Start The Trade War Without Me…

The September Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index came in at 59.8, lower than August’s 61.3 and below the 59.9 forecast.

But that’s still a strong number. Along with positive developments on a trade war front, it was enough to send stocks and Treasury yields jumping at Monday’s open.

The ISM index – a forward-looking survey of more than 300 purchasing managers on orders, inventories, employment, and production – is a good look at the overall health of U.S. manufacturing.

The September reading – and the silence of the world’s most important central bank – suggest President Trump’s trade war is not yet impacting the economy.

As I noted last week, the Federal Reserve did raise its overnight interest rate, as promised. The target range for the federal funds rate is now 2% to 2.25%, up a quarter-point.

It’s hard to read silence, as Fed Chair Jerome Powell wouldn’t answer reporters’ questions about the possible effects of a trade war during his post-Federal Open Market Committee meeting press conference last week.

So, there’s no official word on when new tariffs might show up in economic data, such as inflation. Perhaps the official view is that it won’t be an issue for long.

Indeed, who knew that, over the weekend, Canada would finally agree to President Trump’s new North American free trade terms?

My sense following Powell’s press conference is that the chair is only as confident as he has to be in current Fed policy. And that means he’ll react to changes in incoming data.

Of course, that could be a problem. At the same time, that could create opportunity… a lot of it.

That’s why we’ll be watching Friday’s release of the September jobs report. Forecasters see a slight dip in non-farm payrolls as well as a smaller increase in hourly wages.

But what if it’s far worse than the market expects? That kind of “uncertainty” is good because it often creates overreactions and mispricing in the U.S. Treasury market.

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Moon Kil Woong 5 months ago Contributor's comment

One thing that is doing well in the #tradewar so far is #oil. And with Iran in the crosshairs of the US the price of oil will most likely keep rising. It is disingenuous to expect Saudi Arabia to bring oil prices down. The US massive deficit has insured oil will go up in dollar terms and the US itself has been the country upping production to keep oil prices in check for quite some time. The point is, one can't snap their finger and increase supply. The Mid-East has been draining their reserves to keep oil flowing at the current levels. They can't do much else in the short term and maybe not the long term either.