European markets are a little mixed this morning, while US futures are slightly in the green with investors on that side of the pond buoyed by the prospect of a stimulus deal.
I still remain skeptical though, as the Democrats have little reason to cede too much ground and the Republicans seem extremely reluctant. Democrats are unlikely to be blamed in the event that stimulus isn't forthcoming, especially after Trump cancelled talks earlier this week, and they have a growing lead in the polls. They may find it easier to resume after the election, even if that comes at a cost now.
Of course, this may all be the usual brinkmanship but the fact that this is still happening in October, so close to election day and as large companies prepare to lay off thousands of workers gives me the impression there's more to it. For that reason, investors may be a little overoptimistic and could pay the price short-term.
That said, it's interesting to see this optimism against the backdrop of Biden's lead widening in the polls. Perhaps we're focusing too much on stimulus prospects and not enough on the desire of investors not to see long, drawn-out and hostile legal challenges after the election. Should Biden's lead continue to grow, it may be a rally of relief, rather than a celebration of the result, itself.
No v-shaped recovery in the UK, stimulus incoming
The v-shaped recovery in the UK that always looked more Nike swoosh than v and may now resemble more of a w as the second wave hits, has suffered another setback, with GDP data for August being less promising than hoped despite the success of the government's eat out to help out scheme. Despite the economy growing for the last four months, it remains 9.2% smaller than its pre-Covid self, leaving an awful lot of lost ground to make up.
As mentioned, eat out to help out did exactly what is said on the tin, with food services and accommodation enjoying a 69.7% bump in August. There wasn't much of a response in the pound to the data, despite the undershoot.
I guess the two main takeaways here are that the BoE will need to ease further this year, with growth falling well short of what they expected and more restrictions coming, and the government is going to need to do more as well, with the Chancellor reportedly preparing targeted furlough measures for businesses forced to shut in the North of England, something that may be necessary in other parts of the country in the coming months.
Oil up 10% this week as Hurricane Delta rises to category three
Oil prices are seeing a little profit taking heading into the weekend following a 10% rally this week in response to a number of short-term bullish factors lifting the market. Hurricane Delta has been upgraded to category three and forced the closure of most oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, amounting to around 1.67 million barrels per day.
North sea outages as workers strike over pay has resulted in another 330,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of additional shutins and that could rise to 966,000 by the middle of next week if a resolution isn't found. That's a lot of lost production, it's hardly surprising we've seen the spike we have. It also means there's a long way to fall if the Hurricane causes minimal damage and the strike is resolved.
Gold buoyed by prospects of more stimulus
Trump's confidence in a stimulus package being agreed is rubbing off on the markets and risk assets are reaping the benefits. And right now, gold falls into that bracket, having aligned itself with positive risk apetite this year rather than its traditional safe haven role. There is an added element here as well, with gold also typically viewed as an inflation hedge so a massive stimulus package could be doubly positive for the yellow metal.
Despite the market getting excited about the prospect of stimulus, I'm not there yet and think this gold rally may be a little premature, leaving it vulnerable to a further corrective move to the downside. This will only be short-term - the decline since August is, itself, corrective - but I don't view this month as strongly risk on unless something changes. Still, a move above $1,920 may reinforce the counter view, at which point the $1,960-2,000 region becomes very interesting indeed. There's a cluster of resistance here which, if overcome, could be very bullish indeed.
Related: Are Markets Welcoming Biden?