February 18, 2019

Global Commentary

Asian markets ended mostly lower Friday, tracking losses on Wall Street as investors saw some cracks in the U.S. economic growth story following the weakest monthly retail sales data in nine years from the U.S. Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite fell 1.37% and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng was 1.87% lower at the close as investors saw no progress in trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. South Korea’s Kospi also tumbled 1.34% as semiconductor companies fell sharply. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 managed to keep in positive territory, finishing with a 0.11% gain.

European markets climbed higher to post their best weekly gain in three-and-a-half months as investors got good news from the White House regarding the trade talks with China. Positive comments from an ECB official and good corporate earnings helped cement the gains. The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 gained 1.41% for a weekly gain of 3%. The CAC 40 in France was the best performer, adding 1.79% and closing at its highest level in four months. In Germany the DAX rose 1.89% for a weekly gain of 3.6% and its best weekly gain in eleven months. London’s FTSE was 0.55% higher and posted its third consecutive weekly gain, up 2.3%. In the U.S. markets gained strongly, with the Nasdaq coming out of bear market territory and the Dow posting an eighth consecutive winning week. The Nasdaq finished the day 0.63% to climb out of the bear territory. The Dow Industrials led gains, advancing 1.74%, while the S&P 500 gained 1.09%.



Cryptocurrencies were modestly higher on Friday, with Bitcoin snapping a three session losing streak as it rose 0.06%. Binance Coin was the biggest winner in the top ten as it rose 5.9%, while Stellar posted the second best gain of 3.6%. Number three coin Ripple led losses as it fell 1.3%, while the rest of the top ten altcoins were up less than 2%. Overall 64 of the top 100 altcoins finished the day in positive territory.



EUR/USD – Volatility in the pair increased on Friday as it first dropped to 1.1234, its lowest level since November 12, but later recovered and returned to opening levels just below the 1.1300 level. Since it was unable to remain above the 1.1300 level, it traded briefly as high as 1.1306, it appears that level will become resistance, keeping gains capped for the pair.

GBP/USD – This pair rose steadily all day, posting a gain of 0.7% in direct contrast to the consistent move lower seen in the pair since January 27. The catalyst for the move was the strong January U.K. retail sales data, which gave the Pound a boost, while the U.S. is still reeling from its own weak retail sales data on Thursday and the weak industrial production data released on Friday.



Metals – Precious metals gained on Friday on optimism over positive developments in U.S.-China trade talks overshadowing a stronger U.S. dollar. April gold gained $8.20, or 0.6%, to settle at $1,322.10 an ounce. Friday’s gains erased a loss for the week, sending gold higher 0.3% for the week. March silver meanwhile, added $0.215, or 1.4%, to finish at $15.743 an ounce, with gold’s sister metal still down 0.4% for the week.

Oil – Crude gained on Friday as trader sentiment improved following news from Washington that trade talks with China made “important progress”. Signs of falling production from OPEC have also been bolstering the market this week. U.S. benchmark March West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose $1.18, or 2.2%, to settle at $55.59 a barrel. Meanwhile April Brent added $1.68, or 2.6%, to $66.25 a barrel.



FTSE 100 – London’s benchmark equity index market its third consecutive weekly gain as it added 0.55% Friday and 2.3% for the week. Gains came despite the Pound firming significantly against the U.S. dollar as investors were upbeat following a rebound in retail sales data for January. Optimism over U.S.-China trade talks also helped lift the index.

Kospi – South Korea’s benchmark equity index has run into resistance at the 2,200 level recently, and Friday saw that resistance push the index lower by 1.34% as semiconductor shares led the way lower. Heavy weight Samsung was down 3.05%, while rival SK Hynix saw its shares fall 4.65%. The Kospi remains up by 7.6% since the start of 2019, but is still well off its 2018 highs above the 2,500 level.


Nvidia – Shares of the chipmaker surged more than 8% in overnight electronic trading and then added another 1.82% on Friday after the company reported better than expected profits thanks to its server sales. Nvidia also said revenues would remain flat to slightly lower this year, which was better than Wall Street was expecting. This is a turnaround as Nvidia shares have fallen 22% over the past three months after the last earnings report highlighted issues in the video card business of Nvidia. Shares of Nvidia have now gained more than 20% this year, although they are still 35% lower over the past 52 weeks.

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