Trade war back on the radar for emerging markets as dollar lurks
Emerging-market traders have been jolted back to reality this week after U. S. President Trump reminded markets that a trade deal with China isn’t finalized yet.
Trump over the weekend increased the pressure on China to wrap up a trade deal with a threat to levy new tariffs on the country’s goods. Investor anxiety, as measured by the offshore yuan’s one-week implied volatility, was headed for the biggest increase since the aftermath of China’s shock devaluation of its currency in August 2015.
“Markets are considering on the possible breakdown in U. S.-Sino trade talks,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda Corp. in Singapore. “President Trump has seriously raised the stakes in this week’s round of the U. S.-China trade talks in Washington.”
A spate of country-specific events will also divert market participants from their obsession with the dollar this week. Center-stage is South Africa’s May 8 election, which may determine whether President Cyril Ramaphosa can deliver on pledges to revive the $350 billion economy. The rand is starting to swing ahead of the vote: the currency’s implied volatility had the biggest jump in emerging markets last week.
Elsewhere, interest-rate decisions from at least seven central banks will concentrate minds, with Malaysia and the Philippines set to ease in the wake of the U. S. Federal Reserve’s message of patience last week. Just as China’s stock markets were opening, the People’s Bank or China announced it would inject 280 billion yuan ($41 billion) of longer term funds by lowering the proportion of deposits smaller banks need to lock away.
Adding to the mix, Turkey’s top electoral body will decide whether to nullify the result of Istanbul municipal election as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party fights to regain control of the city. And Argentina releases data on construction and industrial production, with President Mauricio Macri trying to shore up support ahead of the October election.
Investors will be watching for “the impact on risk sentiment from the events above as well as the movement of dollar against emerging-market currencies, which will be the turning point” for the market, said Esther Law, a London-based senior investment manager at Amundi Asset Management who, though cautious in the near term, still sees value in select emerging-market bonds and currencies following their recent selloff.
- China’s foreign ministry said that officials were still planning to travel to the U. S. for the next round of talks — but was unable to confirm when amid signs that a delay is now being considered
- Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He was scheduled to arrive in Washington on May 8 with a delegation of about 100 people for what had been shaping up to be possibly the final round of negotiations.U. S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Beijing last week for talks they described as productive
South Africa Votes
- Money managers and analysts have said a strong showing for the ruling African National Congress, potentially exceeding 60 percent of Wednesday’s vote, should boost stocks by strengthening Ramaphosa’s ability to drive improvements in Africa’s most-industrialized economy. But opinion polls show differing pictures of ANC support, ranging from 51 percent to 61 percent
- The rand-dollar’s one-week implied volatility jumped more than 20 percent last week, the most since February
- “We have long been in the camp that South Africa’s local bonds and the rand are inexpensive, but unlocking that value requires better domestic macro outcomes,” strategists including New York-based Zach Pandl wrote in a May 3 report
- “An obstacle to achieving these has come from the negative power supply shocks at Eskom, and tackling the issues there decisively will be an important first marker on the efficacy of the new government and on the ability of South African assets to outperform”
- Bank Negara Malaysia could ease on Tuesday as both growth momentum and inflation have been lackluster, Mustafa Arif, a junior economist in Bengaluru at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., wrote in a report
- A rate cut by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which meets on Thursday, can come “much, much faster” after S&P Global Ratings raised the country’s credit grade, Governor Benjamin Diokno said last week. Policy makers at the Bank of Thailand convene on Wednesday
- Policy makers in Brazil, Chile and Peru are expected to stand pat on interest rates this week. Brazil, which decides on Wednesday, will probably keep rates at an all-time low of 6.5 percent amid uncertainty about the pace of the government’s pension overhaul
- Chile is set to pause again Thursday after two hikes in the past seven months took the key rate to 3 percent. Inflation is close to the bottom of a target range as growth weakens. Peru is also scheduled to announce its decision on Thursday, holding steady at 2.75 percent as growth remains subdued while inflation stays near the target
- Serbia’s central bank will probably also keep rates unchanged
Thai Vote Results
- Thailand’s Election Commission may announce from May 7 the official results of an inconclusive March 24 election that followed five years of military rule. Parliament will convene 15 days after that announcement to begin the process of selecting a prime minister.
Chinese Data, Brazil’s Pension Saga:
- China will unveil a slew of data in the coming week, including trade and and inflation for April. Export growth could have moderated after a strong reading in March, as suggested by the recent contraction in South Korean exports and Taiwan’s export orders, according to ANZ
- The release of GDP figures will dominate the economic calendar in Southeast Asia. Indonesia reported on Monday its economy grew 5.07 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, slower than the 5.2 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists and the 5.18 percent pace in the prior quarter. The Philippines is due to report on Thursday
- Brazil’s pension saga continues as a special lower house committee starts meeting on Tuesday. It’s a new phase in the bill’s legislative process that may lead to changes to some of the proposal’s central points
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