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CASE STUDIES and insights

It’s a rather odd world scene right now. Geopolitical factors abound across the globe, with markets again focussing on European politics again overnight, but despite all this and the uncertain shape of US growth, tax and trade policies, the global economy has started the year in rude economic health with evident momentum.

Strong European data failed to excite markets – the exception being equities – as the upcoming French Presidential elections take centre stage. Betting markets now ascribe Eurosceptic Le Pen a 34.2% chance of winning, while a poll by Elable for L’Express magazine overnight puts her within striking distance in a run-off with Fillion with 44% of the vote – inspiration for today’s title “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi.

With the US out celebrating president’s day, Europe was always going to be the focus in the overnight session. My dad used to listen to Santana, so the first song that came to mind was “Europa”, a mellow song with no lyrics, but notable for Santana’s guitar solo.

One feature of Australia’s recent employment growth has been the subdued pace of full-time job creation at a time when part-time employment has grown strongly

Just over a week ago, President Trump promised a ‘phenomenal’ tax announcement in 2-3 weeks, so as the clock ticks down to some form of announcement, market inertia is set to reign.

Don’t be alarmed. It’s not that markets have spat the dummy, but rather US equity markets are down, having opened high, with bond yields also lower. In the currency space the USD has been softer, Euro, Sterling and the CHF stronger. The Aussie has been steady-to-lower, though hugging 0.77, supported by the soggy big buck.

My colleague Rodrigo Catril warned yesterday of the possibility of a US Fed March rate hike – what he termed the Ides of March. That argument gained further currency overnight with the US CPI and core‑Retail Sales printing double the market consensus.

Reaction to Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual testimony before the senate triggered a sell-off in US Treasury yields and a broad USD rally as she left the door open for a rate hike as soon as the next FOMC meeting in March.

The message in American band Daughtry’s 2011 song later covered (with aplomb) by the Arctic Monkeys is, according to the writer, “Your significant other is in the right and just like she said it would happen, you come crawling back”

The Australian budget in the first six months of this financial year is tracking a little higher, but not significantly worse than recent budget forecasts

Last week the USD regained its mojo largely thanks to President Trump’s hint of a phenomenal tax policy announcement and on Friday the USD waivered, particularly against JPY when at a joint press conference with Japan’s PM Abe, President Trump responded to a question about currency devaluation saying that “we will all eventually…be at a level playing field.” and then added “That’s the only way you can fairly compete in trade”.

The US economy continues along the same moderate growth path it has experienced in its recovery from the Global Financial Crisis.

The Trump-trade was reignited overnight on the back of the President flagging an impending “phenomenal” tax announcement.

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