Thursday, 1 November 2018

OCTOBER: A MONTH TO FORGET

Global equity markets ended a scary October on a slightly brighter note following a rebound on Wall Street during the final two trading days of the month.  The Dow Jones industrial average rallied 933 points from Monday’s lows, the S&P 500 bounced more than 4%, and similarly the heavy Tech weighted Nasdaq composite bounced 5.5% after a 14.4% decline.

Robust corporate earnings and bargain hunting for undervalued stocks led the pullback, but the fundamental story hasn’t changed a lot yet. U.S. interest rates remain on the rise, trade tensions are not over, and global economic growth still looks weak. This will create a tricky environment for investors on whether to focus on the macro outlook or valuations which are becoming much more reasonable than a year ago. What investors may be certain about is for volatility to remain elevated especially with the U.S. midterm elections is just around the corner.

Despite the rally in equities, the Dollar rose to its strongest level in 16 months, reaching a high of 97.20 on Wednesday. The Greenback was supported by a larger than expected ADP employment report showing the U.S. private sector payrolls increased by 227,000 in October, the highest in eight months. However, the Greenback couldn’t hold its gains today as many major currencies reached significant support levels, particularly the Euro. For the Dollar to keep rallying it requires Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report to beat economists’ expectations, especially on wages. If wage growth accelerates further the Federal Reserve may have no excuse to turn less hawkish, thus providing further push to U.S. Treasury yields.

The Pound rallied sharply today on reports that Theresa May had struck a deal with Brussels for British financial services companies to continue operating in European markets after Brexit. However, with the U.K. remaining far from striking an agreement to resolve the Irish border issue, the currency gains may quickly evaporate. Traders’ attention will turn to the Bank of England monetary policy decision today which is expected to keep interest rates on hold. While Marc Caney’s speech and the Quarterly Inflation Report may move the Pound slightly, it’s still all about the Brexit deal that will decide the fate of the currency.