China tightens policy

Risk appetite has soured due to a combination of the rise in China’s reserve requirements, disappointing earnings including Alcoa and a profit warning by Chevron, setting the scene for a day in the red for Asian markets.  The turn in sentiment has hit commodities and commodity currencies particularly hard whilst the JPY has outperformed.  As would be expected against the background of higher risk aversion the US dollar made up some ground.

All eyes are on China and markets will now look to the implications for CNY policy.  Increasingly it seems that data and policy in China is driving global markets and aside from the hike in reserve requirements this was also evident in the fact that stronger trade data over the weekend helped to counter the impact of the soft US December payrolls report.  Further increases in the reserve ratio are likely over coming months followed by actual hikes in interest rates (likely the 1 year rate).  China’s move to tighten policy further over coming months will likely be accompanied by allowing greater appreciation of the CNY too.

The news worsened overnight as the ABC Consumer Confidence index dropped by 6 points to -47, the biggest one-week drop in the last 25 years.  US trade data also came in worse than expected, with the deficit widening to $36.4bn in November.  There is little on the data front today to keep markets occupied today, suggesting that direction will come from equity markets and with more earnings this week including Intel Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co. there will be plenty to digest.  In the near term the tone of risk aversion is set to continue to dominate but any pull back in risk currencies is likely to prove short-lived.   

There will be more Fed speakers as well as the Fed’s Beige Book today to provide clues ahead of the January 26-27 FOMC meeting.   Aside from noting some improvements in the economy, weak labour market conditions as well as a lack of inflationary pressures will help support expectations that the Fed will hold off from raising interest rates this year.   Fed speakers include Fisher and Plosser both of whom give speeches on the US economy though neither are current voters on the FOMC.   Plosser’s comments so far have highlighted the need for a timely “exit strategy”.

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2 Responses to “China tightens policy”

  1. Bernard Says:

    For long time Asia observers like myself this is not surprising that China becomes the focus again, some 200 years after it was once the world’s largest economy.

    I argue that one should be buying Renminbi/ Yuan now. My comments are posted on http://scepticalmarketobserver.blogspot.com


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