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Investors See Trade Truce Giving Risk Assets Short Repr...

Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Investors See Trade Truce Giving Risk Assets Short Reprieve

(FILE) - US President Donald J. Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shake hands during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People (GHOP) in Beijing, China, 09 November 2017 (reissued 04 January 2019). EPA-EFE/ROMAN PILIPEY
By Bloomberg
01 Jul 2019 0

A trade truce between the world’s biggest economies will probably fuel a relief rally across risky assets, albeit a short-lived one.

Strategists and investors from Toronto to Singapore agree the outcome of a high-stakes meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, alleviates the immediate risk of more tariffs in a dispute that has gripped investors for more than a year. They also worry that core issues of the trade war haven’t been resolved.

“While on the surface the G-20 outcome appears positive and poised to give risk assets a short-term boost, the agreement did not by itself signal any major breakthrough in resolving the fundamental trade conflict,” Patrick Wacker, a fund manager for emerging-markets fixed income at UOB Asset Management in Singapore. “We are likely to see a similar pattern following the G-20 in Buenos Aires: a truce followed by further escalation.”

It’s a concern echoed by International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who warned that unresolved issues between the U.S. and China on trade pose serious risks to the future of global economies, which are already going through a “rough patch.”

Read More: China Traders Gear Up for Relief Rally, Though Caution Prevails

Still, a return to the negotiating table ends a six-week stalemate that had raised fears the two nations were headed into a cold war. Trump told reporters he wouldn’t put new duties on China for the “time being” after Xi’s administration agreed to buy a “tremendous” amount of agricultural products.

For analysts, the biggest breakthrough was the decision to allow Huawei Technologies Co. to buy some products from U.S. suppliers after the Commerce Department last month blacklisted the company for national security reasons.

“The Huawei news was a surprise that the market should take constructively,” said Bipan Rai, the Toronto-based North American head of foreign-exchange strategy at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. “The setup is there for risk to perform well to start this week.”

In the currency market, the Chinese yuan and the Australian dollar should be the biggest near-term beneficiaries of the trade ceasefire, Rai said.

Despite global trade tensions easing, “financial markets are unlikely to significantly reduce their expectations for Federal Reserve rate cuts,” said Mansoor Mohi-uddin, a senior macro strategist at NatWest Markets in Singapore. “Thus risk assets — stocks, commodities and emerging markets — are set to rally while the safe-haven dollar, yen and Swiss franc underperform.”

Read More: Investors May Rethink Fed Rate-Cut Bets After U.S.-China Truce

Currencies in developed markets may also rebound, especially those with exposure to China, according to Valentin Marinov, the head of G-10 currency research at Credit Agricole. The Australian and New Zealand dollars, the Japanese yen and the euro may rise, he said. And even though the outcome of the meeting between Trump and Xi was largely expected, there could be a rebound in carry-trade optimism, with long dollar versus the euro and Swiss franc as the best picks, he added.

Meanwhile, Khiem Do, the head of Great China investments and global markets at Barings in Hong Kong, said a 50-basis-point interest rate reduction in the U.S. is unlikely, because the truce is going to dominate sentiment toward trade talks in the short term. St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard on Tuesday said a cut of that magnitude would be “overdone.”

Below are more comments from investors and strategists:

Credit Agricole’s Marinov in London:

  • The implication is that further easing of U.S. conditions stemming from stock-market optimism following the G-20 summit “should reduce the need for imminent Fed rate cut in July.” This makes the upcoming U.S. payrolls and ISM data “very important” to the near-term rates outlook.

Sean Callow, senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in Sydney:

  • “Overall, a win for China seems likely to be taken as a positive for global equities, Asian currencies and the Australian dollar, but probably only in a relatively short-lived response”
  • “The tariff threat will linger for some time, weighing further on U.S. business investment plans”
    • “This will concern the Fed at the July meeting, but confirmation of the talks resuming should help further reduce market pricing for” a 50-basis-point rate cut then
  • “Trump’s back-down to both China and U.S. tech firms over sales to Huawei is a mild surprise that should add support to tech-sensitive Asian equities. It might even help the Canadian dollar a little.”

Nader Naeimi, the head of dynamic markets at AMP Capital in Sydney:

  • Overall, plenty of ritual, positive empty language, no tariffs rolled back, and no resolution time frame. So, no clearing of the air for global corporations (where to produce, invest, hire or source), and leaves the US-China economic issues unresolved.
  • The truce in May 2018 lasted just 10 days, he said
  • Naeimi is taking the following actions for his fund: He’s closing long-duration in U.S. bonds; adding to U.S. curve steepener positions; closing defensive bond proxy positions — utilities in particular — in favor of cyclicals such as securities in the energy, materials and energy industries; adding longs in emerging-market currencies; shifting from emerging-market bonds to stocks.

Olivier d’Assier, the head of applied research for Asia-Pacific at Axioma in Singapore:

  • “These guys didn’t really give investors much to go on”
  • “We might see some short-covering from a few overzealous hedge funds, but overall, sentiment was neutral and nothing in this outcome is likely to give investors the confidence they need to raise their risk appetite.”

Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management in Melbourne:

  • “The lifting of ban on the sale of technology to Chinese companies was a step beyond expectations and the market reaction come Monday will likely be positive
  • “Markets are likely to breathe a collective sigh of relief given the highly anticipated outcome of the meeting. However, the reprieve may be short lived and there is still no guarantee that a deal can be reached or even that any deal would completely address all of the differences that have driven investor anxieties, particularly when it comes to technology and the enforcement of a possible deal”

Hao Hong, a strategist at Bocom International in Hong Kong:

  • “While most expected that both sides will calm down to agree to further discussion,” lifting ban on Huawei is a surprise. “Lifting the ban for now shows progress in the negotiation and sincerity to discuss further”
  • “It would appear that the ban on Huawei is really more about the trade disputes than national security.”

Masanari Takada, a strategist at Nomura Securities Co in Tokyo:

  • “We retain our ‘risk-on’ view ahead of the July market and expect global equity and 10-year U.S. Treasury yields to rebound through end-July”
  • “We keep our strategy even after G20; bullish in July but bearish in August.”

Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets in Bangkok:

  • The “reset button” being hit on trade talks was the markets’ base-case scenario, and this is supportive for risk, but the lack of a timeline for progress may cap “bullish topside ambitions”
  • “With no news reading algorithms to steamroll the markets on Saturday, traders will have a 36-hour cooling off period to quantify their next move. And I would expect the markets to be very orderly on Monday open”
  • The extensive lists of demands from both sides may be “a bridge too far”
  • “Underlying sentiment remains quite bearish in terms of the medium-term outlook for a U.S.-China trade deal as well the global growth outlook.”

Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone Financial in Melbourne:

  • “I can’t see this meeting doing risk assets any harm, but there is still a lot of work to do to convince central banks they don’t need to act to keep the economic expansion in check”
  • “A few weak shorts may look to close out on Monday” given the tariff reprieve, prospects for negotiations to restart and the fact that both sides “actually appear more united than expected.”

Raymond Yeung, chief China economist at ANZ in Hong Kong:

  • The outcome “similar to last December’s, still does not convince us that the trade tensions have been resolved. China and the U.S. have not made any progress on key issues, namely, intellectual property rights and technology transfer”
  • “Trump’s softer stance seems to be driven by U.S. corporate interests, as billion dollar contracts for US farmers and Huawei suppliers are involved”
  • It “suggests that future negotiations could be characterized by U.S. stepping back in exchange for China’s purchases. But as China has said it is prepared for a ‘Long March’, the U.S. needs to compromise further to reach a real deal before the next presidential election.”

Alfonso Esparza, a senior market analyst at Oanda in Toronto:

  • “Everybody played their part without any additional drama and until more details emerge we are back at square one”
  • “Gold will be pressured as trade optimism reduces the appeal of the yellow metal as a safe haven.”

Jean-Charles Sambor, the deputy of head of emerging-market fixed income at BNP Paribas Asset Management in London:

  • “This is of course good. Investors have been generally negative on both the probability of a meeting and the probability of a positive outcome following this meeting.”
  • “High-yield spreads should do well. China high yield remains very cheap especially, and emerging-market currencies should continue to rally on the news.”

David Page, senior economist at AXA Investment Managers in London:

  • The lack of detail elevates uncertainty “as markets reflect on the similarity to last November’s situation”
  • No escalation in the trade war “reduces the likelihood of a sharp Fed cutting cycle.” Page maintains his view of two cuts in 2019, starting in September.
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