August 18, 2020: Global financial markets traded in a narrow range on Tuesday, with the dollar under pressure on concerns over the US economic outlook while tech stocks continued higher on the belief they will fare best in the new coronavirus era.
Strong US building start data for July provided some support but on its own was not enough to ease worries about the economy as US-Chinese tensions spike and Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over a new virus recovery package.
The dollar tested two-year lows as a result, with sentiment on the currency hit by fears the US snap-back from the pandemic is already running out of steam.
Additionally, markets are anxious because the US central bank is committed to providing as much cheap money as needed to bolster the economy absent another stimulus package.
“The dollar continues to fall with investors expecting the Fed to maintain its expansionary monetary policy for a long time owing to concerns the persistence of COVID-19 will weigh on the economic recovery,” noted Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst with ThinkMarkets.
“The greenback is also suppressed because of the lack of (safe)haven demand for the reserve currency, with investors evidently favouring foreign currencies, gold and bitcoin,” he added.
– Trade, stimulus tensions –
Washington-Beijing tensions took a new twist with the US expanding sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to further limit its access to computer chips and other US-made products.
The two rivals' “Phase 1” trade deal agreed at the beginning of the year appears safe — but that could change.
“For the moment, the fact the… trade deal remains in place, and will do while the two sides choose not to hold their six-month review that was to have taken place last weekend, is seen as overriding the building evidence of a technology cold war now under way,” said National Australia Bank's Ray Attrill.
Analysts said there was not too much concern about possible tax hikes if Joe Biden beats President Donald Trump in the race for the White House.
The Democratic Convention kicked off Monday with the theme being that Biden will be good for the economy, said Edward Moya at OANDA.
“Wall Street seems convinced that Biden's tax policy will not kill the stock market… a Biden presidency could offer greater certainty and stability for the economy,” Moya added.
– Key figures around 1600 GMT –
- London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 6,100.66 points
- Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 12,881.76 points
- Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.7 percent at 4,938.06
- EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.7 percent at 3,283.22
- New York – Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 27,813.12
- Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 23,051.08 (close)
- Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 25,367.38 (close)
- Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,451.09 (close)
- Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1930 from $1.1876 at 2050 GMT
- Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.41 yen from 105.99 yen
- Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3227 from $1.3107
- Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.18 pence from 90.58 pence
- West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.4 percent at $42.63 per barrel
- Brent North Sea crude: FLAT at $45.35 per barrel