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Strong pound caps FTSE gains

Firmer pound and subdued oil prices weigh on the FTSE.


WTI consolidated above the $46 level amid the API printed 5.79 million barrels fall in the US inventories last week. Today’s EIA data is expected to confirm the decline in oil inventories. The consensus is a contraction of 2 million barrels versus -900K printed a week earlier. Soft data could revive buyers and encourage a renewed positive attempt in WTI. The next positive target is seen at $47.78 (major 38.2% retrace on April – May drop).


Cable’s advance toward the 1.30 level dents the appetite and prevents the FTSE from gaining upside momentum, while soft expectations vis-à-vis Thursday’s Bank of England (BoE) meeting and the Quarterly Inflation Report (QIR) could bring in top-sellers if the pound succeeds to take over the 1.30-resistance.


The divergence between the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the BoE policy outlooks could prevent the pound from a mid-term bullish reversal. Therefore, the key resistance is eyed at 1.3044, the major 38.2% retracement on post-Brexit sell-off.



US dollar handed back to the bulls


The US dollar pared yesterday’s gains versus the G10 currencies in Asia, yet the improved optimism regarding the macro fundamentals are supportive of a stronger US dollar in the current circumstances. Federal Reserve (Fed) member Rosengren said that he would like the Fed to start shrinking the balance sheet soon and that the portfolio normalisation plans should not be disruptive for the rate normalisation strategy. The US 10-year yields tested the 2.40% for the first time since end of March.


The market expects the Fed to increase the interest rates by two to three more times this year. This equals 50 to 75 basis points rise respectively. Yet, the Fed fund futures currently price in 41 basis points increase only, suggesting that the FF futures and the US dollar have potential to absorb extra inflows. We reiterate that the probability of a June rate hike stands at 100%.



S&P500 renews record in low vol environment


North Korea’s announcement to carry a nuclear test and the FBI director James Comey’s sudden dismissal somewhat dented appetite in the US.


The S&P500 closed 2.46 points lower at $2’396 after hitting an all-time high ($2’403.87) in New York yesterday. The VIX index hit its lowest levels since 1993 and closed below 10%. The VIX at this low levels suggests that the market is clearly not hedged against an eventual pick-up in volatility. Therefore, the risk of a sharp pullback in the S&P500 is rising. Although nobody could tell whether the rise in the S&P500 stock prices is due to a bubble formation, we could at least tell that the price of hedging against an eventual correction is relatively low.  


The Dow Jones is called 55 points softer at $20’920 at the open.



Gold extends losses on improved yields


Gold extended losses to $1’214 in continuation of the bearish reversal following last week’s Fed meeting. Stronger negative trend and momentum indicators, combined to improved US yields, are supportive of a further slide toward the $1’200/$1’194.80 area (March support).



Shanghai’s Composite diverges negatively as Chinese PPI decelerates


Nikkei (+0.29%) and Topix (+0.22%) gained on softer yen, Hang Seng (+0.53%) advanced with industrials, financials, although the information technology stocks reversed earlier gains. Shanghai’s Composite (-0.90%) remained on the back foot.


Chinese consumer price inflation rose to 1.2% year-on-year in April, producer prices eased to 6.4%y/y from 7.6% due to falling commodity prices. There is a clear correlation between oil, iron ore prices and the factory-gate prices. The sharp downswing in producer prices hints at rising counterparty risks. In fact, the last six month’s reflation story may have increased the volatility risks to company profits, by inflating the producer prices first and bursting the price bubble afterwards. The latter inevitably increased the counterparty risks, as the low borrowing costs may have temporarily distorted the risk assessment for borrowers. We all know that China’s bad loan story is still a major concern for investors. This reasoning partly explains the lack of appetite in Shanghai’s Composite which have significantly diverged from its US, European and Japanese peer, especially since mid-April. As such, the current developments will likely refrain the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) from an impactful monetary tightening in the coming months. The Yuan is expected to remain under reasonable selling pressure versus the globally appreciating US dollar.