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Political threats

Globally and locally the spectre of political unrest is haunting investors. The conviction of two associates of President Trump on separate matters pre-empted a cautious trading session where both the US dollar and top stocks fell. In Australia fervid speculation about the government’s leadership has induced two underperforming sessions so far this week.

The overall impulse is modestly positive. European shares rallied, bonds marked time, and oil surged more than $2 per barrel as data showed higher than expected usage. Futures markets are pointing to opening gains of around 0.33% for Asia Pacific markets. Higher local currencies have potential to undermine gains, as does the wall-to-wall coverage coming from Canberra.

The Australian energy sector may indicate whether local political threats can outweigh the positive international impulse. The sector came under heavy pressure as it became clear political turmoil means it’s unlikely there will be an energy policy framework anytime soon. The better than 3% overnight gains for crude oil are supportive, and the sector’s loss or gain today will give clues to investor thinking.

More than 75% of top Australian companies have unveiled earnings this season showing 7% sales growth and almost 13% earnings growth. Today 20 more corporates will front shareholders. They include Qantas, South 32 and Nine Entertainment.

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