Ups And Downs of US – China Trading Dispute

Weekly Report - 14/05/2018

US Repudiation of the JCPOA

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The US administration repudiated the JCPOA with Iran. That agreement was designed to forestall Iran’s Nuclear weapons development program. The immediate after effects of the US move caused oil prices to rise. This, on the mere statement that the US would reimpose sanctions on the Islamic theocracy.

The Week that Was


The US administration repudiated the JCPOA with Iran. That agreement was designed to forestall Iran’s Nuclear weapons development program. The immediate after effects of the US move caused oil prices to rise. This, on the mere statement that the US would reimpose sanctions on the Islamic theocracy. However sanctions and their specific applications are far from clear. As with the near entirety of the US president’s declarations they are long on rhetoric and frugal with fact. Any sanctions that the US may reimpose will not come into force until November. Too, there are other options available to the US administration to sanction and attempt to influence the Islamic Republic to become more compliant with demands the US sees as proper and fitting to the spirit of the JCPOA. These demands focus principally on the Iran’s development of delivery systems for the nuclear devices, i.e. missiles and its ferment of regional conflict as the war backing the Yemeni Houtis that are irritating the Saudi regime from Yemen and the obsequious vassal Hezbollah proxy supported to irritate the Israelis from their home base in Lebanon. All remain to be seen with respect to how and if they will be imposed. The correction in oil is therefore temporary. We expect oil to rise continually if not steeply for the near to medium term.

The US administration also seems to be willing to ameliorate if not wave entirely sanctions on the Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE for violating sanctions against trading with Iran that were in force prior to the adoption of the JCPOA. In what is now a familiar tactic of the US administration, a reversal of the letter and spirit of its stated intentions now holds for ZTE and the damage done to its ability to operate.

A date was set for talks between President Trump and the North Korean leader Mr. Kim for June 12 in Singapore. There will be a great deal of hype, smoke and mirror work surrounding the talks but nothing of substance will come of them because nothing ever does. This is a well-worn routine for the North Koreans and the west falls for it at each performance. It could be different this time, but the odds are against that.

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Week Ahead


The economic calendar is light this week with only German, British and US data of import. US retail, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve district’s manufacturing index (which is known to be a favorite indicator of the FOMC in their interest rate deliberations), US building permits and of course the Crude oil inventory report. Germany reports its GDP figures and its zeitgeist sentiment and the British tell us their unemployment numbers. Nothing too weighty. The real news is the thaw, or the perceived thaw in the trade dispute. The next round takes place this week in D.C.  In the shadow of last week’s no progress outcome for those held in Beijing. Still the world’s stock markets are buoyant and the buying continues. No raging bull but no sinking ship either. It is the slope, (up or down) not the degree of acceleration (steepness of the slope) which matters to us as traders. We are also going to be looking carefully for signs of the fallout of the Iran repudiation. We saw the first round in the missile duel between the Revolutionary Guard Corp. and the I.D.F. So far all quiet on that front. Signs of results from the withdrawal will include willingness to signal flexibility about returning to a new negotiated exit from sanctions that will include addressing the US demands, or the contrary: stated intent to maintain the current regime, despite US sanction or, defiance of the treaty altogether and a damn the torpedoes attitude to tear the whole thing up.

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