World Economy

Fate of Trade Spat Weighs on Emerging Markets

Fate of Trade Spat Weighs on Emerging MarketsFate of Trade Spat Weighs on Emerging Markets
This week will be highly critical with election results in Mexico and how that will have a bearing on Nafta. The deadline for tariffs is going to be key in determining how much worse the situation will get before things can possibly get better

A trade kerfuffle that helped make the second quarter the worst in about seven years for most emerging-market carry traders is coming to a head this week, while markets welcomed a smooth election in Mexico.

The cost to hedge against fluctuations in the Mexican peso eased from the highest level since 2016 as the 64-year-old leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won the presidency, Bloomberg reported.

Attention will then turn to US jobs data and the Federal Reserve minutes on Thursday, as investors gauge whether trade friction has impacted the nation’s economic outlook. A day later is a US deadline for $34 billion in tariffs on China. The Asian country has pledged to retaliate if President Donald Trump follows through.

“Things have got to get worse before they get better—that’s the disturbing situation,” Claudio Piron, co-head of Asian currency and rates strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Singapore, told Bloomberg TV.

This week will be highly critical with election results in “Mexico and how that will have a bearing on Nafta,” Piron said. The deadline for tariffs is “going to be key” in determining how much worse the situation will get “before things can possibly get better,” he said.

The war of words between the world’s biggest economies over trade added fuel to a sell-off sparked by a rising dollar and hawkish central banks in developed economies. It sent a Bloomberg currency index that measures carry-trade returns from eight emerging markets, funded by short positions in the dollar, tumbling the most on a quarterly basis since 2011.

Emerging-market stocks and currencies dropped the most since 2015 in the three months through June, and a Bloomberg Barclays index of local-currency bonds posted its first quarterly retreat since 2016.

“The practical impact of the trade wars is small thus far and is beneficial to many emerging-market credits, for example oil and metals companies, but the bearish impact on sentiment and possibility of a downward spiral overwhelms this,” said Richard Segal, a senior analyst at Manulife Asset Management Ltd. in London.

“It’s advisable to remain cautious for a while, and better buying opportunities will appear later in the summer,” he said.

  It’s All China

The escalating trade tensions have already seen the yuan, which has been an anchor of stability during the emerging-market sell-off in recent months, weaken past 6.60 per dollar for the first time since December.

Trade frictions and concerns about whether the economy is slowing down further have sent Chinese stocks into a bear market.

A private measure for June of China’s manufacturing activity from Caixin Media and Markit Economics slightly undershot expectations at 51 versus a 51.1 median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.


Traders will also be looking at the strength of Lopez Obrador’s party in Congress.

Wells Fargo said the peso could climb back to 19 per dollar if the Morena party fails to secure a majority, or weaken to 21 if it wins control in both houses of Congress.

The currency strengthened against the dollar following the exit polls and was up 0.6% at 19.78 per dollar in Singapore on Monday.

Traders will also be on the lookout for signs Lopez Obrador will pursue measures he marketed during his campaign, such as public works programs.

  Data Driven

South Africa will release manufacturing and whole-economy PMIs on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, and the South African Reserve Bank will post data on gold and foreign-exchange reserves on Friday. The rand suffered its worst quarter in about seven years.

Traders following Brazil’s interest rates will be eyeing June’s inflation figures. While inflation is low, analysts want to know if the 11-day truckers’ strike impacted prices. Brazil’s central bank slashed its 2018 growth estimate and forecast consumer prices below target until at least 2020—fuelling bets that interest rates won’t go up any time soon.

Stock investors will also follow news on Petrobras as Brazil’s lower house is expected to vote on amendments to a bill allowing the state-controlled oil producer to sell up to 70% of a major offshore oil development.

The government plans to get the bill approved by the Senate quickly to sell surplus oil in an auction that could bring in more than $25 billion in revenue.

Poland is readying for June PMI on Monday, followed by preliminary inflation data for June. The sell-off in the zloty against the euro drove its 14-week relative strength index above 70 for the first time since January 2016.

South Korea and Malaysia will release trade numbers. Inflation data from Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan are also due. Currencies from all the nations mentioned declined against the dollar last week.

Hungary’s forint, at a record low against the euro, is in the spotlight. Central bank governor Gyorgy Matolcsy may speak before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday on the matter, though it may not prompt a shift in tone from a central bank that appears to be comfortable with its pledge to keep financing conditions loose.

Minutes released on Wednesday may also provide investors with some clarity on the rate setters’ intentions.

Romania’s central bank is scheduled to hold a rate meeting on Wednesday. Investors are assessing whether the next hike will come in July or at a later stage with inflation at the fastest clip since 2013. Any comments from Governor Mugur Isarescu on the leu will also be closely watched. The currency, which is managed by the central bank, has remained relatively stable throughout the sell-off.

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