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Markets Bounce as News Wears Thin; Pound Nerves Show Ahead of May’s Showdown

US equities tumbled on the open and languished at lower levels across the session, as trade war fears lingered. The Dow dived 300 points in its 6th straight session of losses as the reality of a trade war sunk in. The S&P dropped 0.4% whilst the Nasdaq gave up 0.3%, both recovering from earlier 1% falls. Perhaps the most ironic part of Trump’s trade game is that he could end up doing a great deal of damage to US firms which look towards China for impressive sales.

 

The markets have been trading on the same piece of general trade war news for a while, as a result, selling exhaustion has started to set in. Asian markets are seen moving higher overnight and European bourses are also expected to push northwards on the open, although the gains are making up a fraction of what the losses totalled over the previous few sessions. Any fresh news of retaliation could see traders snatch risk back off the table quickly.

 

Dollar Remains Firm, For Now

The dollar is a standout winner from the escalating trade conflict, benefiting from its safe haven status. However, this flow could be short-lived if and when it becomes clear that Trump’s trade war is a direct threat to the stability and economic growth of the US economy.

 

May’s Crunch Vote in the Commons

Pound traders are preparing themselves for another perilous session as Theresa May is expected to face Conservatives rebels in a showdown in the Commons. The Brexit Bill returns to the lower house with both Tory rebels and Theresa May refusing to back down over giving Parliament more of a say should the UK leave the EU without a deal. It remains unclear whether May can pull this one out the bag and as a result, the pound is shifting nervously lower as we head towards the European open

The “meaningful vote” amendment is widely considered a backstop to prevent the UK from crashing out of the EU with no deal agreed. Ironically the Bill returns to the Commons to a backdrop of an increasing possibility of no deal being reached, particularly given that progress on Ireland is reportedly as good as non-existent.

 

Goodbye May, Goodbye the pound?

The big question going into the crunch vote is if May loses will it be the end of her and goodbye to the pound? Probably not. There will, of course, be a sterling sell-off and fury directed at May for her lack of vision and not bringing her MP’s with her. However, even the most ardent of Brexiters would have problems pushing Brexit legislation through with the minority government. With 9 months to go to Brexit, it’s too late to switch captain. Therefore, whilst the vote will attract significant attention we don’t see an embarrassing loss as a motive to push the pound sub $1.30 – that could come from an excessively dovish BoE on Thursday.

 

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