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Wall street pull back - APAC brief 22 Feb

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MaxIG

Wall Street pulls back: On balance, and with Wall Street a few hours from ending its session, it's been a soft 24 hours for equities. The often heard calls of a looming "new-peak" in the market in the shorter term can be heard from some. Momentum has certainly slowed down. The S&P500 has its eyes one 2815 again - that crucial area where that index sold off on three occasions from October to December last year. It could be a slow drive to arrive at a challenge of that level now. The dovish Fed will keep the wind behind US stocks; but the earnings outlook, post reporting season, has dimmed on Wall Street, while positive regarding the trade war has already been heavily juiced.

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Trade war truce already priced in? Markets are positioned for a relatively positive outcome in the trade-war, and that's manifesting in pockets of market activity. A true resolution in the trade war isn't expected, however an extension to be March 1 trade-truce-deadline seems to be. The overnight fall in US Treasuries, coupled with a topside break of copper's recent range, is a testament to this sentiment. The yield on the US 10 Year note has jumped back towards 2.70 percent, while the 3 month copper contract on the LME leapt another 0.83 per cent overnight. In G4 currencies, the US Dollar is stronger against the Euro and Pound, albeit very, very marginally, but weaker against the Yen.

The curious case of gold: Gold prices have dipped slightly courtesy of the stronger Dollar and greater confidence in the policy-outlook for the world's major central banks. The price of the yellow metal is sitting just above $1325 presently, as it continues its short term trend higher. One of the more divisive debates amongst traders currently is the outlook for gold. Like any market, time horizons are crucial to illustrating the trend for an asset's price. For gold, the short term trend is certainly higher, but with signs of "toppy-ness". The medium term trend, though perhaps posting some higher-lows in the price, is sideways at best. The long-term, secular trend though for gold prices is irrefutably pointing higher.

The gold debate: There is several aspects of this price dynamic, and elegantly indicates the different types of traders that move a price over certain time horizon. The immediate-term outlook for gold is naturally speculative, and pertains to the swings-and-arrows relating to stories about the trade-war, global growth, and short term rates. The medium term activity in gold certainly tracks the changing yield environment and vacillations in the credit and monetary policy cycle - primarily of the Fed. In the longer-term, where time scales of decades are spoken of, gold prices are angling higher, seemingly as global central banks buy the metal to hedge their US Dollar dependence.

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Global growth outlook dims further: At the risk of flying off into paradigm after paradigm: a health check on economic data from the past 24 hours is in order. A mixed bag of data pertaining to global economic growth shaped the "global growth narrative" last night. It was a big PMI day in Europe and Asia, and while there weren't as many shockers, the numbers showed a greyer outlook for the global economy. Japanese Manufacturing PMI deeply contracted once more, Australian PMI figures dipped, while European numbers were relatively better, however did little to ameliorate the concern that European growth is sliding. It was a notion backed-up by last night's ECB minutes: policy makers can see what's happening to growth, and now future monetary policy is on notice.

Australia's wise-old uncle calls RBA cuts: Centring on the Australian experience, and a headline grabber yesterday was the Australian Dollar's wild ride. Labour market figures popped a rocket under the Aussie in early trade, after it was revealed that the local economy added 39k jobs last month - enough to keep the unemployment rate at 5 per cent despite, despite a climb in the participation rate. It all came undone for the currency quite quickly, however, after Australia's wise-old-uncle on RBA policy, Bill Evans, announced his view that a forecast fall in domestic GDP to 2.2 per cent and a subsequent rise in the unemployment rate to 5.5 per cent would prompt to RBA to cut rates to 1.0 per cent this year.

ASX to open soft: To add insult to injury, the AUD/USD was slapped down below 0.7100, after China announced a ban on Australian coal imports. This story aside, which dropped after the ASX200's close, the fall in the currency, and the fall in Australian Commonwealth Government bond yields, proved a positive for the ASX200. It closed   0.7 per cent higher for the session at 6139, and now eyes the next resistance level around 6160. The developments regarding the ban on Australian coal going into China, concerns about Australian fundamentals, and a bit of selling into the close on Wall Street should drag on stocks today. SPI futures indicating a 4 point drop for the ASX200 this morning.

Written by Kyle Rodda - IG Australia

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