Today’s policy easing in China is likely to lift commodities that were underperforming due to fears of weak demand from their largest consumer. Chinese equity markets had already pre-emptied such a move and had rallied last week…..
Oil traded higher last week on optimism that supply could tighten after US inventories increased at the slowest rate all year. As a result, commodity currencies such the Norwegian Krone and Canadian Dollar benefited. The somewhat premature rally may see a correction if hard numbers fail to follow the optimism.
Premature crude oil rebound on lower inventory build. Last week we saw the lowest weekly increase in US crude inventories this year. It was taken as a sign that the glut in oil production is starting to come under control. Both Brent and WTI gained approximately 10% on the news. However, the market appears to be overlooking the OPEC report out last week which highlighted that the cartel’s production surged by 810,000 barrels per day in March. The global oil glut looks far from being under control and the OPEC cartel’s quest for market share is likely to lead to a pull-back in prices in the short-term. Tin fell by close to 10% last week as Chinese tin production rose to the highest level since 1997. Wheat fell 5.1% as more rain than expected fell in the US in key growing areas.
Policy easing expectations drive MSCI China A higher. The MSCI China A-share index rose 5.6% last week. Even though Q1 2015 GDP met the target of 7%, industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment all came in below expectations last week, increasing the odds that that People’s Bank of China will need to lower the policy setting. By the weekend the PBoC announced that it will reduce the reserve requirement ratio (RRR, the amount banks have to hold in reserves with the central bank and hence cannot lend out). The RRR still remains very high by international standards and we believe the PBoC will cut the RRR further. European bourses generally traded lower as negotiations between Greece and its international lenders drag on. The Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers is due to meet on April 24th to discuss the reforms needed in return for further aid. The success or lack thereof will determine whether optimism in European markets will return this week.
Oil rebound lifts the Canadian Dollar and Norwegian Krone. Both the Canadian and the Norwegian economies are strongly linked to the health of the oil market. With oil prices in sharp decline in recent months, it is no surprise that the currencies of both countries have been poor performers. The lowest US crude inventory build was a shot in the arm for the Canadian Dollar (CAD) and the Norwegian Krone (NOK), it could be short-lived as the rally appears somewhat overdone in the near-term and net short futures positions are lengthening for CAD. Option pricing indicates that NOK is the most likely to decline against the USD. Meanwhile, the UK elections are likely to be the main focus for British Pound (GBP) investors, and the latest polls indicate that the result remains finely balanced. Election uncertainty will be a negative for GBP, so if volatility continues to rise, expect recent GBP gains to be quickly unwound.