Intraday Market Thoughts Archives

Displaying results for week of Sep 15, 2019

Oil Tests Trump & Powell Resolve

Sep 17, 2019 13:24 | by Adam Button

The latest rise in oil prices may jeopardize the already complicated balancing act at the Fed (between containing manufacturing deterioration from the trade war) and Trump's managing of Saudi and Iran without provoking further price ascent. Yet, the US administration continues to send signals about reprisals against Iran and that helped crude to its 4th best day on record Monday. US crude oil is currently trading at $62 (from an earlier $63.38), while Brent is at $68.10 (from $71.95 earlier). CAD loses half of its gains as US equity futures head into the red. EUR is the strongest of the day after better than expected ZEW sentiment survey. Data points on Tuesday include US industrial production and homebuilder sentiment. The Premium JPY trade was stopped out, leaving only 1 trade in progress. A new trade shall be issued ahead of the US opening bell.

Click To Enlarge
Oil Tests Trump & Powell Resolve - Oil Crude Xle Uso Sep 17 2019 (Chart 1)

Oil finished Monday with an astounding $8 rally in the largest percentage climb since 2009 and fourth-highest on record. The attack on Iran sets in motion a wild amount of possibilities, including war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Trump's response has pointed the finger at Iran but stopped short of anything definitive. So far in his Presidency, he has largely ignored the drums of war and his firing of John Bolton underscored that just a week ago. Not to mention the fact, Congress is will unlikely authorise a strike on Iran.

Feel free to participate in this open discussion about oil, Trump, Fed & USD.

This time, he's hinting that action may be in order but his tepid response so far suggests it may be limited. That may mean a further escalation down the line but if so, the market will revert to a focus on fundamentals and the ability of Aramco to bring production back online. On that front, reports vary widely with some suggesting nearly all of it could be restored in two weeks while others say it could be months.

Oil Complicates Fed Odds

Expect oil headlines to be a major factor in the days ahead but the Fed remains a key input. The odds of a cut fell to 95% from 100% a week ago. The oil jump complicates the decision because it creates a series of pros and cons. Higher gasoline prices for consumers and geopolitical uncertainty are negatives, but higher inflation and more investment/profits from US oil firms are positives. Ultimately, it's more of a reason to cut 25 bps as anticipated while sticking with a wait-and-see statement and message. Also, pay attention to the dissent and whether St Louis Fed president Bullard shall stick to his position of demanding a 50-bp rate cut after the oil spike.

Saudi Strike Upends More Than Oil

Sep 16, 2019 11:55 | by Adam Button

Oil prices are up 8%, paring earlier gains of nearly 20% seen at the Asia open following the wide-ranging attack on Saudi oil infrastructure. The price spike signalled geopolitical worries rather than a loss of production. The chart below shows the attack caused the biggest supply disruption in history, exceeding supply shocks caused by the Iran revolution and the Arab oil embargo. JPY and CAD are today's FX winners, but gold and silver are up against all currencies, recovering from last week's metals slump. The Empire Fed (ISM from NY Fed) is due later, but world markets remain fixated on the US and Saudi response. Do not forget Tuesday's UK Supreme Court ruling on whether PM Johnson's prorogation of Parliament was legal. Then, all eyes shift to Wednesday's Fed decision and Trump's reactions. The Premium oil short was stopped out, leaving two existing trades in progress. New tactical Premium trades will be issued over the next two days.

Click To Enlarge
Saudi Strike Upends More Than Oil - Oil Disruptions (Chart 1)

Japanese markets were closed to start the week but that did nothing to stop a wild open. Brent rose as much as $11.70 to hit $71.95 – the highest since late-May. WTI hit $63.54. Dow and S&P futures were down by as much as 200 and 25 pts respectively before stabilizing.

The attacks cut Saudi production roughly in half, taking 5.7 million barrels per day out of service. Videos of the facilities showed massive fires and report said it will take “weeks not days” to fully restore operations. At the same time, some (if not most) of the production could be restored within a week.

Given ample supplies and reserves globally – including large amounts of oil in storage in Saudi Arabia – the moves in oil cannot be justified by fundamentals. Instead, it's the geopolitical risk that goes along with the attacks, as signified by the $20 jump in gold prices in early trading.

Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, and if that's the case, it marks a leap forward in their offensive capabilities, proving a continuous threat to Saudi oil. The US, however, insisted on blaming Iran, which could lead to US and Saudi strikes in retaliation – something that risks sparking open war. US Secretary of State Pompeo openly pointed the finger at Tehran, but so far the President Trump has refrained from doing the same. If he does, it may signify an imminent reprisal. So far he has said the US is 'locked and loaded' for a response but wants to hear from Saudi Arabia first.

In FX, the Canadian dollar is the early leader with the yen and Swiss franc both attracting bids. The US dollar is generally stable elsewhere. It also adds a wrinkle to Fed thinking. Higher gasoline prices are undoubtedly inflationary but the attacks add a further geopolitical risk.

There are still some final data points for the FOMC to consider as well, including Monday's Empire Fed. The consensus is for a +4.0 reading.