Australian dollar hangs on as China buckles to Trump

See the latest Australian dollar analysis here:

Macro Afternoon

DXY fell overnight as EUR firmed but CNY fell:

AUD/USD was heavily bid again back to 0.70 cents though its chart is still very bearish:

It was weaker versus EMs stocks:

Gold lifted modestly:

Oil jumped:

Metals were stable:

Miners rose:

EM stocks were hammered via Shanghai:

Junk was OK:

Treasuries were bid:

Bunds too:

Stocks took another moderate hit but well off the lows:

Westpac has the wrap:

Event Wrap

Markit’s April Eurozone services PMI was revised up to 52.8 from a preliminary 52.5, adding to stabilisation signals for the region. Eurozone retail sales were unchanged in March, a better than expected showing, and the previous month was revised up 0.1ppt to 0.5%.

FOMC member Harker agreed with a cautious approach to normalization but still saw potential for one rate hike in each of 2019 and 2020.

Event Outlook

NZ: The RBNZ 2yr-ahead inflation expectations survey has been at around 2% since Q4 2017.Australia: the RBA policy meeting is ‘live’ with markets pricing in just short of a 50% chance of a cut and a slight majority of market economists (14/26) favouring a move. Westpac sees that the case for a cut has strengthened but still expect that the first move will be in August rather than May. Mar retail sales are expected to rise 0.2% (Westpac fcs +0.1%) with Q1 retail volumes up 0.3%. Mar trade balance is anticipated to post a $4.5bn surplus (Westpac $4.2bn), a touch lower than Feb’s record $4.8bn.

Euro Area: the EU Commission forecasts are released.

US: Mar JOLTS data is released. Fedspeak involves Kaplan in Beijing, and Quarles on financial regulation.

If you read the moronic Australian press then you would conclude that Trump just spat the dummy for no reason. The trigger was, in fact, Chinese back-flipping, via Bloomberg:

Donald Trump’s top trade negotiator told him that Beijing was back-tracking on a trade deal following a round of talks last week, angering the president and leading him to threaten on Sunday to raise tariffs on Chinese goods, according to people familiar with the matter.

In talks last week in Beijing, Chinese officials told their U.S. counterparts they would not agree to a trade deal that required changes to Chinese law, the people said. China had previously agreed to change its laws in the text of the deal, they said.

The change has major implications for provisions of the deal aimed at ending a Chinese practice of forcing U.S. companies seeking to do business in the country to reveal proprietary technologies and other intellectual property.

Let’s face it, that is the only reason we have a trade war in the first place so if China won’t stop it then it’s going to get worse. The Trump tactic worked, with China buckling and sending its delegation anyway, via CNBC:

One of the sources briefed on the status of talks said the Chinese would send a smaller delegation than the 100-person group originally planned. It is unclear whether Vice Premier Liu He would still helm this smaller group, an important detail if the team were traveling to Washington with an eye toward sealing a deal. Two senior administration officials described Liu as “the closer,” since he had been given authority to negotiate on President Xi Jinping’s behalf.
The team from Beijing was set to start talks with American negotiators on Wednesday as the world’s two largest economies push for a trade agreement. It is unclear whether the talks will still start Wednesday.

But after the market closed, the US confirmed tariff hikes will proceed, via Bloomie:

President Donald Trump’s top trade negotiator said the U.S. plans to raise tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday, accusing Beijing of backpedaling on commitments it made during negotiations.

A Chinese delegation will visit Washington as planned this week, with talks to take place Thursday and Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters Monday. The Trump administration plans to increase duties on Chinese imports at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, he said.

…Over the weekend, it became clear that China was pulling back on language in the text on a number of issues, which had the potential to dramatically change the deal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the briefing in Washington. The U.S. isn’t willing to re-negotiate previous commitments, said Mnuchin, adding that about 90 percent of the pact had been finalized.

We’re not out of the woods. Tech IP is the core of the issue and unless the Chinese stop stealing it then the trade will get worse not better. Trump has all the leverage, via Deutsche, with a bazooka now pulled:

With China much more vulnerable to the trigger that the reverse:

And any Chinese response hobbled by massive debt, not that that will stop them in the short term:

Surplus countries do not win trade wars. Hopefully China will acknowledge this fact and commit to a fair playing field on intellectual property before the bazooka goes off.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. This has gone well beyond trade………the bad feelings are entrenched now and will come to the surface as soon as the stock market bubbles on both sides blow up………..everyone wants their own bubble to continue for ever but bubbles don’t act that way. Longest losing steak in 20 years of manufacturing PMI’s

    • DominicMEMBER

      Sure, but a global recession definitely isn’t on the cards 😉

      Soon to be popular phrase trotted out in the press: Nobody saw it coming!

    • bcnichMEMBER

      I agree Nyleta you can’t have the exuberance we’ve had with out a serious downturn that has started
      I’d still be buying the stock markets on.a big sell off, Oz and US

    • Inventories are very high on both sides of the Atlantic. If the deal fails then the shock may well trigger a liquidation event and recession is here.

      • The Traveling Wilbur

        Indeed. Which would gut the IO price. And nuke Australia’s TOT (again). I’ve wondered whether China’s been planning on doing exactly that for months and this trade war with the US is helping them make it happen quicker.

        PS Excellent article. Thank you.

  2. Ronin8317MEMBER

    ‘Tech IP’ stealing is pure humbug in the scheme of things : China is ahead of the US on 5G, do the US is doing everything it can to stop them. Look at some of the Apple patent cases, (like the win against Samsung for design patent), and it is a rort against non-US companies.

    The bigger issue is the trade imbalance : it is not sustainable in its current form, and it may lead to the third ‘Opium War’ .

    • Rubbish. The imbalance can be wiped out in a few years with energy alone. This is about the future of tech and the role it plays is getting China beyond the middle income trap.

    • …China is ahead of the US on 5G, so the US is doing everything it can to stop them…

      Well, that alone relates to MIT and attempts to stumble China in transition through it.

  3. …commit to a fair playing field on intellectual property…

    LOL, a unicorn of modern day.
    the IP theft exists only from within US interests and never the other way round. It never was level, ever.
    On a second thought, neither it is level within US alone.