Australian Labour Market Data Positive For AUD, Slightly Bearish For Rates

Australia’s labour market data for December came in exactly in line with expectations,

The data should be interpreted favourably for the currency and modestly bearish for rates, although the trajectory for RBA policy should remain unchanged for the time being.

In FX specifically, remains much more sensitive to broader risk sentiment (using the as a proxy) than any other G10 currency. As such, the apparently never-ending upside in US equities is providing strong support.

The US stock markets kicked off the Biden 46 era fashionably in vogue hitting record highs-But prompt oil prices look a tad vulnerable to profit-taking today.

Markets

Another up day for US equities, WednesdayS&P up around 1½% heading into the close and on track for another record high. Bonds notably sideways in contrast. US10yr yields again unchanged at 1.09%. Also, earnings reports underpinned equity sentiment. Netflix (NASDAQ:) rose 16% after noting its subscriber numbers increased by a record 37mn in 2020. Serenely, it seems lockdowns and TV go hand in hand.

The US stock markets kicked off the Biden era fashionably in vogue hitting record highs as the roller coaster beneath the surface continues, where today’s flavour saw Mega cap Tech and Growth (Software)stock flying off the shelves.

A testament to the maximum policy overdrive investors wasted little time getting their feet wet after Janet Yellen espoused by the Biden “go big” policy approach to repair the economic damage caused by the pandemic, which also highlights the importance of helping small businesses and the unemployed. Indeed, this provided both Main Street and Wall Street with the ultimate policy comforting blankets proactively layered on thick and fast as the Democrats will get the policy show on the road “tout suite.” 

With “retail” wagging the dog and risk control buying combined with continued strong seasonal inflows are keeping a bid to the market and forcing shorts to cover. While it looks like clear sailing on top, but underneath the surface moves are extreme. 

Stock markets continue to reflate post-inauguration with the consensus view now that US president-elect Biden’s early focus will be more on growth than tax hikes. The market is also seeing through longer lockdowns on the premise that COVID vaccinations will lead us out of the pandemic quickly.

Oil Markets

prices look a tad vulnerable to potential profit-taking after US crude stockpile bearishly rose 2.56 million against consensus draw. Simultaneously, the near-term China crude demand forecast looks high and susceptible to revision lower as lockdown spread in the country ahead of the Lunar New Year.

While oil traders see through longer lockdowns on the premise that Covid vaccinations will quickly lead us out of the pandemic, still COVID mobility clampdowns hurt the very near-term view. And since calls for a commodity supercycle have been many after the November vaccine turnaround, open interest in and has increased hugely, suggesting that the market remains very susceptible to any potential bearish headlines big or small, from a positioning perspective alone.

Predictably prices stalled a little with the catching a bid ahead of this week’s delayed inventory reports. And negative news on China didn’t sit well as authorities move to slow Lunar New Years travel via COVID-19 mobility restrictions—the Central Government has announced that everyone nationwide who wants to travel domestically for Chinese New Year needs to show proof of a negative COVID test in the last seven days testing agencies need to provide results within 12 hours. Local governments have been told to supervise those travellers.

However, investors remain absorbed on positive near-term trends highlighted by the Biden’s administration’s all-encompassing focus on public health and economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic as the expected time to normalize activity could improve significantly under the Biden administration. 

Indeed, there is no shortage of top-flight healthcare experts willing to work with Biden’s team. And if the healthcare and logistical communities can combine all forces and achieve the administration’s lofty vaccination targets, oil prices could fly.  

OPEC production at the moment remains well below the level required to meet anticipated demand. It should continue to drive a reduction in oil inventories as the global economy gradually recovers. Early indications for January OPEC export levels suggest a decline relative to December levels, which may also help support the oil price.

This week, IEA OMR lowered forecast 2021 bearishly for demand and the EIA DPR raised US shale production estimates. The OMR did highlight the counter decline in inventories in 4Q with ‘hefty draw-downs’ into the year-end, and the market appeared to cut off that.

Forex

Curveball city as the market continues to debate what the US yield curve means for the dollar while attempting to draw inferences from the Biden administration maximum overdrive policy in light of new administration favouring a market-determined dollar rather than advocating for strength or weakness. In one respect, Treasury Secretary Yellen could not have been clearer, noting that “the Biden administration won’t pursue a weak dollar.” 

G-10 FX trading has currently turned into an endless exercise of chasing a mechanical bunny rabbit around a greyhound track. 

History suggests that in short or even protracted periods of big-dollar directional confusion, value FX trades tend to dominate the picture. 

is sharply lower g, breaching support at 0.8860, though not on any apparent fundamental development other than COVID vaccinations. The UK is at the centre of “COVID vaccinations will lead us out of the pandemic theme”, where vaccination programmes are ramping up significantly.

The Ringgit

The Ringgit could consolidate around current level today as G-10 traders debate the US dollar’s near-term direction. 

The big dollar (USD) feels a bit directionless and compounding that listlessness. The oil market rally feels a bit exhausted in the face of possible near term China demand forecast getting revised lower due to the expanding lockdowns and policymakers are looking to temper LNY travel by requiring vaccination mobility passport. 

Gold

Not too unexpectedly bears were not keen to stand in front Janet Yellen, “go big” approach fiscal policy. Although the dollar hasn’t offered up much of a helping hand, US10yr yields are again unchanged, and this has allowed gold to float significantly higher on those “go big” policy balloons. And with both the FED and US Treasury signing from the same dovish policy home page, it provides an incredibly supportive bullion background.

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