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Trade War Rumors are Generating as Much Reaction as Official Announcements
The trade war remains one of the most far-reaching and economically-threatening themes currently assailing the global markets. After more than a year of escalation whereby the market has acclimated to a steady flow of stories detailing the malaise this conflict has sown, it should come as little surprise that the market has grown somewhat deadened to hints that conditions may grow marginally worse. Yet, in contrast, any budding suggestions that a demonstrable improvement in the relationship may be around the corner are being met with far more speculative enthusiasm. This past week, two such reports dotted the headlines and played no small role in helping push US equities beyond levels that technical traders would consider weighty (2,645 for the S&P 500 and 24,325 for the Dow).
First, on Thursday, it was reported by WSJ that President Trump was debating with officials whether to lift tariffs on China. That would be a complete 180 on their negotiation tactic thus far, but it wouldn’t be exactly far-fetched given the President’s penchant to change course when his priorities change and to offer help to a struggling market since the Fed has shown little willingness to comply with his demands. Equities responded to the headlines with a smart rally to the midpoint of the October to December tumble. However, before traction could be fully secured; the US Treasury’s spokesperson rejected the news, saying neither the Treasury Secretary nor US Trade Representative had advised such a tack. While the market slipped on the official correction, the hope of an eventual breakthrough was appealing enough that Friday’s trading session opened to an official ‘breakout’ beyond the aforementioned barrier.
To follow up Friday, Bloomberg issued a new report that China had offered the United States a plan whereby it would dramatically increase its purchases of US-made good (to the tune of $1 trillion) in a bid to close the countries’ trade gap in six years. This plan was not clearly and quickly rejected – perhaps because China is not as concerned with the favorable impact it can have in cooling financial markets. And, with that additional fundamental push, the indices closed out its fourth consecutive week advance strong. It is inevitable that we face another round of trade war updates in the week and weeks ahead; and whether they signal deeper divide or possible mending, they will likely be market-moving. That is because we are in a limbo where the general health of the global economy is crumbling, and this remains one of the more consistent drains. Further, the market sense of urgency over this state will increase as more reliable sides of economic health continue to degrade. We’ve seen a host of signals these past weeks – US consumer sentiment, Chinese liquidity conditions, etc – but this week’s 4Q Chinese GDP update will serve as a direct status update.
The World’s Top Concerns, Monetary Policy and Recession Fears
The economic docket has a few high-profile listings (China 4Q GDP and ECB rate decision among them) over the coming week, but the traditional fare doesn’t give the proper scale of the broad fundamental themes that we are dealing with moving forward. There are far more systemic issues under consideration by the world’s market participants, and a few items give perspective of the themes better than others. It is important in fundamentals to first and foremost assess what carries the greatest weight with the largest faction in the markets. With our laundry list of unfolding issues, no one would begrudge you uncertainty over that question. This week, we will have the rare opportunity to gain some insight into what most concerns the leaders of the world’s largest economies at a summit in Switzerland. The Davos World Economic Forum will cover topics that are no doubt top of our mind, and perhaps some that are under the market’s radar, but from the discussion, time dedicated and sideline comments, we will be better able to ascertain what issues are considered the most troubling.
And, while social troubles are of great importance, leaders are disproportionately fearful of economic troubles. No confidence votes, failed re-elections and general discontent more often follow economic troubles. Politics in the meantime will be another great timekeeper for traders looking for the next jolt of volatility. There is upheaval across the world from the US government shutdown to Brexit running out of maneuvering room to the Yellow Vest protests in France extending to a tenth week. Monetary policy will likely earn little for directly-linked currencies, but the sense of the underlying current can materially affect confidence in active support for growth and financial stability. On tap are two of the developed world’s most dovish major central banks. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) sees little chance of altering its active effort to keep QE pumping into the system, but the recognition of its inability to influence change in inflation or economic condition grows clearer with each week.
In contrast, the European Central Bank (ECB) took the significant move to end its stimulus program last month – in a first step to normalize from an extraordinary dovish policy-setting. Yet, those intentions may not be fulfilled in the foreseeable future if concerns of economic struggle deeper. Beyond the warning on growth for China with trade wars, US via the shutdown (now cutting off 0.5 ppt), Germany drawing out recession concerns in data like factory activity, Italy risking it far more readily with the local central bank’s own forecasts, we are seeing the world bow under the maturation of a decade-long cycle and the eruption of numerous cuts in fundamental efficiency. If a slowdown becomes an overt reality, will we find relief from the world’s central banks (already at the extreme of their policy setting) or governments (struggling to function and certainly not cooperating well with each other).
Where to From Here on the Brexit?
As of Monday, the countdown will drop to 67 days until the UK is due to leave the European Union according to the two-year timeline dictated by Article 50. And, despite our dangerous proximity to the official divorce, we seem to be no closer to a plan on how this separation will play out than we did six months ago. That is troubling. This past week, Prime Minister May offered up a proposal in the Commons on how the country may severe ties with the Union. The defeat Parliament delivered May was the worst seen in British history. On the back of that popular discontent, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a no-confidence debate that took place shortly after. This time, the majority sided with the PM – though the margin was far smaller than the one she lost by with her plan. Due to votes pushed through in previous weeks, May now needs to issue a Plan B on Monday the 21st. It had also been previously discussed that should the no way forward be found by the PM’s efforts by this date, that Parliament could take greater control over the process to avoid a ‘no deal’ outcome. This will help delay that pressure. Though it is always possible that the EU will take the mandate of the crushing defeat dealt the UK’s leader to offer more concessions, it is more likely that the program she ends up with will still not pass the approval of Parliament.
Nonetheless, with debate still to be had, the vote on it will take us out to January 29 (Tuesday). It is worth noting that May’s threats to choose ‘her Brexit, no deal Brexit or no Brexit at all’ have been trumpeted far less frequently as of late. It is not clear whether that is because she is genuinely softening her position and ‘red lines’ or perhaps just because there is a little less urgency with a few more days. The days are steadily ticking down and polls of Brits’ stance on whether to leave or not or what kind of approach to pursue (no deal, May’s deal or more concession) remains markedly mixed. With so much confusion throughout the country on how to proceed, it comes as little surprise that the state of the negotiations are as opaque as they are. Continue to monitor for Pound volatility.
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Tuesday the 15th will see a UK Parliamentary vote in the Commons regarding Brexit. There is considerable uncertainty surrounding the vote, however one thing is known: this could make or break Theresa May's Brexit deal. The political uncertainty has flowed over into the financial markets with a number of assets seeing significant volatility. A ratified deal is likely to display stability and confidence resulting in a strengthening GBP, and possibly a short term boost to British stock prices and indices such as the mid-cap FTSE 250. On the other hand, a rejected deal and an increase in uncertainty could signpost a bearish movement.
We have a live #IGBrexitChat on Wednesday 16th at 13:00 GMT
IG’s Jeremy Naylor will be live in the studio with Alexandra Kellert from Control Risks and Peter Dixon from Commerzbank AG to analyse the possible effects on the markets. Ahead of the chat, he’ll also be speaking with Ben Habib from First Property Group, and the highlights from that interview will be played during the show.
Submit your questions now
A key talking point throughout the #IGBrexitChat will be the effect on the markets and how to uncover any trade ideas. We want your questions! Simply submit your questions using the comments section below, either before the chat or over the live show (we'll monitor IG Community and make sure we put your questions to the panel). Add your questions to some of the key areas we'll be covering such as...
- Which markets should you be watching?
- What direction is EUR/GBP likely to move in?
- What are the possible effects on the FTSE 100?
- How can you capitalise on market volatility following the vote?
- How will the EU react?
(The video player below will auto configure 5 minutes before the live show at 13:00 on the 16th Jan)
How do I view IGTV live in the platform?
You can watch the broadcast above, however if you would like to watch in your dealing platform so you can watch the markets throughout the show...
- Click on the top right hand 'notifications' tab
- Click the IGTV prompt which will go live 5 minutes before the show
- Move the IGTV player anywhere in your workspace. If you already have the player open the show will start automatically.
On the back of client feedback we now offer the possibility to customise the RSI levels on desktop and mobile devices. To do so, click on the RSI label once you have enable the indicator on your chart. This will open a dialog box that will allow you to change the levels (which are set at the default levels of 30/70), as well as customise the period and the colour of the lines.
What is RSI?
The Relative Strength Index is a momentum indicator that measures the magnitude of recent price changes to evaluate whether a stock is oversold or overbought. This indicator can oscillate between 0 and 100 and usually uses the level of 30 to indicate that a stock is oversold and the level of 70 to indicate that a stock is overbought.
The RSI indicator uses the average percentage gains and losses of a specific period which is usually the last 14 days. When a candle closes after a positive move (a green candle stick) the RSI value will increase, whilst after a negative move (a red candle stick) it will fall as the number. The RSI value will be 0 if stocks fall on all 14 days and 100 if the price moves up on all the days.
Like the price, the RSI creates highs and lows that can be connected to create resistance and support levels. In the same way as price action, these support and resistance levels can also be tested, broken and retested.
How RSI is used as a forward-looking indicator
These support and resistance levels can be broken on the RSI chart before they are broken on the price chart, which can create an opportunity to profit on a reversal before it takes place on the price. As with all indicators this is never a guarantee, however it does provide a qualitative supportive argument for possible price action.
Let’s look at the Eurodollar 1-hour chart as an example of this resistance break:
We can see that both the price and the RSI are testing a resistance level, but the breakthrough happens one candlestick before on the RSI chart than it does in the price chart. In this case, the RSI is a leading signal that offers possibility to enter the market at a more favourable price an hour before the actual price level breaks through the resistance level.
Why would you adjust the RSI levels?
For the RSI to be most effective, it has to be adjusted for the inherent volatility of a specific stock or market. In a very volatile environment the RSI is likely to hit the overbought and oversold levels with more frequency, weakening the reliability of the RSI as a leading indicator. When you widen the resistance and support levels you will probably have fewer trends, but they will possibly be better signals.
As can be seen on the FTSE100 15-minute graphs below, the RSI tests the 30-support level various times, but it is not until it tests the 20-support level that the price trends actually reverses.