in NZDT.

FiveThirtyEight predicts in 20 out of 22 scenarios Biden will win the Presidency

Monday, 2nd November – US ISM Manufacturing

A key point in Trump's campaign in 2016 was his promise to bring jobs back to America. However, an amended NAFTA agreement, alongside many more amendments to foreign policy, has lost many manufacturing jobs. For example, over one in four Michigan manufacturing jobs have been lost since the NAFTA agreement amendment.

The Coronavirus has just brought more pain to the sector, with an estimated 381,000 manufacturing workers in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were laid off or furloughed – with all, but one (Pennsylvania) states being in the midwestern part of the USA. These states were one of the key reasons why Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

As states slowly open up, the Coronavirus continues to run rampant, affecting workers employed in the manufacturing sector. Unlike the tech and finance sector, manufacturers can not work from home. With that said, the US's ISM is predicting to increase slightly from last month to 55.6 this week ahead, as suppose to 55.4 last month.

Tuesday, 3rd November and Wednesday, 4th November – RBA Interest Rate decision and Australian Retail Sales

Australia reached a positive milestone yesterday – zero community transmission. The country has a long road to recovery ahead of them, and the Reserve Bank of Australia acknowledges that. With dovish tones in the previous RBA minutes, analysts predict a 150 point basis cut, from 0.25% to 0.1% tomorrow. However, Insight Manager at Finder, Graham Cooke believes that further cuts will not make dramatic changes to the finances of ordinary Australians, stating that "a further 10-15 point basis cut us unlikely to have much of an impact on the economy –however, our experts seem to think that the RBA is in "every little bit helps" mode."

Furthermore, Retail Sales will also be released a day after the decision. Analysts predict a further 1.5% decline in Retail Sales as the Coronavirus continues to take a longer-term toll on employment.

Wednesday, 4th November – US Presidential Election.

The event everyone and I mean everyone, including your mother, will be watching.

There is nothing much to say about this other than to buckle in. Many polls state that Biden is likely to win. FiveThirtyEight predicts that in 20 out of 22 scenarios, Biden is stated to win. Other polls from firms such as RealClearPolitics see Biden leading over 9%.

Judging by the polls, the only way Trump can win is if he wins all of the swing states. The popular vote in NYC and California have Biden to win anyways, which means the popular vote will be absorbed within the Electoral college (tl:dr, the RealClearPolitics poll may be closer than is stated).

However, the polls showed Hillary winning in 2016. And we all know what happened then.

Friday, 5th November – Bank of England Interest Rate Decision

The UK struggling with lackluster leadership

The UK has finally imposed a stricter lockdown (however, not a full lockdown) on citizens for one month, with analysts predicting that the lockdown may be extended further to allow the UK to have their Christmas not under lockdown. The Bank of England is set to inject over 100 Million pounds buying back bonds to fight the second wave.

However, this may not be enough, with analysts at HSBC predicting that the BoE's bond-buying regimes are "running out of room," which may leave the central bank with no choice but to implement negative rates. Governor of the Bank of England, Andre Bailey, has not ruled negatives rates but has described evidence of their effectiveness as "pretty mixed" and that negative rates might be most effective when an economy is in a recovery phase for the economy to take full advantage of the negative rates. Analysts predict rates to stay at 0.1%.

Saturday, 5th November – US Non-Farm Payroll

A key indicator showing how well the US economy is recovering, Non-farm payrolls is predicted to print 700,000 new jobs, up from 661,000 the month before.

This week ahead is going to be a turbulent one. Strap yourself in, and brace for the ride.

Stay safe, Trade safe. Have a good week!

US Non-Farm Payroll posts 4.8 Million Jobs in June.

United States Non-Farm Payroll posts 4.8 Million jobs in June, beating analysts' expectations of a 3 million gain. The unemployment rate also fell to 11.1% in June, forecasted at 12.5%.

Non-Farm Payroll

However, permanent job losses spike

2.1 million of the 4.8 million new jobs were created in the leisure and hospitality sector. However, permanent job losses jumped to 588,000 to 2.8 Million permanent job losses. This is the second-worst month in 20 years for permanent job losses, losing to January 2009 during the Global Financial Crisis.

This is on the back of the United States, topping 2.74 million total Coronavirus cases. Daily new cases increased to 52,600 from 47,000 yesterday. However, President Donald Trump stated that the employment numbers prove that the economy is "roaring back." Donald Trump predicts a resurgence before the November election, with no reference to the state of the Coronavirus in the United States.

The NASDAQ reached a record high, ending at 10,367, a 0.54% gain for the day. Other major indices edge higher, with the SP500 and the Dow Jones posting 0.12% and 0.41% gains, respectively. Interestingly to note, Gold also ended higher with futures ending at $1,788. This may be attributable to investors and traders understanding that the Coronavirus risks, especially in the United States, are still a big threat to the recovery of the economy. This is alongside major fiscal and monetary policies that have helped provide liquidity and elevating equity prices.

NASDAQ in Blue, SPX in Orange, Dow Jones in Teal

Equity markets post record highs and macro-environment tenses

Equity markets, specifically in the United States, have been resilient during an extreme macro environment. Inequality protests dividing the nation, political tensions rising domestically and internationally with the election approaching amongst China's power grab all amidst a pandemic which caused the greatest jobs lost in United States history. With non-farm payroll posting better than expected results over the past two months, a sense of progression in the road of recovery may cloud investors and trader's judgment. Furthermore, with the FED providing virtually unlimited support, it would be reasonable to assume that participation in this market would be met with accommodative conditions.

However, the Coronavirus is still preventing many states from opening. New York is still now allowing in-person dining –from a state that has flattened the Coronavirus curve through the relatively strict lock down. Texas just imposed a mandatory face mask requirement. Florida records its highest death rate. Permanent jobs lost in the United States are still increasing. Investors and traders need to tread carefully before investing their hard-earned dollars into these propped-up markets.

Trade safe.

GBP/USD falls on a key support after 10 day streak

GBP/USD falls to 1.2563 on the back of relative strength over the past 2 weeks. General risk sentiment fueled the rally. However, fears of a second wave abruptly stopped the rally.

With the recent safe haven characteristics, the USD has been exhibiting over the past, it is not surprising that the USD has been strengthening across the board. Pair this with little substantial news on Brexit, and the drop in the GBP/USD is substantiated.

Strength in the USD also came from Retail consumer data from the commerce department posting record numbers, jumping 17.7% in May – with analysts originally forecasting an 8.5% increase. This shows that the backbone of the US economy, the consumer, is again providing optimism for the US markets.

This is on the back of Jerome Powell testifying to congress that the US government will likely need to spend more money to ensure the US can reach a full economic recovery. However, he maintained a cautious stance about the economy. This may be advantageous for Trump, as he may quote Powell for being supportive of an $1 Trillion Infrastructure bill the President is trying to pass through congress.

GBP/USD may still be under pressure due to Brexit and second wave fears

Weakness in the GBP may be attributed to Brexit talks progressing slowly, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that the EU and the UK were “not far apart” relating to the country and the Unions relationship. The Brexit saga has been ongoing since 2016, and has pushed the GBP/USD has been ranking lower since the announcement.

Traders should watch the key psychological 1.255 level, as it may provide an entry point for a reversal.

Will Hong Kong abandon the peg against the USD?

Will Hong Kong abandon the peg against the USD? The financial hub of Asia, which connects the East to the West has been in the middle of pissing contest between the United States and China, not to mention their domestic struggle between them and China. If protests for autonomy in Hong Kong continue, and President Trump implements drastic foreign policy measures against Hong Kong, extreme capital outflows may ensue, forcing the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to abandon its peg on the U.S. dollar.

Could Donald Trump’s election woes force the Peg to break?

As the November Election edges nearer, President Donald Trump risks losing the presidency due to his mismanagement of the Coronavirus. David Rocke describes his reopening the American Economy as “gambling for resurrection.” A branch of game theory, which essentially states everything that the President is doing with regards to the Coronavirus is perfectly rational. He has two choices: He does nothing drastic, the death increase, therefore basically ensuring his loss in the election. Or he reopens the economy, maybe squashes the curve, and promotes that it was a success, giving him a higher chance of winning the election. If that doesn’t work, well, he was going to lose the election anyway. As the Jobless claims reached 41 Million yesterday, President Trump is losing the grip on the election. Desperation may be a giant risk for Hong Kong's peg.

However, there is one thing the President has full control over – foreign policy. With a China conference set tomorrow, there a high possibility given his election chances that he implements drastic sanctions against Hong Kong to please his supporters. This is alongside Secretary Pompeo announcing that “It could no longer verify Hong Kong’s autonomy from China,” which gave it special trade exceptions with the U.S. This may put upwards pressure against the Hong Kong Dollar, which is pegged against the USD as the financial instability from the sanctions may cause extreme capital outflows. However, this alone may not cause a capital outflow, nor may the capital outflow force the peg to break. Hong Kong may impose restrictions on capital outflows for the time being.

History of the Hong Kong / U.S. Dollar Peg

As the financial hub connecting the West to the East, Hong Kong teased investors with its free-flowing capital policies, with a promise of financial stability and consistency. In 1983, the currency was pegged to the USD. This was due tp Concerns regarding the future of Hong Kong after 1997, when the handover of control from the British to China was set to take place. The rate at which the Hong Kong dollar was pegged to the U.S. Dollar has changed over time, however, for the past 37 years, it has remained pegged to the U.S. currency. For the past 12 years since the Great recession, Hong Kong has flourished being the brokers between the East and the West. The pegged currency gave the country stability when it came to trade and investors.

However, history shows that pegged currencies are disastrous in extreme conditions.

This was the case in the Thai Bhat in 1997 and the Argentinian Peso in 2000. In the case of the Thai Bhat, Thailand was experiencing high levels of growth from 1992 onwards as banks loosened restrictions, causing a lending boom and inflated real estate prices. However, from 1995 onward, growth slowed, with investors increasingly worrying about the returns on their investments. This caused a massive capital outflow out of Thailand, devaluing the Thai Bhat. The government tried to prop up the currency by using its allocated $38B USD foreign reserves. However, in half a year from the start of 1997, their foreign reserves dropped 93% to $2.65B before they stopped the regime.

Thailand's Foreign Exchange Reserves from 1995-1999

The Thai Bhat subsequently depreciated against the USD, from 25 to 52 Thai Bhat per $1 USD, effectively abandoning the peg between the Bhat and the USD.

Exchange rate of the Thai Bhat against the USD

Similarly, the Argentinian Peso shared the same fate

Argentina’s government was citing the control of inflation as the reason for the currency peg. However, a multitude of socioeconomic factors such as an increase in income inequality and external shocks driving interest rates higher would see Argentina’s growing economy stall. With the Peso pegged to the USD 1:1, there was pressure for Argentina to keep the peg as most of its debt was denominated in U.S. dollars. However, restrictions on withdraws of 1000 Pesos/USD dollars pushed the sitting President, and the Minister of Economy resigned. The new finance minister imposed a new exchange rate of 1.4 to 1 U.S. dollar, however, what sealed the abandoning of the peg was when “pesification” of all the accounts in Argentina – which changed every single dollar that was in USD to Peso. This saw an increase in demand for the U.S. dollar – increasing the exchange rate from 1.4 pesos to 1 USD to around 4 Peso to 1 USD. Currently, 1 U.S. Dollar sits at 68 Argentinian Pesos. – Further reading, “Convertibility Law”

Exchange rate of the USD against the Argentinian Peso

What is the Catalyst for Hong Kong?

It will require a multitude of events to occur at the same time. The Hong Kong protests, for the most part, have been mainly domestic, with geopolitical parties watching from the sidelines. However, with China putting its foot down and enforcing national security law, the eyes of democracy have caught attention. President Trump stated that “we are not happy with China” with Larry Kudlow stating that China has made a “huge mistake” in passing the national security regarding Hong Kong. Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, assures Hong Kong citizens that the law will not undermine the freedom Hong Kong citizens face. However, she is on the side for the law passing, stating that “regrettably, the current legal system and enforcement mechanism for Hong Kong to safeguard national security [this is regarding the protests] are inadequate or even ‘defenseless.’ Despite returning to the Motherland for 23 years, Hong Kong has yet to enact laws to curb acts and activities that seriously undermine national security.”

Currently, Hong Kong’s Monetary Authority (HKMA) foreign reserve sits at around $441B U.S. dollar with Hong Kong using the Fed’s repo facility to its full advantage. The HKMA has the goal of pegging the currency between 7.75 – 7.85 HKD for 1 USD, and currently sits around the strong end of the band at 7.752 as the HKMA bolsters the strength of the HKD during the Coronavirus. This may be in anticipation of a devaluing in the currency because of the Coronavirus and domestic tensions.

Tensions are slowly picking up, putting pressure on the peg.

With the election on the horizon for Trump alongside China taking a strict stance against Hong Kong, fireworks may ensure as both sides battle it out. With Hong Kong directly in the firing line, all eyes are on what President Donald Trump imposes on Hong Kong tomorrow. The HKMA has enough foreign reserves to continue to prop up the HKD, given current circumstances. But the uncertainty with Hong Kong has finally started to settle in – not a feeling you want when your country was built on ensuring certainty and consistency within the Financial Markets. There is a chance that capital in Hong Kong talks themselves into pulling their money out of Hong Kong. If that occurs, the peg on the Hong Kong Dollar may serve the same fate as Thailand in 1997.

Risk on prevails pushing stocks higher

It is a firing start to the trading week as significant indices are in the green as risk on prevails. The SP500 reached a gain of 3%, breaching that psychological 3,000 mark. Although bears took some control near the end of the trading day, the sentiment was overall bullish.

I feel as though we have seen this repeatedly for the past 2 weeks. Restrictions on lock down are loosening, major central banks are providing unprecedented amounts of liquidity, and the backbone of the US economy, the consumer, is shopping again. However, recent economic data is disastrous; central bankers' words don't match the markets, and tensions between geopolitical parties have only gotten worse. Why has the market been so detached from real life recently?

SP500 popping off at the start of the US trading week for the past two weeks

Risk on in a low yield environment, killing institutional investors

With interest rates all around the world nearing 0%, institutional investors are grasping onto any positive yields in the market. It could also be due to an influx of all around the world retail investors "buying the dip". Another reason could be traders moving big lots taking advantage of the risk-on / risk-off dynamic. Whatever the case, it is evident that this risk on/risk on dynamic will continue to prevail in the markets if there is no vaccine.

However, there are some real markers of the economy recovering

The AUD/USD pair typically associated with risk on has been rallying in the past couple of weeks. With manufacturing across the world slowly starting up again, signs of economic activity have been showing. With summer arriving in a couple of days in the United States, a pick-up in oil demand is predicted to occur as Americans scratch the urge to take a holiday in a period where air travel still leaves a distaste in many peoples' mouths.

Tensions are rising in this risk on rally

It would be reasonable to think that in times like these, where a virus had ravaged the world out of nowhere, there would be unity and cooperation between all geopolitical powers. However, it seems like China has setting many bridges on fire lately. China against the United States, Hong Kong Taiwan, Australia – is not the sign of unity. However, it is not just China throwing hands. United States cutting ties and funding with the WHO is another example of how politics gambles with regular people's lives.

As China and Hong Kong protests start up again, concerns over the future of Hong Kong become real. 3 days ago, China's parliament said that it would impose a new national security law, with Hong Kong Citizens fear that this may be the last straw before the freedom that they have had enjoyed under colonial the United Kingdom's colonial rule. A Hong Kong expert at the Shanghai Institutes for international studies, Zhang Jian, told the Financial times that the national security law "Will reignite the protests but that's not a reason to give up [with regards to Xi's power move into Hong Kong] ".

We have yet to see an ounce of certainty in the past two weeks. Traders should be cautious and keep an eye out on any news that may fundamentally affect their trading strategy.

Andre Almeida has brilliant analysis technical on USD/CAD. You can watch it here.  

Week ahead - GDP and Inflation

Last week was a bloody week in the markets, with US equities selling off on fears that the market has been overstretched. The NASDAQ, Dow Jones, and the S&P 500 were down 4.52%, 3.66%, and 3.28%, respectively.

As we approach election season in the United States, traders should be looking out for changes in future policies which may whipsaw the market.

Investors and traders are heading into a turbulent start of the week, with Hong Kong/ China Tensions increasing as we get close to election season. This may incentivize countries like Australia and the United States to implement policy changes that many move the markets.

Leshgo! Here is your week ahead.

All dates are in NZDT.

Last week's equity selloff

Tuesday, 8th September – Japan GDP Growth Annualized

It has been a turbulent week for Japan, as total Coronavirus cases are starting to creep up amidst Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's resignation. Furthermore, Typhoon Haishen just landed, causing more disruption to an already chaotic year. Analysts predict a significant drop in GDP growth by 28.6% - Brutal, considering the Japanese economy has been in the slump in the past couple of years.

Tuesday 8th and 10th September – Euro Area GDP Growth Quarter over Quarter and ECB Interest Rate Decision.

With the European bloc having a relatively collective response regarding the pandemic, individual countries have started to release specific stimulus plans. For example, France revealed a 100 billion Euro stimulus plan, the biggest than any other country in Europe. The stimulus is just under 4% of its GDP. Analysts predict a 12.1% drop in their growth rate quarter over quarter, with the ECB expected to leave rates at 0%.

Thursday, 10th September – Bank of Canada Interest rate decision

Canada has been relatively prosperous in trying to contain the Coronavirus without implementing a strict lockdown. In Quebec, the Coronavirus's epicenter earlier this year has stated that they plan to have students return to school as soon as possible. Economists predict the central bank to keep interest rates at 0.25%, with 80% of Economists surveyed by Finder expecting no rate change until 2022. Oxford Economists Tony Stillo and Michael Davenport stated that the Bank of Canada has signaled that they will keep the interest rates at 0.25% "until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2% inflation target is sustainably achieved."

Friday, 11th September – UK GDP Year over Year

As the United Kingdom continues to grapple with the Coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that Brexit talks should continue with no delay. The United Kingdom has recorded over 347,000 Coronavirus cases, with the UK recording the highest number of daily Coronavirus cases today since May.

Saturday, 12th August – United States Inflation Rate Year over Year

Similar to Japan, the United States has a turbulent couple of weeks ahead. With main market indices diving, traders and investors should brace for market volatility in the times ahead alongside election season getting into full swing. With the Federal Reserve pledging a new tool combatting inflation, these data figures may be too early to see whether this tool is working. However, a higher than expected figure than the market forecast of 1.2% may see Gold push higher alongside the dollar go lower.

Trade safe this week ahead.

This week ahead: Jerome Powell Testimony, Inflation rates

Markets brace for the week ahead as the Coronavirus continues to disrupt the world order. As the death toll has topped 300,000 worldwide, markets have shown a tentative appetite towards risk-on assets. Oil is up 7.45% the past week, with the S&P 500 down 1.58%. Gold is up 2.3%.

Oil in blue, S&P 500 in red, Gold in orange. Figures below are in USD, dates are in NZST.

Japan's GDP Growth Annualized – Today, May 18th

As Japanese residence defying lockdown rules, analysts predict a 4.6% contraction in annualized GDP growth. The government issued a $1.1 trillion fiscal stimulus package in early April, which including lowered interest rates and asset purchases. This  stimulus package represents 21% of their GDP. in With an aging population and a slowing pre-coronavirus GDP growth rate, investors and traders will be looking for any positive sentiment in the report today to bolster the JPY as a safe-haven currency.

Fed's Jerome Powell to testify to congress - Tuesday, May 19th

A key event to watch for traders and investors, as sentiment from the FED chairman Jerome Powell this week may affect the dollar significantly. However­, he has been quite vocal in the strength in the American economy. "In the long run and even in the medium run, you wouldn't want to bet against the American economy. The American economy will recover". However, he also voiced his doubts concerns, stating that "for the economy to recover.. that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine." This is on the back of President Donald Trump stating that the Fed chair was his "Most Improved player." The Fed has implemented deep cuts to the Fed funding rate, and a unlimited quantitative easing scheme extending to bond ETFs.

United Kingdom's Employment change and Inflation rate; Tuesday, May 19th and Wednesday, May 20th

The United Kingdom has one of the highest Coronavrius fatality rates in the world, currently sitting at aorund 14.3%. The government has pledged a fiscal package totaling $520 Billion, $50 Billion of which going towards employment relief. Analysts predict a 65,000 decrease in the number of people employed. This comes a day before the United Kingdom releases its Core Inflation Rate. With people being locked in their own homes, analysts predict a drop in the rate of inflation this week to 0.8%, down from 1.5% a month before.

Canada's Inflation Rate - Thursday, May 21st

With one of the countries not implementing a strict lockdown, Canada has done relatively well. Alongside the government's quick actions and Canadian residence adhering to a self-imposed lockdown, currently their fatality rate stands at 7.5%. Similarly to the UK, analysts predict a slight drop in the rate of inflation to -.1%, down from 0.9% a month before.