Finance World

Leaving a troubled summer behind

We are emerging from a particularly eventful summer in the markets. We have seen the Argentine peso tumble, falling 50% year-to-date together with the Turkish lira which lost 38% of its value against the greenback, provoking a deep sell-off in sovereigns of these countries. Although things appear to have started to stabilise again, the reality remains alarming. Turkish political uncertainty continues to daunt investors, while in Argentina the $57.1 billion credit line provided by the International Monetary Fund may not be enough to pull the country out of its political and economic difficulties.

The commodity sector remains on the defensive with rising supply hurting a diversified group of raw materials from crude oil to grains. Growth concerns in the world’s two biggest economies into 2019 put industrial and semi-precious metals under pressure while gold struggled to build on the recent recovery amid a strong dollar with a hawkish Federal Open Market Committee staying on course to hike rates further over the coming months.  

Global stock markets bounced and the dollar weakened following comments from President Trump that trade discussions with China were “moving along nicely” and after he supposedly, and later denied, ordered a draft of a US-China deal. Commodities struggled despite the weaker dollar with crude oil heading for its worst week since February in response to rising production and a potential lower-than-expected Iran sanctions impact.

Crude oil began the post-midterm election day on the defensive. Not so much due to the result, however, which for a change yielded no major surprises. The Democrats failed to create the "Blue Wave" while the Republicans saw no "Red Repeat", and the Democrats took the House. 

The US Treasury market set the investment world on edge in early October when long US Treasury yields climbed to new multi-year highs – the US 10-year benchmark cleared 3.13% for the first time in more than seven years, and the big 30-year T-bond yield passed the massive 3.25% yield for the first time since early 2014, a level it had approached on no less than four occasions since late 2016. Driving the move was a spate of strong US data and Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell suggesting that the Fed funds rate is “nowhere near neutral” in offhand comments. The reactivity of the US dollar to developments in US yields has been an on-again, off-again affair, but a sharp rise in US yields in late Q3, after strong wage inflation data were reported for August, resulted in a weaker dollar for much of September.