Following the initial shock of the US tariff announcement, markets are showing signs of settling down to wait on the detail of what policy is actually put in place.
Volatility remains higher than it was two months ago. The upshot of this is that a flat finish in US markets will translate into a stronger open for the ASX 200 this morning. Yesterday’ concerns over the possible longer-term implications of Mr. Cohn’s exit from the Administration have been replaced by today’s focus on what steel and aluminium tariff policy will materialise in the near term.
The immediate focus for markets is likely to be the extent of carve outs from the proposed US tariffs on steel and aluminium. Statements by the White House Press Secretary indicate there are likely to be exclusions for allies like Canada and Mexico on national security grounds. Although, these may not be included in the initial proclamation, they could have the impact of significantly watering down the impact of these tariffs and therefore the potential for a trade war.
Bluescope Steel may get some buyer support today as markets become more confident about the potential for tariff exclusions.
Even if there is a relatively favourable outcome on the detail of steel tariffs, the wider issue of the potential for broader tariffs aimed at China be a background concern for markets and a source of potential volatility over coming months.
Overnight weakness in oil and industrial metals prices is a likely headwind for the ASX 200 rally today. While concern over tariffs is an issue for metals prices, recent softness also reflects a marginal wind back of confidence as China gets back to business after the New Year