By Laura Curtis
Everybody’s doing it
Fear over trade and currency wars is prompting monetary action around the globe. New Zealand’s central bank stunned investors and sent the kiwi tumbling by dropping its benchmark rate by 50 basis points, double the expected reduction. Thailand also surprised, cutting by 25 basis points. India’s central bank lowered its rate by an unconventional 35 basis points. As President Donald Trump blames slowing growth on a strong dollar and the Federal Reserve’s reluctance to cut rates deeper, one of the FOMC’s doviest members said not so-fast. Markets should get used to greater trade uncertainty, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said Tuesday, sticking with his prediction that just one more rate cut will come this year. Meanwhile, benchmark German rates dropped to a fresh record after industrial production registered the biggest annual decline in almost a decade as the European Central Bank mulls a fresh round of monetary stimulus.
Brent crude closed in a bear market on Tuesday as the trade war ramps up investor concern over consumer and industrial demand. Bloomberg reported China will probably start avoiding imports of U.S. crude oil as tit-for-tat tensions ratchet up, according to traders who supply American crude to China. On the geo-political front, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will hold a joint press conference with the U.K.’s new Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab later today as the two nations agree to work together on maritime security in the Persian Gulf. The effort would aim to protect tankers passing through the world’s most important chokepoint for oil from the showdown with Iran. Meanwhile, Trump imposed further sanctions on Venezuela, freezing the government’s assets in the U.S. It is unclear whether the move will affect companies such as Chevron Corp., which was just granted a three-month waiver allowing it to continue producing oil and gas in the country.
Gold gets in on it
Gold futures touched $1500 per ounce, the highest since 2013, as stuttering global growth, negative bond yields, and the festering trade war all bolster demand. Data out out today show China’s central bank increased its gold stash for an eighth month in July, adding about 10 tons following the addition of about 84 in the seven months to June. The shoring up fuels speculation that Beijing, America’s biggest foreign creditor, will seek to pare its mammoth U.S. debt holdings amid the tussle with Washington.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed amid a mixed picture across the region, with Japan’s Topix Index finishing barely higher and shares in South Korea declining. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index jumped 1% at 6:05 a.m. Eastern Time after three days of declines. S&P 500 futures pointed to more gains at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 1.677% and gold was higher.
Mortgage Bankers Association data at 7 a.m. is projected to show a decline in applications for the sixth consecutive week, reflecting a continuing decline in home purchases. The EIA weekly U.S. oil inventory report at 10:30 a.m. will shed some light on supply. And don’t forget, earnings season rolls on. Marathon Oil is set to report at the close and financial firms UniCredit, AIG, ABN Amro Bank, Standard Bank, Japan Post Bank are still up this week. Look for comments from Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans today.