ASX to open lower; Aussie gains as Fed keeps rates on hold


The long and short of it

1. Traders enter the business end of the week: The news flow is starting to pick up in markets. Price action remains relatively subdued, and that probably reveals the emphasis on US-China trade talks. But several issues have captured market attention in the past 24 hours. The British pound was volatile yesterday, after the latest YouGov election poll. Oil prices fell, following the release of US Crude Inventories data. The world has a new biggest company, with Saudi Aramco’s IPO delivering a massive valuation. And the US Federal Reserve met, and kept interest rates on hold, as expected. Focus now shifts to the ECB meeting in the day ahead, at which it’s expected to keep rates steady.

2. News flow is dense, but market moves are limited: Things are starting to approach a climax, but market activity remains like a tightened coil. Important news are dropping in the market, however movements in market prices are isolated and relatively limited. It probably betrays the significance of US-China trade talks at the moment: traders wish not to make any major moves until it’s absolutely known that December 15’s tariffs hikes will be delayed. As a result, US and European stock indices have traded on thin volumes, albeit with a slightly positive tilt overnight. The ASX200 will probably buck that lead today, however, with SPI futures suggesting the index will shed much of yesterday’s gains, and drop some 30 points this morning.

3. The British pound fell after the release of latest YouGov poll: The most meaningful news released during Asian trading hours arguably came out of the UK yesterday. The latest YouGov poll was published – the last before the general election – and showed that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conservative government’s election lead has narrowed. A Tory win is still considered the predicted outcome. But the real concern for market participants is that it will not result in a majority government. That throws into doubt the odds of a clear mandate for Johnson’s Brexit deal, lowering marginally the chances of a “smooth Brexit” come January 2020. The pound dropped yesterday as a result, before reclaiming ground throughout last night’s trade.

4. Oil prices drop on US crude inventory build: There was a degree of volatility in oil prices last night. Oil has seen a flurry of buying activity in recent weeks, as hopes build for a turnaround in global growth, and Opec pledged to act to curb a looming global oil oversupply. Though the short-term uptrend remains, brent crude prices slipped a little less than 1 per cent after US crude inventory data revealed an 800,000 barrel increase in inventories, versus what was forecast to be a 2.8 million barrels drawdown. The data reignited the idea that perhaps the demand side for oil is a touch soft, and that ought to keep upside in prices contained.

5. Introducing the world’s new, biggest company: Some possible toppyness in oil markets didn’t deter investors from Saudi Aramco’s historic IPO yesterday. The world has a new largest publicly listed company, with Saudi Aramco realising a valuation after its first day’s trade of $US1.9 trillion ($2.8 trillion). It wasn’t quite the $US2 trillion figure that the Saudis were targeting. But it was higher than the estimated $US1.7 trillion figure leading into the IPO. The result is a huge political coup for the Saudi regime. One, it’s great PR for the controversial royal family. But on top of that, the money raised by the IPO will go a long way to modernising Saudi Arabia’s energy-dependent economy.

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6. Fed keeps rates on hold, flags steady policy settings: The first big risk event of the week occurred this morning our time. The US Federal Reserve met, and as expected, kept rates on hold. As steady rates were practically a certainty going into this Fed meeting, all eyes were on the central bank’s quarterly economic projections and interest rate “dot plots”. They key points here: growth will remain moderate in the US economy, jobs growth ought to be a little stronger than previously thought, and inflation will keep running at or below the Fed’s “symmetrical” target. That’ll mean, according to the dot plots, rates should remain on hold into 2020, and perhaps beyond.

7. Lagarde to seize the agenda at tonight’s ECB meeting: Trader’s attention will move from the Fed on to the European Central Bank now. The ECB hands down its final interest rate decision for the year, and it too isn’t expected to adjust its policy settings. The real interest in this ECB meeting is in what message new ECB President Christine Lagarde delivers to the market. Traders will be effectively looking for a vision and agenda. With the European economy languishing, and the ECB looking increasingly divided, market participants are wanting to know how President Lagarde plans on galvanising both Eurozone growth, along with the ECB being an effective and credible institution.

8. Market watch: 

ASX futures were down 29 points or 0.4 per cent at 6722 near 7.40am AEDT

  • AUD +1.1% to 68.81 US cents
  • On Wall St near 3.40pm: Dow+0.1% S&P 500 +0.3% Nasdaq +0.4%
  • In New York: BHP +1.3% Rio +1.8% Atlassian -2.6%
  • In Europe: Stoxx 50 +0.4% FTSE flat CAC +0.2% DAX +0.6%
  • Spot gold +0.4% to $US1470.50/oz near 1pm New York
  • Brent crude -0.9% to $US63.75 a barrel
  • US oil -0.6% to $US58.86 a barrel
  • Iron ore +1.2% to $US94.67 a tonne
  • Dalian iron ore -0.8% to 647 yuan
  • LME aluminium +0.3% to $US1760 a tonne
  • LME copper +0.9% to $US6156 a tonne
  • 2-year yield: US 1.63% Australia %
  • 5-year yield: US 1.66% Australia %
  • 10-year yield: US 1.81% Australia 1.15% Germany -0.33%
  • 10-year US/Australia yield gap near 6.30am AEDT: 66 basis points

This column was produced in commercial partnership between The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and IG

Listen to IG’s podcast Chatting Markets here

Information is of a general nature only.



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