August has been quiet, as usual, but there have been a few notable changes in direction that warrant a mention.

September will provide a better test when volumes start to build again. Doubtless, the run into the US Presidential Election, which promises to be a bruising affair, will also bring its own tests for markets.

A feature of the summer has been the weakness in the US dollar, it has fallen more than 5% against the euro since June, this move might be running out of steam now. The US Dollar Index continued to fall until mid-month but now looks steadier. Sterling has rallied strongly from March lows v. the dollar around 1.155, recently touching 1.32. With the Brexit negotiations looming (and progress sounding to be non-existent), this move looks questionable now.

Equity markets continue to be led by the S&P 500, up another 4% since the beginning of the month, and making new highs again. In turn, this was led by the NASDAQ (up around 7%) and specifically the leading tech stocks, Amazon and Apple being the real feature performers this month after their figures. Japanese stocks have improved as have Chinese, but the UK and Europe have drifted down with concerns over a COVID-19 resurgence in France, Germany and Spain.

Unusually, we can report that interest rates have risen over the past few weeks. This is the key trend to watch to see if it is an August aberration, or something more permanent. The US ten-year is current up around 4 basis points to 64 basis points, but had reached 72 basis points at one point and the thirty year (the long bond) has risen to 136 basis points from 119 basis points after touching 145 basis points - meaning that the US yield curve has steepened. As yet, these moves are all quite marginal, but this is definitely something to watch.

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