US equities edged lower, except for technology stocks as standstill fiscal talks in the US limited the appetite for more equity purchases as the major US indices fluctuated near their all-time highs. The treasury yields rose after the record 30-year US bond auction saw weak demand on Thursday hinting that the heavily swamped debt market couldn’t absorb the additional debt easily.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump refused to fund the US postal services to increase his chances of delaying the November presidential election, amid surveys started showing up to double digit advance for his rival Biden. And the markets don’t even react badly to an eventual Biden victory on reassurance that under the actual circumstances, Democrats can’t take any steps to harm the financial markets, anyway. Right now, Biden victory is seen as neutral for the stock markets, some believe that there could even be some positive in switching the government after two years of tense relationship with China, and trade frictions with other countries as well.
Stocks in Asia traded mixed after China posted the biggest jump in industrial production in six months in July, but the 4.8% y-o-y rise missed the consensus of analyst expectations of 5.1%. Chinese retail sales unexpectedly dropped 1.1% however, leaving the market skeptical about the pace of the recovery.
Trading on FTSE (-0.09%) and DAX futures (-0.22%) hint at a lackluster open in Europe.
The US dollar reversed the early week gains, but improved US yields helped limiting the dollar’s weakness on Thursday. The US weekly jobless claims fell below 1 million for the first time since the beginning of pandemic, still very high but pointing at a gradual recovery in the US jobs market.
The euro remained offered past the 1.1850 and the pound rebounded from 1.3120 against the US dollar. A better dollar appetite should encourage a further downside correction in both euro and sterling against the greenback, as the overstretched short USD positions are mainly responsible for the actual trading levels and a downside correction would be healthy to match the fundamentals in both pairs.
Due today, the second quarter GDP read should confirm a 12% decline in the Eurozone economy, as inflation remains low due to depressed activity. Germany and Spain printed inflation below zero in July, while consumer prices in France may have improved due to a boost in summer demand. Still, the overall picture calls for a decent government and central bank support and keeps the European Central Bank (ECB) doves in charge of the market.
Virus update. Germany reported the highest jump in Covid cases in three months, while cases in France, Greece and Spain continued surging as a result of relaxed confinement measures, and perhaps the crowded summer destinations where light measures as the obligation to wear masks and social distancing are hard to implement in outdoor places and merely respected.
For investors, the rising infections will likely become an issue if governments reimplement stricter quarantine measures that could hit the economic activity, otherwise the cheap liquidity should continue feeding into stock prices.
Gold consolidates gains near $1950 per oz. Higher US yields and firmer US dollar could limit the appetite in the short run, however, the rising inflationary pressures in the US and the uncertain market sentiment should keep the medium-term gold demand intact and provide support to the gold market. The positive trend building since March should remain in place above $1845 per oz, the major 38.2% retracement on March – August rally.
Demand in WTI crude remained solid after the IEA cut its forecast for global oil demand, insisting on the worsening outlook for jet fuel consumption. The rising Covid cases globally will likely keep passengers grounded for an extended period and continue weighing on demand. On the supply side, we should soon start seeing critics emerge against the OPEC’s decision to trim the production cuts prematurely. For now, the price of a barrel is steady near the 200-day moving average ($42.90), but there is a reduced potential for a sustainable advance above this level.