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Whitehall versus the White House

Trade issues continue to dominate markets in the lead up to Friday’s G-20 meeting. The British pound slumped again and the US dollar rose as currency traders assessed comments from Whitehall and the White House. Bonds steadied and stocks were mixed as investors focussed on domestic exposures. Sagging industrial commodities point to ongoing growth concerns, and cryptocurrencies languished at twelve month lows.

US president Trump suggested British PM May’s Brexit proposal may mean disruption to UK/US trade. Although May hit back, suggesting Trump has the wrong end of the stick, currency traders appeared to side with the White House. Sterling fell around one US cent. Copper, lead, zinc and aluminium prices shed between one and two percent as the trans-Atlantic imbroglio unfolded.

European bourses suffered modest losses. However comments from White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow that there is a good possibility of a trade deal with China turned sentiment, and the Dow Jones Industrial index jumped from a two hundred point loss to close more than one hundred points higher. Despite the conflicting results investors on both continents focussed on domestic exposures, and consumer staples, utilities and real estate performed best.

Asia Pacific investors are facing modest opening gains, with potential for further support from lower local currencies. Trading will likely be cautious due to elevated headline risk in both directions. Australian investors await today’s release of third quarter construction work performed, expected to show a slowing increase of 0.9%, down from 1.6% previously.

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