Equity markets are marginally in the red again on Thursday, with US futures in a similar position, as investors continue to weigh up the ongoing trade war threat for the global economy and markets.

It’s been quite the couple of weeks on the trade war front. We’ve gone from a deal being close to done, to talks collapsing and tariffs imposed and now Trump seeking to alleviate market concerns. The sell-off on Monday clearly lit a fire under the President who likes to make it known that he follows the markets closely.

His initial response was to soften his tone on Sino-US talks, referring to them as a “little squabble”, and now he’s correctly deemed it not wise to embark on trade wars on multiple fronts, likely out of fear of what impact it will have on markets and his ratings ahead of an election year. The decision to delay auto tariffs – directed at the EU and Japan – by six months has brought some calm to markets but it won’t be enough to ease concerns altogether if the conflict with China continues to heat up.

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It’s also become clear – on a less positive note – that the experience of a trade war with China hasn’t deterred the Trump administration from this hostile and potentially damaging method of improving trade terms between the US and its partners. While we can all breathe a sigh of relief that we’re not going to see trade wars on multiple fronts, the battle has merely been postponed.

Gold pares gains but further upside could follow

Gold has also settled over the last couple of days as the initial panic has faded. After approaching $1,300 at the start of the week – having taken some time to break $1,290, a stubborn resistance level – gold has taken a breather, albeit while barely paring gains along the way. The yellow metal looks caught in two minds at the moment, with the break below $1,280 – a major support level this year – failing to generate the downside momentum that you would typically expect.

The rebound hasn’t exactly been convincing either though and looks highly dependent on risk appetite in the markets remaining weak. The recent correction in the dollar has also supportive for gold over the last few weeks but that could reverse course again, with the US still in a better position that many of its peers, particularly in defensive markets.

Oil heading for third positive day

Oil prices are trading higher again on Thursday, building on yesterday’s gains which came in more favorable risk markets and as EIA reported a higher inventory build than expected, albeit a smaller one than API reported a day earlier. Perhaps the API number adjusted people’s expectations for the number and the release fell short of these expectations, despite still representing another large build which you would typically associate as being negative for oil prices.

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