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How to Trade the Impact of Politics on Global Financial Markets

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HOW TO TRADE GEOPOLITICAL RISKS – TALKING POINTS

  • The global economy is showing increasing weakness and fragility
  • Eroding economic fortitude exposes markets to geopolitical risks
  • Examples of political threats in Asia, Latin America and Europe

See our free guide to learn how to use economic news in your trading strategy!

ANALYZING GEOPOLITICAL RISKS

As 2019 continues to unfold, political risks are growing increasingly relevant to watch as their capacity for inducing market-wide volatility is significantly expanding. Globally, liberal-oriented ideologies – that is, those favoring free trade and integrated capital markets – are being undermined by nationalist and populist movements. The result – though not always – is violent volatility stemming from uncertainty.

Against the backdrop of a slowing global economy and central banks pausing or reversing their rate-hike cycles, the introduction of additional uncertainty will likely create even more volatility. What makes political risk so dangerous and elusive is the limited ability investors have for pricing it in. Traders may therefore find themselves hot under the collar as the global political landscape continues to unpredictably shift.

Generally speaking, markets do not really care about political categorizations but are more concerned with the economic policies embedded in the agenda of whoever holds the reigns of the sovereign. Policies that stimulate economic growth typically acts as a magnet for investors looking to park capital where it will garner the highest yield.

These include the implementation of fiscal stimulus plans, fortifying property rights, allowing for goods and capital to flow freely and dissolving growth-sapping regulations. If these policies create adequate inflationary pressure, it could prompt the central bank to raise interest rates as a response and lead to a stronger exchange rate for the country concerned.

Conversely, if you have a government whose underlying ideological predilections go against the gradient of globalization, this may cause capital flight. Regimes that seek to rip out the threads that have sown economic and political integration usually create a moat of uncertainty that investors do not want to traverse. Themes of ultra-nationalism, protectionism and populism have frequently shown to have market-disrupting effects.

If a state undergoes an ideological realignment,traders will assess the situation to see if it radically alters their risk-reward set up. If so, investors may then reallocate their capital and re-formulate their trading strategies that tilt the balance of risk to reward in their favor. However, in doing so, volatility will likely follow as the reformulated trading strategy is reflected in the market-wide redistribution of capital across various assets.

EUROPE: EUROSCEPTIC POPULISM IN ITALY

In Italy, the 2018 election roiled regional markets and eventually rippled almost throughout the entire financial system. The ascendancy of the anti-establishment right-wing Lega Nord and ideologically-ambivalent 5 Star Movement was founded on a campaign of populism with a built-in rejection of the status quo. The uncertainty accompanying this new regime was then promptly priced in and resulted in significantly volatility.

The risk premium for holding Italy’s assets rose and was reflected in an over one-hundred percent spike in Italian 10-year bond yields due to investors demanding a higher return for tolerating what they perceived to be a higher level of risk. This was also reflected in the dramatic widening of the spread on credit default swaps on Italian sovereign debt due to increased fears that Italy could be the next epicenter of another EU debt crisis.

EURUSD, EURCHF Plummeted as Mediterranean Sovereign Bond Yields Spiked Amid Fears of Another Eurozone Debt Crisis

Chart Showing EURUSD, EURCHF

The US Dollar, Japanese Yen and Swiss Franc all gained at the expense of the Euro as investors re-directed their capital to anti-risk assets. The Euro’s suffering is being prolonged by the dispute between Rome and Brussels over the former’s budgetary ambitions. The government’s fiscal exceptionalism is a feature of their anti-establishment nature that in turn introduced greater uncertainty and was then reflected in a weaker Euro.

LATIN AMERICA: NATIONALIST-POPULISM IN BRAZIL

While President Jair Bolsonaro is generally characterized as a fire-brand nationalist with populist underpinnings, the market reaction to his ascendency was met with open arms by investors. His appointment of Paulo Guedes – a University of Chicago-trained economist with a penchant for privatization and regulatory restructuring – boosted sentiment and investor’s confidence on Brazilian assets.

Ibovespa – Daily Chart

Chart Showing Ibovespa

Since June 2018, the benchmark Ibovespa equity index has risen over 46 percent compared with only a little over 9 percent in the S&P 500 over the same time period. During the election in October, the Ibovespa rose over 12 percent in one month as polls revealed that Bolsonaro was going to triumph over his left-wing counterpart Fernando Haddad.

Ibovespa Spiked Almost Five Percent After October 7 Vote and Polls Showed Bolsonaro in the Lead

Chart Showing Brazilian Stocks

Since Bolsonaro’s ascension to the Presidency, the oscillations in equity markets and rate of capital inflow frequently move in tandem with the level of progress on his market-disrupting pension reforms. Investors are anticipating these structural adjustment will be strong enough to pull Brazil’s economy away from the precipice of a recession and toward a strong growth trajectory, unburdened by unsustainable public spending.

ASIA: HINDU NATIONALISM IN INDIA

The re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was broadly welcome by markets, though lingering concerns were raised about the effect of Hindu nationalism on regional stability. However, Modi also has a reputation of being a business-friendly politician. His election lured investors into diverting a significant amount of capital into Indian assets following his ascendancy to the presidency.

However, the optimistic outlook from investors could be undermined if risk appetite sours amid rising tensions in the region. In the first breathes of 2019, India-Pakistan relations drastically escalated amid a skirmish over the disputed Kashmir region. Ever since the 1947 partition, the hostility between the two nuclear powers has always remained a regional risk.

India Nifty 50 Benchmark Equity Index, S&P 500 Futures and AUDJPY Fall Amid Political Volatility

Chart Showing AUDJPY, Nikkei 225, S&P 500

Nationalist campaigns and governments are embedded with political risk because the very nature of such a regime relies on displaying strength and frequently equates compromise with capitulation. In times of political volatility and economic fragility, the financial impact of a diplomatic breakdown is amplified by the fact that a resolution to a dispute will likely be prolonged due to the inherently stubborn nature of nationalist regimes.

US President Donald Trump and Modi employ a similar brand of strong rhetoric both on the campaign trail and within their respective administrations. In a rather ironic way, their ideological similarity may in fact be a force that causes a rift in diplomatic relations. Tensions between the two have escalated recently with markets worrying that Washington may start another trade war in Asia – only this time it will be with India.

WHY POLITICAL RISKS MATTER FOR TRADING

Countless studies have shown that a significant decline in living standards from war or a severe recession increases the propensity for voters to occupy radical positions on the political spectrum. As such, people are more likely to deviate from market-friendly policies – such as capital integration and trade liberalization – and instead focus on measures that turn away from globalization and are deleteriously inward-facing.

The modern globalized economy is interconnected both politically and economically and therefore any systemic shock has a high probability of echoing out into the world. During times of significant political volatility amid inter-continental ideological changes, it is crucial to monitor these developments because within them are opportunities to set up short, medium and long-term trading strategies.

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— Written by Dimitri Zabelin, Jr Currency Analyst for DailyFX.com

To contact Dimitri, use the comments section below or @ZabelinDimitrion Twitter



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USD/CAD Continues to Eye March Price Gap Ahead of Canada Employment

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Canadian Dollar Talking Points

USD/CAD holds near the monthly low (1.3468) as the Bank of Canada (BoC) keeps the benchmark interest rate at the “effective lower bound of ¼ percent” in June, but the update to Canada’s Employment report may influence the exchange rate as the economy is expected to shed 500K jobs in May.

USD/CAD Continues to Eye March Price Gap Ahead of Canada Employment

USD/CAD extends the series of lower highs and lows from the start of the month as the BoC announces that the “Bank is reducing the frequency of its term repo operations to once per week, and its program to purchase bankers’ acceptances to bi-weekly operations.”

Image of BoC interest rate

The decision suggests the BoC led by Tiff Macklem will scale back the dovish forward guidance as the central bank emphasizes that “any further policy actions would be calibrated to provide the necessary degree of monetary policy accommodation required to achieve the inflation target.

Image of DailyFX economic calendar for Canada

It remains to be seen if the update to Canada’s Employment report will influence the monetary policy outlook as the economy is expected to shed 500K jobs in May, while the jobless rate is projected to hit 15%, which would mark the highest reading since the data series began in 1976.

The ongoing deterioration in the labor market may put pressure on the BoC to further support the economy as “the level of real GDP in the second quarter will likely show a further decline of 10-20 percent,” but Governor Macklem and Co. may carry out a wait-and-see approach over the coming months as “the Bank expects the economy to resume growth in the third quarter.

In turn, the BoC may continue to rule out a negative interest rate policy as “the Bank’s programs to improve market function are having their intended effect,” and the central bank may alter the forward guidance at the next meeting on July 15 as the “decisive and targeted fiscal actions, combined with lower interest rates, are buffering the impact of the shutdown.”

With that said, the Canadian Dollar may continue to outperform its US counterpart as the Federal Reserveprepares to have the Municipal Liquidity Facility along with the Main Street Lending Program up and running in June, and the pullback from the yearly high (1.4667) may continue to evolve as USD/CAD snaps the range bound price action from April.

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) highlights a similar dynamic as the indicator tracks the downward trend from May, but the bearish momentum may abate over the coming days as the oscillator struggles to push into oversold territory.

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USD/CAD Rate Daily Chart

Image of USD/CAD rate daily chart

Source: Trading View

  • Keep in mind, the near-term rally in USD/CAD emerged following the failed attempt to break/close belowthe Fibonacci overlap around 1.2950 (78.6% expansion) to 1.2980 (61.8% retracement), with the yearly opening range highlighting a similar dynamic as the exchange rate failed to test the 2019 low (1.2952) during the first full week of January.
  • The shift in USD/CAD behavior may persist in 2020 as the exchange rate breaks out of the range bound price action from the fourth quarter of 2019 and clears the October high (1.3383).
  • However, recent price action suggests the pullback from the yearly high (1.4667) will continue to evolve as USD/CAD takes out the April low (1.3850),and the exchange rate may continue to exhibit a bearish behavior in June as the Relative Strength Index (RSI) extends the downward trend from the previous month.
  • Will keep a close eye on the RSI as it flirts with oversold territory, but the bearish momentum may abate over the coming days if the oscillator fails to hold below 30.
  • Need a break/close below the Fibonacci overlap around 1.3440 (23.6% expansion) to 1.3460 (61.8% retracement) to fill the price gap from March, with the next area of interest coming in around 1.3290 (61.8% expansion) to 1.3320 (78.6% retracement).

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— Written by David Song, Currency Strategist

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What is Fueling the Rally?

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Dow Jones, Nasdaq 100, S&P 500 Price Outlook:

  • The S&P 500 reclaimed the psychologically significant 3,000 mark last week
  • Meanwhile, the Nasdaq 100 continues to edge closer to the all-time highs it saw in February
  • The Dow Jones remains a laggard but has posted gains of its own in recent weeks

Dow Jones, Nasdaq 100, S&P 500 Forecasts: What is Fueling the Rally?

The Dow Jones, Nasdaq and S&P 500 have continued to melt higher in recent days even as bullish catalysts seem to sputter out. Following the initial crash in February and early March, gains were quickly established in what many believed to be a “bear market rally” as governments and central banks offered aid in many shapes and sizes.

Nasdaq 100 Price Chart: 4 – Hour Time Frame (February – June)

Nasdaq 100 price chart

In the weeks that followed, market pundits attributed the continuation rally to slowing coronavirus cases and the efficacy of quarantine procedures. Now the three equity indices are approaching prior levels, but more than 40 million Americans are unemployed, bankruptcies have been declared, supply chains have been disrupted and other fundamental concerns have been ignited. Still, the Dow Jones, Nasdaq and S&P climb. So what exactly is fueling this recovery rally?

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Well, to be sure, not every market move has to have a single and easily identifiable catalyst. Similarly, markets can stay irrational for extended periods of time, so gains can be built even when the underlying fundamental landscape may suggest otherwise. This phenomenon could be seen, at least to some degree, in late January and early February when it was becoming more apparent the coronavirus would become a global ordeal.

S&P 500, Crude Oil and Copper Daily Price Chart (August 2019 – January 2020)

Dow Jones, Nasdaq 100, S&P 500 Forecasts: What is Fueling the Rally?

Chart created with TradingView. Taken from Twitter.

While other equity markets, risk-sensitive currencies and commodities like crude oil plummeted, the three US indices trudged higher still. At the time, I noted the relationship between crude oil and the S&P 500, highlighting the infrequency of such a divergence.

At present, the catalysts for a continuation rally beyond all-time highs seem few and far between. Further still, domestic unrest will likely dent coronavirus recovery efforts and US-China tensions have soared. When taken together, it seems unlikely the Dow Jones, Nasdaq and S&P 500 will reach new heights, but other risk sensitive assets like the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand Dollars have rallied, exhibiting widespread risk appetite.

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Thus, it can be argued US equity prices have become detached from their underlying fundamentals, but shorter-term trading involves price, not necessarily economic principles, and weeks of gains would suggest the current trend is higher still, however unfounded it may seem.

While I am of the opinion that some of these gains will have to be forfeited eventually, attempting to call the top at each leg higher is presumptuous. With that in mind, it may be prudent to wait on the sidelines until a catalyst can spark selling that is met with conviction if you possess a bearish bias, because it seems that none of the current threats have sparked such a move yet. In the meantime, follow @PeterHanksFX on Twitter for updates and keep close tabs on the price action in the days to come.

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–Written by Peter Hanks, Analyst for DailyFX.com

Contact and follow Peter on Twitter @PeterHanksFX



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Index Surges Through Price Gap, Can it Continue?

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FTSE 100 Price Outlook:

FTSE 100 Forecast: Index Surges Through Price Gap, Can it Continue?

The FTSE 100 surged to its highest level since early June on Wednesday after the equity index pierced a longstanding technical barrier around 6,200. The zone marked confluent Fibonacci levels and had worked to stall bullish attempts higher in the past, notably coinciding with the swing-high in late April. All in all, the ascending channel with which the FTSE 100 trades remains intact and passing through resistance allowed for bulls to capitalize on open air above.

FTSE 100 Price Chart: 4 – Hour Time Frame (March – June)

FTSE 100 price chart

With a price gap ranging from roughly 6,200 to 6,400, the bullish break above resistance at 6,200 opened the door to a quick continuation – due to the nature of price gaps – and the FTSE must now negotiate secondary resistance around 6,400. 6,400 aligns not only with the top of the gap, but also another Fibonacci level. With that said, the spot is likely to influence price, at least to some degree, in the days ahead.

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If sentiment shifts and risk appetite diminishes, the FTSE 100 may retreat from resistance at 6,400 and fall back into the 6,400 to 6,200 range. Since the gap was filled, price movement should be met with more resistance – regardless of direction. Either way, the FTSE 100 should now enjoy support from prior resistance at 6,200, and due to the level’s influence in the past, it may prove to be a vital staging ground for bullish attempts down the road.

FTSE 100
BEARISH

Data provided by



of clients are net long.



of clients are net short.

Change in Longs Shorts OI
Daily 7% -1% 3%
Weekly 14% -5% 3%

With the ascending channel intact and a series of higher-highs and higher-lows, FTSE 100 price action suggests further strength may be on the horizon. Coupled with IG Client Sentiment Data which reveals retail clients are net-short, it seems as though the shorter-term trend is leaning toward a continuation higher.

That being said, I have my reservations about current stock market activity and suspect the risk-reward relationship for many indices is currently skewed to the downside – a topic discussed at length in my webinar. Nevertheless, price is unemotional and unfeeling and recent price action is hardly a harbinger of bearish reversals so price may continue higher in the shorter-term regardless of the underlying fundamentals. In the meantime, follow @PeterHanksFX on Twitter for updates.

–Written by Peter Hanks, Analyst for DailyFX.com

Contact and follow Peter on Twitter @PeterHanksFX



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