This Morning’s Log Entry

U.S. equity futures and
Asian stocks rallied notably last night on news that the U.S. and China are drafting
a multi-point plan to end the trade war. That rally, however, completely
reversed on followup news suggesting there remains a marked lack of detail.
News that China is banning Australian coal imports seemed to shake global
markets a bit as well.

The latter definitely
throws a tiny wrench into my near-term global thesis. I had the Aussie
rallying on a trade deal and what looks to be aggressive China stimulus going
forward. Clearly, this is China retaliating against Australia’s recently
announced Huawei ban. The action on China’s part further illustrates its
willingness to leverage trade as a retaliatory tool; has to touch a nerve for traders who are aggressively betting on a US/China trade deal.
U.S. equities took another leg lower
this morning on a surprise decline in capital goods orders for December, which
speaks to trade war pressures on business investment. Also concerning was this
morning’s Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey, which came in at a shocking -4.1,
against expectations of +14.0, and a prior month reading of +17.0. Bucking this
morning’s negative data trend is the 
Flash Composite PMI for
February, scoring 55.8 against expectations of 54.4 and a prior month reading
of 54.5. However, in the details there was reporting of a “soft spot” in client
demand due to global slowing.
Bottom line: While the
U.S. remains in decent shape, global trade uncertainty is definitely beginning
to take its toll. A pause here in the rally sets an even firmer stage for a spike higher
on a trade deal. The weaker data – as long as odds remain tilted in favor of continued expansion – is net bullish for equities as it signals to traders that the Fed will stay out
of the way for the time being.


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