Investors on the sidelines ahead of Jackson Hole summit
FXTM’s Chief Market Strategist, Hussein Sayed, comments on the US equity markets and potential outcomes from the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium.
US equity markets kicked off the week on a positive note, ending a two-day fall which sent the S&P 500 to its lowest levels since 11 July–total declines of 2.6 per cent from the 2,490.9 peak were recorded on 8 August. The low trading volumes on Wall Street indicate that investors are still uncertain as to where to head next, and many have been hedging their portfolios by adding gold. According to the latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, net-long positions rose to their highest levels since October 2016, and gold ETFs have seen some decent inflows so far this month. However, the precious metal continues to be challenged by the $1,300 resistance level, where it has failed on two occasions this year to break through. If gold gathers momentum and manages to close the week above $1,300, I believe we will see another leg higher, with a potential to test 2016 highs around $1,375.
It seems the political turmoil in Washington will keep investors on edge for now. The clashes with North Korea, divisions within the Congress, debt ceiling negotiations and the ability to implement long-awaited tax and stimulus measures, will all play a significant role in where markets go next. However, it’s evident that investors will remain on the defensive for some time.
This week’s key event continues to be the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium. Euro traders managed to push the single currency above 1.18 yesterday, on expectations that the ECB’s President might announce a shift in policy. On this date five years ago, Mario Draghi delivered his famous “whatever it takes” speech. During the following ECB meeting, a new plan for buying bonds from Euro zone countries was announced, and since then, the monetary policy has been slackening. This time, investors are expecting Draghi to take the opposite direction and announce the beginning of policy normalisation. While the Euro has already priced in much of the policy shift, an official announcement will provide further support. However, I expect Mario Draghi to choose his words very carefully, and he probably will not provide a clear roadmap on what’s coming next. Even when the ECB starts normalising policy, it will be very slow and not a significant shift. This is why I expect a slight pullback in the Euro from current levels, but given the recent strength in Euro zone data, I would still prefer to buy the dips than sell the rallies.