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Sell the trade fact

By Michael McCarthy (chief market strategist, CMC Markets and Stockbroking)

After popping champagne corks near all-time highs last week Asia Pacific investors are bracing for a sell down today. Steady currency and industrial commodity markets could limit losses. However ongoing support for defensive assets such as gold and bonds point to increasing nervousness ahead of this Wednesday’s scheduled signing of the phase-one deal.

US President Trump cavilled on the date over the weekend, saying the trade deal may be signed shortly after 15 January. US shares fell after a flat European session, and long bonds rose modestly. It’s unclear if the negative sentiment reflects increasing doubt, or if the recent strong gains for shares globally are setting up a “buy the rumour, sell the fact” dynamic. In that scenario, the signing of the deal could spark significant corrective falls.

The ructions with Iran and the impeachment of the US President have so far had little impact on market pricing. Crude oil is trading near the top of recent ranges, indicating a Middle East risk premium, but share markets have shrugged off these developments. So far.

Important data from China and the US drops this week. US CPI on Wednesday night might be obscured by a trade deal, or by no deal. China’s GDP and trade data is also tipped to drive markets as it speaks directly to the impact of the trade dispute so far. The window for China data is wide, and the numbers may arrive anytime in the next few days. Given an otherwise lean market calendar of either release is brought forward to today the impact could be higher.

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