Mixed Feelings

The Federal Reserve (Fed) President Jerome Powell pushed back against the rate cut bets at his speech given in Atlanta last Friday. He is of course playing the card of ‘high for long’ rates to tame inflation, yet he hinted that the Fed will probably not hike rates when it meets this month. He said that the US monetary policy is ‘well into restrictive territory’ and that the fell of effect of higher rates to combat inflation is working its way through economy. ‘We are getting what we wanted to get,’ said Powell. And indeed, inflation is cooling, people start to spend less, and the job market loosens. But in parallel, the financial conditions are loosening fast, as well. Hence the market optimism and stocks/bond gains become increasingly vulnerable to hawkish Fed comments, and/or strong economic data. The US jobs data will take the center stage this week. Investors expect further fall in US jobs openings, less than 200’000 job additions last month with slightly higher pay on month-on-month basis. The softer the data, the better the chances of keeping the Fed hawks away from the market.

Unsurprisingly, the part of Powell’s speech where he pushed back against rate cut expectations went fully unheard by investors on Friday. On the contrary, the Fed rate cut expectations went through the roof when it became clear that the Fed will stay pat again this month. The US 2-year fell to nearly 4.50% on Friday, the 10-year yield tipped a toe below the 4.20% mark. The S&P500 flirted with the summer peak, flirted with the 4600 level and closed the week a touch below this level, while the rate sensitive Nasdaq closed a few points below the 16000 and iShares core US REIT ETF jumped nearly 2.70% last Friday.

The SPDR’s energy ETF, on the other hand, barely closed above its 200-DMA, as last week’s OPEC decision to cut the production supply by another 1mbpd and to extend the Saudi cuts into next year barely impressed oil bulls – even less so given the apparent frictions at the heart of the group regarding this supply cut strategy when prices keep falling. The decline in oil prices continues this Monday. The barrel of US crude remained aggressively sold near the 200-DMA last week, and we are about to step into the $70/73pb region which should give some support to the market. With the clear deterioration of the positive trend, and the lack of any apparent boost to the oil market following last week’s OPEC meeting, there is a chance that we will see oil finish the year below the $70pb mark. An increasingly shaky OPEC unity, record US production, a slowing global economy, deteriorating global demand outlook and efforts to shift toward cleaner energy sources weigh heavier than the supply worries. As such, the $100pb level becomes an increasingly difficult target to reach. And even though the COP28 president Mr. Al Jaber said last weekend that there is ‘no science’ behind demands for phase-out of fossil fuels – yes 70’000 people flew to Dubai to hear that there is no evidence that fossil fuel is destroying climate – efforts to phase-out fossil fuel continues at full speed with solar panel installation surpassing the most optimistic estimates according to Climate Analytics.

In the FX, the US dollar’s positive attempt above the 200-DMA was halted by Powell’s speech on Friday – or more precisely by investors’ careful extraction of all the dovish elements in that Powell speech. Both the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Bank of Canada (BoC) will likely keep their rates unchanged this week, but the RBA will certainly sound hawkish faced with worries of ‘home-grown’ inflation. The AUDUSD stepped into the bullish consolidation zone following a 6+% jump since the October dip and could gather further strength this week. The EURUSD, on the other hand, remains under growing selling pressure despite FX traders’ hesitancy regarding what to do with the US dollar. The pair sank to 1.0830 on Friday and is preparing to test the 200-DMA, which stands near 1.0820, to the downside. The easing Eurozone inflation, along with slowing European economies, boost the dovish ECB expectations. The final PMI data will confirm further contraction in the Eurozone last month, as the Eurozone GDP read will likely confirm a 0.1% contraction last quarter. Coming back to the EURUSD, the pair will likely see a solid support near 1.0800/1.0820, which includes the 200-DMA and the major 38.2% Fibonacci retracement on October – November rebound. And clearing this support should pave the way for an extended selloff toward 1.0730.

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