Well, that was fun. Can you believe the first trading quarter has already come and gone?
I hope you caught tons of pips in the first three months of the year!
If you’re ready for more trading action though, then let’s take a look at the 6 economic themes you should watch out for in Q2 2017:
Recall that U.S. assets popped higher after Trump won the U.S. elections on the premise that he would “Make America Great Again” by prioritizing American goods and jobs. His campaign promises to ease taxes and implement infrastructure projects were also like honey to market bees.
But while market uptrends remained (mostly) intact in Q1, the roads were far from smooth. Issues such as Trump’s travel bans, Cabinet picks, his blunt messages to Uncle Sam’s trade partners and major corporations, and even the GOP’s Healthcare Bill brouhaha have all distracted investors and inspired uncertainty and risk aversion at one point or another.
Will the Trumphoria regain its legs? Q2 will be the time for Trump to walk the talk. Specifically, market players will need to see considerable progress on his tax (no, not his tax returns) and infrastructure plans to sustain the positive market momentum.
Traders will also pay close attention to how Trump would deal with Uncle Sam’s trade agreements as well as the dollar’s strength. Threats against Uncle Sam’s major trade partners will not only likely affect the dollar, but also the domestic currencies of the countries that he’ll talk (or tweet) about.
OPEC production cut deal
Remember when low inflation was a pain in the central banks’ behinds? This old guy remembers.
Thanks to the OPEC production cut deal though, oil prices were pushed higher and consumer prices have seen improvements, at least enough for central banks to take breathers from their rate cuts.
Thing is, there’s a pretty good chance that oil prices will fall back down again. See, oil players now have two concerns over the deal:
First, are members REALLY complying with the cuts? And second, are their cuts enough to rebalance the market especially now that a major player *cough* U.S. *cough* is producing oil like there’s no tomorrow?
OPEC members (and some non-members) will meet again in June and, right now, many are expecting them to extend the deal by another six months. Expect to see more volatility as we know more about how much other countries want to sign the dotted line again!
As Mark Carney put it, the Brexit journey “is really just beginning.” Triggering Article 50 is the easy part. The challenging (and more important) part is the actual divorce.
All eyes will be on how the EU will deal with Britain’s exit. Will it be a bitter divorce with the union making it painful for the U.K.’s economy? Or will May score good enough deals to pacify concerned investors?
The process will take years yet, but you can bet your pips (with proper risk management practices, of course) that Brexit-related headlines will continue to dominate the pound’s price action in the next couple of months.
Fed’s pace of tightening
After raising rates last December, Fed members took opportunities left and right to communicate that they CAN stick to the plan of raising interest rates thrice in 2017.
In fact, they were so effective in conveying their hawkishness that market players were disappointed that they didn’t level up their hawkishness in their March statement even though they DID raise rates as hinted. Talk about hyping up an idea!
Word around the hood is that the Fed will raise rates again in June. Not everyone is convinced, however. For one thing, some members have admitted that they’ve already factored in Trump’s fiscal stimulus plans in their decisions even as the POTUS has yet to make his moves.
Over the next couple of weeks we’ll see if Yellen and her team will maintain their hawkishness or if they will control their rhetoric to match Trump’s schedule, the dollar’s overbought conditions, or the overall market sentiment.
“Super Election Year”
As I’ve mentioned before, the uncertainty surrounding the Euro Zone’s “Super Election Year” could cost the common currency a pip or two (or eight hundred) over the next couple of months.France is now under the spotlight as voters count down to the first round of voting on April 23.
Emmanuel Macron is currently in the lead though market players have learned to trust nothing and no one but the final results.
Will Marine Le Pen pull a Trump and steal the show in the end? And if she does, will she REALLY push for a Frexit?
Those are the questions that will likely pull the euro in either direction in the next couple of weeks, fellas!
Other central banks’ biases
What’s a trading quarter without some action from the major central banks, amirite? T
he Fed and it’s 3-rate-hikes-in-2017 plan might be the most closely-watched, but other central bankers won’t be far behind in terms of headline-making.
The BOE’s MPC members, for example, now have a dissenter in their midst who’s calling for a rate hike.
Ditto for one BOJ member, who believes that the central bank can live a little and allow its yield curve target to become “a little bit steeper” than its “almost zero” targets.
Meanwhile, an ECB board member is now urging the central bank to prepare for tightening “as soon as the data is stable.”
And while central banks like the RBA, BOC, RBNZ, and SNB don’t look like they’re planning anything major in the next few months, any sharp moves in their domestic currencies and/or commodity prices will likely change their tune faster than you can say “pips.”