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Week Ahead – Brexit, Fed, BoC, BoJ and Earnings

Hugely busy week ahead

A fascinating week ahead as three major central banks hold monetary policy meetings, with two potentially pulling the trigger on a rate cut. The Fed is the most likely of these with markets pricing in more than a 90% chance of a third consecutive 25 basis point reduction. The meeting may come a little early for the BoJ but markets suggest a 20 basis point cut is in the offing.

  • Central banks take centre stage
  • Brexit goes into extra time
  • US jobs report caps off chaotic week

Brexit will dominate the UK headlines as we wait to find out how long an extension the country is going to be granted, with a flat rejection being highly unlikely. That may depend on whether Boris Johnson can convince Jeremy Corbyn to have an election, something that doesn’t come without its own demands, namely the complete removal of no deal and confirmation of an extension.

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It’s not often that earnings season and the trade war are further down the agenda, particularly moving into a heavy period for the former, but that looks to be the case next week. It’s been a mixed season so far not to mention an unusual one. It’s not often that Tesla significantly beats just before Amazon disappoints but that’s the world we now find ourselves in.

Finally we have the US jobs report which will bring an exciting end to an otherwise exhausting week.

Central Banks this week (for currencies that we offer):

  • Monday – No meetings
  • Tuesday – No meetings
  • Wednesday – Federal Reserve (90% chance of 0.25% cut), BoC (Canada)
  • Thursday – Bank of Japan (26% chance of 0.2% cut), CBRT meeting summary and inflation report
  • Friday – No meetings

Central Bank Speakers (at the time of writing)

  • Monday – No speeches
  • Tuesday – Philip Lowe (RBA Governor), Mark Carney (BoE Governor)
  • Wednesday – Jerome Powell (Fed Chair – Post Rate Decision), Stephen Poloz (BoC Governor – Post Rate Decision)
  • Thursday – Thomas Jordan (SNB Chair)
  • Friday – No speeches

Markets

The fate of the dollar could be decided by the upcoming Fed policy decision. While the market is fully pricing in a third consecutive rate cut, the odds for another cut in December have dropped to 40%. The Fed is likely to cut rates but possibly signal they will wait-and-see the impact of recent batch of cuts. Powell has highlighted Greenspan’s mid-cycle adjustment in the 1990s and we could see that remain the game plan.

The trade war should see incremental updates, but we may not see a major move until we get to the Trump-Xi meeting at the APEC summit next month.

The dollar has weakened significantly in the early part of October and we could see this recent rebound be short-lived if the deep pessimism for the global outlook eases. Bond yields remain near recent highs and if we don’t see another major downturn, we could see the dollar to remain very vulnerable.

The results of the Argentinean presidential elections are almost a foregone conclusion at this point. Barring a shock outcome, Alberto Fernandez will take over from Mauricio Macri following the path set by the former’s solid victory in the primaries.

The IMF has withheld the next tranche of its loan to Argentina awaiting to have assurances from the new government before releasing the funds.

The Mexican peso has appreciated in October on the back of rising optimism of a trade deal between the US and China. The liquidity of the MXN makes it sensitive to regional risk events and could trade lower if the elections and official statements fail in Argentina fail to deliver confidence for investors.

A default on its debt by Argentina is not a new item, but it has gained traction despite the best efforts of the current government, the IMF and even the candidate most likely to lead the next government.

Contagion risks are high as confidence in the region would suffer if the US-China trade war remains active. The IMF will not make a decision until holding formal talks with Fernandez, with uncertainty remaining high.

Libra back in the news this week after Mark Zuckerberg appeared in Washington. The anti-Libra sentiment was clear from Congress which has knocked sentiment in the crypto space.

Bitcoin has been quiet by its own standards over the last month prior to Zuckerberg’s appearance. The latest drop may spur it back to life.

Oil prices have been rising towards the back end of the week aided by a surprise inventory drawdown on Wednesday. Oil has been gradually rising since testing its summer lows. Remains vulnerable to global growth worries and further attacks in the middle east.

Gold has been creeping off its lows but is still struggling to gather any upward momentum. A softer dollar has aided the resilience in the yellow metal but it continues to linger around $1,500. Gold volatility has been relatively muted but the risk environment remains fragile.

Politics

The UK remains in limbo as the country waits to hear whether its extension will be accepted and how long it will be.

Boris Johnson has proposed to Labour that in exchange for an election on 12 December, he will extend the timetable for the Brexit bill until 6 November. Labour expected to respond on Monday once extension from EU becomes clear.

It’s unclear when the EU will respond as there’s apparently a dispute around whether to offer the full three months or just a couple of weeks, reportedly favoured by France. It’s extremely unlikely it will be rejected altogether but the currency remains volatile.

Impeachment inquiries or the narrowing of the Democratic field will likely see limited impact in the short-term. Financial market participants’ concerns over an Elizabeth Warren presidency have eased.

If Elizabeth Warren can reset her campaign and become the favorite for becoming the next President, we could see that derail the bullish case for a much higher stock market in 2020.

The economic impact of the ongoing protests is starting to be felt. Office occupancy by mainland Chinese tenants in Central area has slumped to just 14% compared with 58% in 2018 and 57% in 2017. September average office vacancy rates across the whole of Hong Kong have almost doubled to a 14-year high of 7.4% compared to a year ago.

The next set retail sales data for Sep are due Friday November 1 and are unlikely to improve from August’s -23% slump. Q3 GDP data is due on November 15.

Tear gas is regularly used to disperse protesters, “mob violence” has seemingly taken over. The risk of a “heavy-handed” response from China grows steadily. The Hang Seng is holding up relatively well while USD/HKD is constantly knocking on the 7.85 trading band upper limit.

It all comes down to whether US and China can agree terms to the “Phase One” trade deal ahead of a scheduled meeting between Xi and Trump next month. Data-wise, the first PMIs for October come on Thursday and Friday with initial forecasts suggesting a weaker number.

Weak economic data out of China has a serious knock-on effect for most of Asia, who rely heavily on exports to China. It’s also likely to filter down to slower global growth.

It’s been a bit quiet on the war-mongering front. North Korea‘s Kim Jong-Un has said he has a “good” relationship with Trump, whatever that means. Frictions with the South are increasing, but likely to remain localised for now.

A potential trade spat between India and Malaysia has been avoided, all related to palm oil. The border dispute hasn’t hit the headlines recently, so appears to be let to simmer.

An escalation of friction between the two neighbours could hit risk appetite in the region and force superpowers from both East and West to be dragged into the skirmish and forced to choose sides. That would be a huge negative for risk appetite.

Quarterly CPI data on Wednesday could be a market mover, but it’s not the RBA’s major focus at the moment. Prices have been trending lower since Q2 last year. Weak CPI data could give the RBA more wiggle space for rate cuts, which would be AUD negative.

Protests in the capital Santiago shocked markets given the relative stability of Chile. Poverty levels are way ahead of the region, but inequality after a metro rate increase sparked protests that have backed the government into a corner after earlier mishandling of the situation.

If protests continue, Chilean markets will continue to suffer despite improved risk appetite. Copper prices have risen as Chilean mine union have joined the protests by halting production on certain dates. Chile is a major producer of the red metal.

The Brazilian Central Bank will announce the benchmark interest rate on Wednesday, October 13. The central bank has been slashing the interest rate aggressively since the start of the year. Inflation remains tame, leaving the BCB with the flexibility to keep cutting. The BCB is anticipated to cut the benchmark rate by 50 basis points.

The Central Bank of Colombia will announce its rate decision on Thursday, October 31. The central bank is not as likely to join the global path of lower rates this year, but given how inflation has been trickling lower it would not be a shock.

A rate cut in Colombia is not expected, but given the low inflation pressures it would not be a complete shock, given regional and global central bank.

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