Market Madness Abates
ETFS Multi-Asset Weekly – Market Madness Abates
Commodities: China concerns overdone. The market clearly over-extrapolated the consequences of the Chinese equity market rout.
When China catches a cold…. Global markets initially reeled as Chinese equities plunged again.
Currencies: Volatile asset performance pushes rate expectations out further.
A volatile week saw the VIX rise over 40, an occasion last seen during the US federal debt ceiling impasse and European financial woes of 2011. The price of many cyclical assets fell sharply before rising once again. Unusual for the summer, the sharp declines in price were accompanied by high trading volumes, indicating that algorithmic trades were driving much of the action. Void of any fundamentals driving the decline, most assets recovered a significant portion of their losses, with some cyclical assets like oil, copper and US equities (S&P 500) ending the week higher.
China concerns overdone. The market clearly over-extrapolated the consequences of the Chinese equity market rout. Falling Chinese equity prices themselves are unlikely to impact the real economy in any significant way and therefore will have minimal impact on the country’s demand for raw materials. However, the spill-over effects of lower interest rates and liquidity injections could help commodity demand. After sharp declines in the first half of the week, industrial metal prices started to recover. Copper ended the week higher. Over the past three sessions, oil has rebounded 27%, driven by indications that OPEC may cut production, below-expectations US oil inventories and a downward revision in US oil production. Sugar gained 4.1% last week with a strengthening El Niño driving a poor monsoon in India. In the week to 26th August rainfall was 37% below normal, 12% below normal for the season as a whole.
When China catches a cold…. Global markets initially reeled as Chinese equities plunged again. Historically, Chinese and developed market equities have had a very low correlation and so last week’s moves were curious. By the end of the week, most developed markets recovered their losses. Last week’s rise in US equity market volatility was unmatched since 2011 when talk of a sovereign default was the only motivator to get the country’s debt ceiling extended. Chinese equities, the epicentre of last week’s saga, failed to recover. The MSCI China A-Share index fell 8.5% despite a cut in interest rates, a reduction in the reserve requirement ratio and further liquidity injections by the authorities. Excessive support for the equity market is distortionary and could hurt long-term performance. It would be better for the authorities to endure short-term volatility to pave the way for a more robust growth path.
Volatile asset performance pushes rate expectations out further. The probability of a rate hike in September fell further according to Fed Fund futures rates. While St. Louis Fed President James Bullard tried to distance the volatile asset markets from strong US fundamentals, William Dudley, New York Fed President conceded that the case to raise rates in September was less compelling. The US dollar has depreciated as the rate differentials narrowed. The Australian dollar and New Zealand dollar took the brunt of the pain from volatile commodity markets. Barring a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia this week, the AUD should recover alongside underlying commodities. Haven currencies such as the Japanese Yen and Swiss Franc appreciated amidst the market chaos, although gold failed to hold up gains seen in previous weeks. The ECB policy meeting and US payrolls data will remain the focus of the FX markets this week.
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