US stocks are off their early morning highs but still traded firmly as enthusiasm around positive news on progress in developing a virus vaccine and robust macro data continues to float markets in rough seas as the worsening outlook on the virus front continues to churn in the background.
At one point, it was raining vaccines overnight and investors are still dancing in that rain.
The S&P500 closed on an upbeat note as US equities continued to defy all gravity as investor optimism revels amid the progress in developing a vaccine which continues to reign supreme.
Adding to the positive vibe, President Trump defused the US-China tensions and walked back an unwanted element of geopolitical risk that quite frankly no one wanted or needed at this point with COVID-19 ravaging large parts of the US consumer complex.
The President’s backpedalling is coming at a good time and keeping the omnipresent bears and prophets of doom at bay for now.
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But I think intraday action in US equities told us there is a combination of rotation and unwind talking place. The market initially had a tough time holding onto early gains.
Sticking strictly with price action, it suggests there are some fidgety concerns in those thematic “Long Momentum” and “Tech Baskets” that have gotten a bit frothy during the vaccine headline deluge since the actual end goal to get these vaccines out to the general public is still many months away in the best-case scenario.
Few in the medical community expect vaccines to be rolled out anytime soon. At the same time, comments from Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, though, provided that start reminder not to get too carried away.
Covid-19 vaccines under development are not guaranteed to work, and people who say to expect a vaccine before year-end are doing a “grave disservice to the public,” Frazier was quoted in earlier news reports.
What worries him is the pressure to move things along faster and faster to get back to normal.
“If you’re going to use a vaccine on billions of people, you better know what that vaccine does,” he said.
The most important question right now: Is this the beginning of something more substantial or just a small correction, as we have seen so many times over the past year as the wall of money remains firmly on the bid.
Is it time to put the seat belt on again? I do not know about you, but I have my seat belt on all the time when it comes to investing in the Covid-19 environment.
Forex: Profit-taking on the EURUSD
EURUSD has reached the Bloomberg consensus forecast for year-end today and given it is easy to poke holes in the Recovery Fund thesis, not to mention EU lawmaker’s uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory has likely encouraged some profit-taking on EURUSD longs.
But what started for some as little more than to buy the Euro into the EU summit, which was the most basic of FX trades from class 101. But with numerous bearish USD signals developing, we might be in the midst of a big broad dollar turn that is likely to continue throughout the year.
USDCNH moves south
Despite the uptick in US-HK geopolitical escalations, USDCNH has continued to move south as the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has taken an absolute hands-off approach to currency management this time around suggesting they are welcoming stock market inflows.
Indeed, China is open for business in more than just the industrial and consumer front. The domestic capital markets have rolled out the welcome mat.
US Fed’s continuing liquidity
As for the US Fed policy, it looks like rates will be low for as far as the eye can see, and they will only raise rates when the whites of inflations eyes are visible.
With the Fed providing ample liquidity, equities bid into every dip. The market is seemingly ignoring an increase in Covid-19 cases. It is making for a comfortable backdrop to stay short dollars.
Fed Governor Brainard went further than recent Fed speakers by endorsing yield-curve control, which would set the US dollar up for a more pronounced and broad-based weakness.
The push back on the short dollar trade is the US haven appeal. With pockets of the virus emerging everywhere, the narrative goes, a second wave will come back, global growth will be weak, and the dollar will again rally.
But this belies the fact that the world outside of the US has a much higher capacity to handle the virus, now limiting the economic damage.
Any which way you slice the cake on both the healthcare and the economic fronts, the US (both North and South) come out as big losers, while Europe and North Asia are the big winners.
Gold remains supported
Gold remains floated by long-term supportive factors but could be lacking the necessary fresh or “new” inputs to push prices above year highs.
US Fed speakers were all on the dovish side this week despite the improving macro scrim. But it was as Governor Brainard’s most interesting comments, though. She said there was a “thick fog of uncertainty” and “downside risks predominate.”
Financial support was vital, and she warned that it could be appropriate to shift the focus of monetary policy from stabilisation to accommodation.
The bigger picture for gold is that there is more to come on top of the WWII-sized stimulus already injected into the economy.
But without putting in some headroom above $1825, the market could still fall prey to technical and fast money selling as wealth management and strategic gold buying has dried up this week.
In other words, bids are not that big these days with long positions tapering positions as gold investors want to leave some room to buy on dips.
With US-China tensions getting diffused by President Trump it may give more cause to take some profits above $1800.
International markets analysis and insights from Stephen Innes, Chief Global Market Strategist at AxiCorp