More encouraging news in the US in the form of a bigger than forecast increase in September retail sales and stronger than expected earnings from Citigroup Inc. helped to boost equity markets and risk assets in general. The US data follows on from recent positive consumer confidence and housing data.
Meanwhile, the VIX ‘fear gauge’ dropped while the Baltic Dry Index continued its ascent. The latter is particularly encouraging in terms of its positive implications for global growth. This is corroborated by my own risk barometer which continues to move lower. In contrast, commodity prices dropped, with gold prices losing more ground as better US data acts to dampen expectations of the magnitude of Fed QE that will need to be carried out.
I expect the constructive risk tone to be maintained with data releases both in the US (industrial production) and Europe (German ZEW investor confidence) to be supportive of risk assets. A reports in the FT today that Spain is verging on requesting a bailout will also come as welcome news for markets although there has yet to be confirmation of such a request.
Despite the better market tone I do not see major breaks out of recent ranges, with attention on the 84 S&P 500 companies set to release earnings this week and developments at the upcoming EU Council meeting. Hesitation ahead of a slate of Chinese data tomorrow will also cap market movements today.
Firmer risk appetite is usually negative for the USD but it is notable that my risk barometer has had a positive and significant correlation with the USD over recent months. In other words, lower risk aversion has actually been associated with a firmer USD. I see the USD remaining supported especially if expectations of the magnitude of Fed QE are pared back although the USD will likely lose some momentum given growing hopes of an imminent Spanish bailout request.
Asian currencies look relatively firm against the backdrop noted above. The most sensitive Asian currency to risk is the KRW and notably USD/KRW has finally broken below 1110, which opens the door for a test of 1100. TWD, THB, MYR and INR are also major Asian FX beneficiaries in an environment of better risk appetite. I expect Asian currencies to continue to trade with a firmer tone in the short term helped by strengthening capital inflows. Firmer Chinese CNY fixings are also aiding Asian currencies.
About Mitul Kotecha
Mitul is the author of Chronology of a Crisis.
Here he is in his own words
I have worked in the financial industry as a strategist/economist for over 18-years in several corporate and investment banks in London. I have covered a range of financial products including bonds, interest rates, equities and foreign exchange.
I am currently working in Hong Kong for Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank, where I am the head of global currency strategy, in charge of a team of analysts providing research and strategy for the bank’s clients and internal trading and sales teams.
I hold an honours degree in economics and a masters degree in economics and finance and have developed a comprehensive knowledge of economic and financial theory during my studies and in my employment.
I am regularly consulted by the press/media for my views on markets and economies appearing regularly on business channels such as CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Channel News Asia, and Reuters TV. I am also regularly quoted in various newspapers including the Financial Times and Wall St. Journal as well as various newswires including Reuters, Bloomberg, Associated Press, Dow Jones and many others.