Just a handful of days ago, the US-China trade situation looked to be improving. Trump and Xi reportedly had a breakthrough meeting and China even went as far as to deliberately make a positive public statement in an effort to prop up US markets. However, things have worsened rapidly. First, the US arrested the CFO of Chinese giant Huawei, which angered Beijing, and now the US is close to issuing a travel warning after China detained a Canadian diplomat. The detention is part of an effort to compel Canada not to extradite the Huawei CFO to the US.
FINSUM: We went from public display of détente to a very tense diplomatic situation. The outlook for the trade war, which will be a reflection of all the other issues, looks bleak at the moment.
Markets plunged on Tuesday, at least partly because of fears over the fragility of the US-China truce on trade. China tried to bolster belief in a deal this week by publicly reaffirming its commitment. However, any hopes of a trade agreement took a definitive nose dive today as the CFO of Chinese giant Huawei was arrested in Canada at the US’ request. Futures markets dove so sharply on the news that the CME had to stop trading for a period.
FINSUM: This could be a very wild day. Market are off to a rough start this morning, but the mood in the afternoon will be the big test of sentiment, in our opinion.
Oil has been whipsawing all over the place lately. For the last several weeks, oil has mostly fallen, with some short term big rallies along the way. One of those was just a couple days ago when Saudi Arabia and Russia announced an agreement to cut output. However, the bottom has fallen out of the commodity as Saudi Arabia’s energy minister announced that he would only favor a small cut. This led to big doubts about whether the efforts will actually lower supply, sending prices spiraling down 5%.
FINSUM: This seems to be a direct consequence of the US’ ability to boost its production to offset any declines by OPEC. Accordingly, Saudi Arabia doesn’t want to lower its revenue by cutting only for the US to take advantage.
If you haven’t been paying attention, something very interesting has been happening in the oil market. That development is that the US has quietly replaced Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer. That is a major development because the US is outside of OPEC and thus is a major counter-balance (headache) to Saudi Arabia and OPEC’s ability to control oil prices. Each time Riyadh wants to cut output to boost prices, the US can raise its production to offset the cut.
FINSUM: The US is in a strategically superior position for the first time in a very long time. This whole dynamic is symptomatic of the new era of bountiful oil. We ultimately believe that prices will stay well below $100 for several years to come because of how supplied the market is.
One of the scary facts of yesterday’s selloff was that there wasn’t a single identifiable catalyst for it. That said, one of those that had a certain effect was growing doubt about the strength of the Trump-Xi trade truce. Well that concern got a bit of support today as China publicly reaffirmed its commitment to the trade détente. Beijing said it was working toward a trade agreement with the US by March 1st, a sign that it intends to follow through on the promises made by Trump and Xi over the weekend.
FINSUM: We think it is a good sign China made this kind of statement. It seems an obvious reaction to the big stock market drop yesterday, but the fact that they care to help out is a good indication of where things are heading.