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Local market brief - APAC 18 Dec



Written by Kyle Rodda - IG Australia

ASX yesterday: The ASX200 put in a very respectable day's trade yesterday. It was looking gloomy at the outset. Market participants were preoccupied with the economic struggles in China and the Friday sell-off on Wall Street. However, the 32-point drop forecast for the Australian market didn't materialise, providing scope for the index to cling-on to the 5600-mark, and forge gains throughout the day. The Australian session ended with the ASX200 1.00 per cent higher. It must be remarked that though positive, it was a day of light news and thin trade. The MYEFO release, coupled with BHP's share buyback and special dividend boosted sentiment, but volumes were quite some way below average, signalling a lack of conviction behind the day's rally.

ASX today: The gains look quite certain to be unwound this morning, however. SPI futures markets are indicating a 90-point drop for the ASX200, taking us almost squarely to where we were ought to have opened yesterday morning. The Wall Street chaos appears an inescapable lead today. It'll be touched on in a moment, but US shares a copping a battering (again) to start the new week. Financials and growth-stocks might be the barometer today. The banks are receiving a belting, falling yesterday even within the market's overall rally. US tech is heading the losses on Wall Street, as are health care stocks, following a ruling by a Texas judge that Obamacare is illegal. Using recent history as a guide: this is a generally solid indicator that Australia's technology and health care space will be shorted today.


Australian rates and bonds: Australian traders welcome the RBA Minutes this morning. Though probably ineffectual in the context of the day's trade, it will garner some attention from rates and currency markets, who are pricing in the prospect of a weaker Australian economy in the year ahead. Australian bonds are rallying once again on the prospect of a more accommodative RBA in 2019. The yield on 10 Year Australian Government Bond has fallen to 2.44 per cent, as break-evens in the bond market point to inflation languishing around 1.70 per cent moving forward. ASX 30 Day Interbank Cash Futures contracts have an implied probability of an RBA cut by mid next year at around 10 per cent, with any chance of a hike effectively non-existent now according to rates traders.

The RBA Minutes: Markets will keep taking their cues from overseas developments to judge the macroeconomic outlook for Australia, given the concerns about a synchronised downturn in the global economy in the coming years. However, today's RBA's minutes will be perused for commentary on the strength (read: deteriorating state) of the Australian consumer. The MYEFO release yesterday forecast wages to grow at 2.5 per cent next year and 3.00 per cent the year after. Given the burden of high private debt levels, a narrowing savings rate and falling property prices, wages growth at the projected rates is unlikely to overcome such drags, meaning future slackness in domestic consumption is likely. It’s this is what is driving the bearishness towards the Australian economy, which risks being hit from both sides if weakness in domestic demand conspires with a marked slow-down in the Chinese economy.

Australian macro: The problem of the Australian consumer is a medium-to-long-term matter for traders, and the RBA's Minutes will probably take a glass half full approach to the economy, as they are wont to do. The harsh realities of a weaker domestic demand will manifest over time in our markets, especially our embattled banks, which find themselves caught in the global bear market in financials stocks. The Australian Dollar ought also to remain in focus, primarily as concerns about Chinese growth raise issues about our terms of trade. The strength or weakness in the AUD rests on a combination of Fed policy and Chinese fiscal policy. If global-growth jitters persist, the A-Dollar as a risk-off growth- proxy currency should presumably suffer: the next key level of support is at 0.7150, before steep downside opens-up from there.

Global indices: Coming into the last hour of Wall Street's session, things are looking bleak. If you're an investor or any other kind of equity market bull, you'd be nervous. If you're a bear, then you've experienced another day of vindication. The major European indices were down overnight: the DAX was off by 0.86 per cent and the FTSE100 by 1.05 per cent. US stocks have followed suit: after numerous failures to break-through, support on the S&P 500 and Dow Jones has been breached. The psychological barriers of 2600 and 24,000 have been cleared. Barring another miraculous final hour rally in US shares, the 2 major US indices are poised to register fresh lows at levels not clocked since early-April this year.


Risk-off today: As can be assumed, it's risk-off wherever you look in global markets. US Treasuries have rallied - the US 2 Year Note is yielding 2.70 per cent and the US 10 Year note is yielding 2.85 per cent. The greenback has been sold consequently, giving the EUR a boost to 1.1350, and the Pound a lift to 1.2630. The Yen is back in the 112-handle as the carry trade unwinds, boding poorly for the Nikkei today. The Australian Dollar is steady against the greenback but weak mostly everywhere else. Gold has rallied to $1245 courtesy of the weaker USD, but oil has been smashed with WTI plunging below $50 on renewed fears of a glut. Spreads on junk bonds have blown-out subsequently, trading as wide as they have been for two-years. Ultimately, The action is culminating in an Asian session that shapes as another one for the Bears, as Santa's rally looks increasingly likely to be skipped this year.



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