All posts by Charles P

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Morning Brief – Monday 15th

Turkey and Trump(TNT-hopefully not)


With Turkey taking delivery of the first batch of Russian S400 missile systems last week, it was inevitable that POTUS would retaliate by imposing sanctions this week. It is unclear what those may include and there is a range of possibilities from the withholding of the F35 jetfighter manufactured by Lockheed Martin to more punitive measures. If you are feeling that a summer European vacation is just too expensive with GBP where it is, pause and consider a Turkish trip: the Lira is 18% weaker than last year. Sanctions will definitely not make the Lira stronger so Turkey’s tourist trade will likely benefit further.



Edgars Rinkevics


Last night the Latvian foreign minister warned the EU that they were failing to understand the hardening changing depth of feeling in the UK regarding a hard Brexit. It’s not just the likelihood of Boris Johnson winning the leadership contest, this was the weekend that there was much more discussion regarding the likelihood of NoDeal. All parts of the political spectrum acknowledged this and even Sir Richard Branson added his opinion for good measure and gave some forward exchange rate forecasts for GBP. Whatever you may think about all this, it would be rash not to consider the impact on you or your business of GBP moving to USD1 and to EUR 0.90. Those companies and individuals with foreign earnings will of course benefit but those who buy in goods and services from overseas will be substantially worse off-at least in the short term.



Fidel Castro-better at being a dictator than at arithmetic


Numbers freak, wanabee playboy and statistician SGM-FX’s Euan was duly impressed with the breaking news that Fidel Castro claimed to have slept with more than 35,000 women eclipsing the impressive records of Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson and Julio Iglesias. The numbers started falling apart when Euan checked out the claim that Fidel achieved this by sleeping with more than two women every day over 20 years. “That only adds up to 14,600”, groused Euan.




Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Friday 12th

Gold versus Silver


With gold having run up to over $1400 an ounce, market sages are dusting off their files and looking at the Gold to Silver ratio. At present that stands at 92.4 which means that gold is 92.4 times as expensive as silver. The thinking goes that rather than buy gold which is expensive by recent standards, one should buy silver and then swap it for gold once the ratio returns to a more normal level. Take care! Over the past 50 years we have been here before in 1991 when the ratio reached just over 100. The precious metal markets are not for the faint hearted. Forty years ago the Hunt Brothers from Texas had the idea of cornering the silver market. The old adage is how do you make a small fortune? The answer is start with a large one! The Hunt family found that out-not that they are in any way near to being down on their uppers!



Scotland; A Foreign Country


When Glaswegian John Irvine checked in for an EasyJet flight at Nice Airport  to return home, and was told that he was over his baggage allowance, what did he do? Obviously he put on 15 shirts and jerseys to avoid paying an excess fee. Funnily enough he was hot…very hot…but with more Scottish Pounds and Euros in his sporran or no doubt in all of his 15 sporrans…!



Arlo Guthrie


With social inequality activist and protest folk singer Arlo Guthrie turning 72 this week, it is worth noting that when he appeared at Woodstock in 1969, he was only 22; despite this shot at fame he succeeded in getting the song Coming into Los Angeles that he performed there banned from the radio since it was filled with multiple drug references and small point……, “he was off his head.”


His best known song was the 20 minute ramble named Alice’s Restaurant which is the complete opposite of many of our restaurant experiences these days now that the accountants have taken over to the detriment of the customer:


You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant


You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant


Walk right in, it’s around the back


Just a half a mile from the railroad track


You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant


All that social inequality effort and…Arlo’s still worth $10 million today!





Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Thursday 11th

Fed Up


Powell’s on board – we think – following his testimony to the House Finance Committee yesterday afternoon. The chairman of the Federal Reserve, the United States’ monetary policy and interest rate setting authority, spoke to politicians yesterday offering a dovish testimony that saw the value of the US Dollar fall sharply. The chairman cited international risks as a primary justification for a potential downward adjustment of interest rates from their present 2.25-2.5% band by (an unconfirmed) 25 basis points. Given that the chairman didn’t rule out a cut later this month confirms investors’ expectations that the yield or reward on US money will de facto fall later this month. The effort of pricing in this lower incentive to hold the greenback saw it fall by 0.35%.


The other risks that Powell cited as a possible justification to loosen monetary conditions to compensate for falling private investment was uncertainty surrounding the trade war and the impending debt ceiling. The first risk is self explanatory and can partially be read as a message back to Trump, someone that has been immensely critical if not damn-right rude about Powell’s chairmanship, that his ridiculous and ill-thought-through foreign policies create an unmanageable economic climate. The latter, the debt ceiling, is important because the higher US rates are, the more expensive interest repayments on borrowed money becomes, bringing the US closer to the brink regardless of marginal borrowing levels. A central banker, trade minister and treasury secretary all rolled into one?! Even Picasso would struggle to depict that one, but Jay Powell’s giving it a good go.


The message overall from yesterday’s testimony was amusing. If you missed yesterday’s testimony catch it online and watch a central banker looking at an economy with record low unemployment, record high equity prices, on-target inflation and one that added 224,000 jobs last month explain why he’s thinking about cutting rates. Whilst the chairman does have heavy influence over the Fed, it is by its very nature, Federal! And there’s still limited evidence that Powell’s voting peers believe that the economy is in a position whereby interest rates should be cut, reversing their own hikes in 2018. Beware therefore of markets over pricing monetary loosening via a weaker Dollar because it could well fall through.


The yield on the highly sensitive 2 year treasury note fell by up to 10 basis points yesterday. Yielding 1.92% ahead of the release of Powell’s written testimony, the reward for holding the note fell to 1.82% unwinding Dollar support along the way. The 10 year note dropped to 2.03% which is important not because of its drop yesterday but because of its survival of the 2% level. Only last Thursday, the yield on that very note sat comfortably below 2% showing that investors’ expectations for the Fed are still firming up versus where they were earlier in the month. 2% is an aggressive valuation for one of the world’s best performing currencies and there remains a serious risk that moving into the July meeting later this month that investors get cold feet, unwind loosening expectations and in doing so buy back their Dollars, raising USD across the board.





Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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Morning Brief – Wednesday 10th

Jeremy Corbyn-the Harry Houdini of UK politics(maybe)


After weeks of prevarication  despite intense pressure from his MPs, the Leader of HM’s opposition has said that there should be a further Referendum on the EU and at that time, Labour will campaign for the UK to remain in the EU. Brilliant! There is either zero or a miniscule chance of there being a further Referendum any time soon. Meanwhile back at Labour Party HQ, JC’s top advisers the so called 4Ms as their surnames all begin with the letter M are being subjected to attacks by the rest of the Labour Party fed up with their party being run by unelected officials. GBP neither shaken nor stirred but, it should be noted, having gone in a straight line downwards for the past 2 months since 5-5-19 when it stood at USD 1.32 to a 2 year low. Last night Hunt and Johnson slugged it out; both landed blows but it will change nothing: Johnson the almost certain winner on  22-7-19.



Beer in Qatar


As we know the state of Qatar has an uneasy relationship with alcohol since it is generally banned but is available in certain hotels and restaurants albeit with a high tax slapped on it. Over New Year a “sin tax” was slapped on which doubled the price of the amber nectar. Now it has been cut by 30% to burnish the credentials of Qatar as being user friendly to visitors ahead of the Football World Cup in 2022. Qatar along with Scandinavia remains at the top end of the charts when it comes to a night on the beer.



Tall Stor(e)y-Eye Witness Account:


He ran over London Bridge Station, got a boost from someone and did a pull up onto it”. 


SGM-FX keep fit convert Charles Porter was in the frame briefly for being the then unidentified man who scaled the Shard on Monday morning, but then the story started falling apart. Why?


1. It was at 05.15hrs and CP is not a natural 5 o’clock man. Well not AM anyway.


2. CP has shown no propensity to sport suction cups despite the WalkieTalkie being adjacent to SGM-FX HQ.


3. The nutcase who climbed the Shard was it transpired named George King.


Parkour Porter(not)….enough said.




Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Tuesday 9th

Swing Low


The carry trade is a favourite in foreign exchange (or indeed any) investment: use something cheap to buy something rewarding that you hope in turn is still worth something at the time you decide to cash your chips in. For example, with the Rand yielding 6.75% due to its underlying interest rate and the Euro in negative territory, you can achieve a solid profit by borrowing Euros for one year and purchasing Rand (enjoying the interest) so long as in 12 months’ time the Rand hasn’t fallen by 6.75% (not a guarantee many of you will note!). Now, with the Eurozone and Fed moving further down the path of monetary loosening, the relative reward of this trade gets even bigger, enticing demand into the market for emerging market currencies to the detriment of both major currencies. The evidence is clear: since mid-May when the debate about US monetary easing and the Eurozone perhaps restarting it’s buy everything policy, that very trade has become 4% more expensive when measured with a basket of 8 emerging market currencies.



But the risk behind this strategy and therefore the strength of emerging market currencies in general is sizeable. Yesterday served as a strong reminder of the risk that many emerging markets pose. Turkey by presidential decree removed Mr Cetinkaya from the post of central bank Governor only three years into a term of four following a year long disagreement over what appropriate monetary policy is. President Erdogan detests high interest rates believing that they constrain business by making the acquisition of money too pricey. Attacking one of the very virtues of an emerging market currency saw the Lira face its worst day in months selling off by 3% by the time yesterday was out. That’s a big chunk of any carry trade yield wiped out (43% for Euro funded Turkish carry trades) already so markets will continue to question the viability of the Lira as an investment in days to come. Investors will beg that Mr Erdogan read an economics text book and learn how money works. However, given his self-afforded status as a quasi-dictator perhaps there’re books that ought to be higher up the list!



Nonetheless emerging markets continue their rally but will face a tough assessment as we are offered the ECB’s and the Federal Reserves’ minutes from their last meetings this week. Any evidence that markets have overpriced the degree of easing that the respective boards are considering will have a net-negative impact upon emerging markets whilst raising the value of the Euro and US Dollar against their peers. With CFTC data released yesterday, we can now confirm that further conviction was added to the expectation of US economic weakening to the benefit of emerging markets. Long positions on the US Dollar were seen to have fallen but admittedly still remain the prevalent trade.



The same data confirmed investors’ condemnation of the Pound with short positioning reaching its highest level since September 2018. That means that registered money betting on a fall in Sterling has reach its highest level versus bets that believe it will rise in 10 months. Moving towards the leadership contest finale, expect a volatile Pound. It was a dire day for the Pound yesterday, falling towards (and overnight through) important areas of resistance particularly against the US Dollar. The fall occurred despite positive signals from EU Commission President nominee Von der Layen who mentioned that an extension to the Brexit deadline is permissible.




Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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Morning Brief – Monday 8th



Exit polls are reflecting what was widely expected: a widespread rejection of Syriza and incumbent PM Tsipras. The New Democracy Party led by Kyriakos Mitsokakis has a clear lead with 38% of the vote over Syriza with approx 28%. This will further strengthen Greece’s standing and build on its recent acceptance by the capital markets reflected in its return to the bond market.



UK Politics


This weekend has seen Boris Johnson predicted to win 75% of the Conservative Vote for which voting will close on Thursday following a TV debate on Tuesday between BJ and Jeremy Hunt. Labour have seen their support slump to 18% of the electorate polled and while Corbyn continues to resist projecting a concise and unequivocal position on Brexit, most of his party are begging him to come out in favour of Remain. GBP remains unchanged in early Asian trading following the sell off on Friday evening following a strong USD on the back of the employment stats.





The FY 2020 Budget has thrown up an array of statistics as the new finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeks to reinvigorate the economy, the most striking of which is the challenge represented by having a 45 year high unemployment rate of 6.1%. In India that means more than 30 million people looking for work. That is a lot of UB40s.





Just under an hours drive south west of Palermo in Sicily is a ghost town named Poggioreale abandoned since 1968 when it was hit by an earthquake. 50 years later the Mayor of the nearby New Poggioreale has hatched a plan to repopulate Poggioreale. Anyone with €1 can apply to buy a house. One important point is that every successful buyer must be able to demonstrate both the ability and the willingness to spend €50,000 on doing up their new bargain property. So if this appeals, get in touch with Mayor Girolamo Cangelos and stake your claim. That Sicilian sunshine is less than 3 hours away from the U.K. on BA, Easyjet or Ryanair!





Kent lovely Kelly Brooks revealed all this weekend: pie+chips+Guinness= an extra 2.5 stone or 16 kilos for her. Fortunately she has belatedly figured this one out and has dropped kilos, dress sizes  and yup the pie, chips and Guinness. Good for Kelly!





Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Friday 5th

Gold and the US Yield Curve


With gold over $1420 there is still more buying this week due to the fact that 3 month US Treasury Bill Yields are higher than the 10 year US Treasury Bond Yield. This bellwether indicator is closely followed because each time this has happened in the past 50 years, it has been followed by a recession. This is why almost half of money managers polled have responded that they believe that growth globally will be lower in 2020 than in 2019.





It is some time since we have written about this and it is timely to be reminded as we enter the summer months which traditionally give way to greater volatility in all markets when volumes are lower and more experienced managers are taking annual leave leaving their more junior colleagues to mind the shop. As savvy  investors in Bitcoin discovered when they watched their dreams come true and then subsequently crumble, it is not enough to buy low and watch the price rise if one is then unable to liquidate an investment due to a lack of liquidity. For a market in any asset class to operate efficiently, there is a requirement for sufficient buyers and sellers to satisfy both sellers and buyers. It may sound obvious but the most savage market corrections occur when there is an imbalance between buyers and sellers. This is not just about Crypto currency in 2018, it applied to DotCom stocks in 2001 and global equities in 2008. It is often said that most business failures occur due to a lack of liquidity rather than a loss of capital; one can debate that, but the best known recent example of a global institution rich in assets but poor in liquidity was Lehman Bros. Say no more. Back to foreign exchange: the largest and most liquid truly global market is FX with all that that brings. Just do not get in the way when there are more buyers than sellers! Markets have become once again complacent about the risk of a lack of liquidity.



Pop Politics


Reminded by the fact that exactly 50 years ago Brian Jones while in the process of being side lined by Rolling Stones Mick and Keith took his last swim in a pool in Hartfield, East Sussex, it was of course only a couple of years later that Peter Green (Greenbaum), the genius behind Fleetwood Mac, visited a commune and never returned to the band (which was subsequently led by Mick Fleetwood) sliding into a mixture of drink and drugs that resulted in or maybe exacerbated his schizophrenia. The way that Brian Jones due to his overindulgence in psychedelic drugs was dropped despite being the founder of the Rolling Stones was that his bandmates one day just took the van by a different route and left him standing on the side of the road. A hard world. However it’s not all bad news, according to our research, Peter Green is still worth $15 million today while the rest of the Fleetwood Mac line up are worth $200 million plus. Brian Jones less fortunately has been on the great sound stage in the sky since July 3 1969 forever playing his trademark white guitar on Ruby Tuesday:


Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday


Who could hang a name on you?


When you smile with every new day


Still I’m gonna miss you




Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Thursday 4th




The bond market was on guard yesterday, with money flooding into fixed income assets in anticipation of an even longer than foreseen period of accommodative monetary policy. Record yields were produced once again yesterday both within Europe and across the Atlantic. The reason? Among the leading causes of yesterday’s bond rally is the prospect of having Christine Lagarde, serving International Monetary Fund head, as the future President of the European Central Bank.


Besides Lagarde, who is also France’s former Minister of the Economy and Finance it is worth noting, are a surprising collection of nominees that have been put forward for the top jobs. The appointments will have to gain the approval of the European Parliament, however, if all goes to plan, the posts will look something like this: European Commission, a German Minister who’s been by Angela Merkel’s side as a cabinet member since her first chancellorship; Council President, a former Belgian Prime Minister of fire who has only just left his national office; a Spaniard as head of foreign policy; and yet another Italian as European Parliament President. There’s a lot wrong with this list at first sight with perhaps the exception of Josep Borrell as chief foreign policy guru man! Without boring you with the intricacies of each candidate, expect hiccups to each of their appointments and therefore potential volatility as the impact their presumed position has created in European equity, fixed income and currency markets is unwound in the blink of an eye.


The yield on Germany’s 10 year bond tumbled to within a whisker of the ECB’s deposit rate of -0.4%, extenuating its shocking rally into negative territory throughout 2019. Italy too, rallying off the back of positive fiscal negotiations and dialogue with the bloc, moved from 1.8% yield on a ten year note down to below 1.6%. Rallying bond markets usually spell headaches for the domestic currency, however the Euro, despite the rise of bond prices across the board, was relatively stable through yesterday. This is due to two factors – firstly, global, not just European, monetary expectations were falling with the Dollar’s own 10 year note hitting a 30 month low of 1.94%. When rewards are falling across the world, relative rewards are de facto limited, alleviating selling pressure from any one asset in favour of another. Secondly, with Italy’s dramatic rally being driven by the expectation that it and the Commission will not proceed with the excessive deficit procedure, risk surrounding the Eurozone decreased, limiting any justification for Euro short-selling.


The expectation that Lagarde, if confirmed as the next ECB President by the European Parliament, will be as dovish as her predecessor Mario Draghi stems from her endorsement of his policy moves throughout his tenure holding the reigns of the young bank. His 2012 speech, the “whatever it takes” moment, that paved the way to an un-funded spending plan of trillions of Euros by the central bank was hailed by Lagarde at the IMF as a successful and prudent move. So with inflation lagging and cuts baked in ahead of her potential arrival the expectation is that she could be one to follow through with further cuts into negative territory and even reintroduce elements of the asset purchase program. To see Euro weakness, keep an eye out for signals from the IMF chairwoman confirming this expectation and news of her intentions for her time in the top spot. For Euro strength, you’ll need to see signals of her defiance for the need for further monetary support and endorsements for more hawkish appointments to her staff perhaps including her rival for the nomination, German Bundesbank President, Jens Weismann.


Following that Euro focussed analysis all that’s left to say is happy 4th July and American Independence Day. Enjoy a relatively quiet day in the States amid thinner liquidity and limited action but get ready for tomorrow’s Labour Market data – it promises to be a big one!




Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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Daily Brief – Wednesday 3rd

Italy and its Budget: a contradiction in terms


As described here two weeks ago, Italy is pushing hard against tough budgetary restraints from the EU. The gap is €40 Billion. Italy’s Deputy PM is playing hardball and has reminded the EU just how much Italy owes to the rest of the EU with the clear implication being that Italy, if pushed, will suspend/default. This is why Italy is a European problem and not just an Italian one with their debts as follows in € Billions to:


France 285


Ireland 272


Germany 59


Belgium.  25


Spain.      21


UK.          18


Luxembourg 10


Portugal.  2


Total c € 700



US Tariffs and the global whiskey market


In addition to parmesan and gouda cheeses, it now appears that the tariffs when imposed will hit Scotch Whisky. The USA is the world’s largest export market for Scotch Whisky at GBP 1 Billion plus and the USA consumed 137 million of 70cl bottles last year-more than a third of a bottle for each and every American citizen! However to put this in perspective, Scotch Whisky accounts for only 12% of the USA’s whiskey consumption with home grown Rye and Bourbon in lead position with 48%! And that’s the thing about tariffs-they are a blunt instrument with all sorts of consequences: in this example Scotch Whisky is a luxury in the USA and for aficionados infinitely superior to domestic American whiskey.


Here is Don Mclean in 1971 with American Pie:


So bye, bye Miss American Pie


Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry


Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey ‘n’ Rye


Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die


This’ll be the day that I die


Don! You should have stuck to the Scotch!




Kylie Minogue


A spat on the SGM-FX desk between Graham (self-confessed Kylie fan) and Euan who is challenging the assertion that Kylie is Australia’s best export other than Fosters Lager. For the record chaps, Kylie is worth AUD 100 Million and has been a feature of stage and screen since her debut in Neighbours in 1986. Kylie has won so many awards and recognition globally that we could not possibly list them here. Style icon Euan was rocking in his Iron Maiden tee shirt last weekend in the Weald of Kent while Kylie was wowing Glastonbury. One other thing and conscious that I need to be cautious in these ultra PC times, Kylie is we should not forget, both the pop princess but also the numero uno “go to” when it comes to Gay Icons. Not sure whether this is relevant boys, but do Calm Down!





Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Tuesday 2nd




Even the pros at Disney might have trouble thinking up and depicting the delicate rise and fall of emotions between China’s Xi Jinping and the States’ Donald Trump. Following this weekend’s summit, we’re closer to the resolve, the closing credits and watching the fully grown man in the back row pretending he has allergies… he wasn’t crying. But markets are at risk of overpricing the resolve. We’re nowhere near there yet!


The median consensus was that progress would be made in the form of a ceasefire and commitment to not escalate the tariff war any further. That’s exactly what we got. Trump’s explicit concession aimed towards Huawei was an undoubted bonus but not one that investors should read too much into.


So far, markets haven’t and the reaction has been limited. Therefore, rest assured that from next week, the FX universe will once again be central banks; central banks; central banks! Even last night, the cut in rates from the Reserve Bank of Australia to record lows has brought the global monetary agenda back to the foreground. The US Dollar didn’t unwind a great deal of defensive demand yesterday and only the polar opposites of the risk spectrum registered any serious movement. Equities enjoyed a strong rally yesterday as investors’ appetite for risk increased following the niceties in Osaka and gold has fallen from its record high positioning in the days ahead of the event. The progress on trade improved expectations for global economic activity as the probability of resolution on tariffs ratcheted higher.


European leaders too appeared to make progress of their own. Sideline talks allowed the two Eurozone ‘heavyweights’ of France and Germany to suggest and discuss permutations of the future leaders of their institutions. Positions up for grabs this time around include the Commission, Council, European Parliament, and European Central Bank presidencies, and the position of high representative for foreign policy. Let’s get frank. I don’t personally think any of the presidencies bar the Bank mean much. The commission has a monopoly on legislative proposal and its presidency probably has the greatest influence but regardless, the appointments of each member state cannot afford the President anything like the unilateral power associated with his/her title. The parliament is all but powerless and the Council president will have to contend with 28/7 heads of state and do so as their junior. Markets will care who, as ECB President Draghi finishes his term while further rate cut expectations are baked into the dove-pie of European monetary policy, will take control of the monetary scene. As usual, the fight over national fiefdoms will be fierce and two contenders from, you guessed it, Germany and France are neck and neck at the front.


The sun may be shining across the United Kingdom today but a shadow over the economy is being cast by economic data. Factory output soft data, a key indicator of economic growth, registered at 49.4 for June. What does that mean? Well, it means that more than 50% of businesses, whose managers participated in the survey, reported declining output versus the previous period. The fall manifested in the weakest reading since late October in a sign that Brexit and global trade uncertainty is battering the shores of British industry.


Part of the effect is an unwinding of fresh production in favour of utilising the stock pile of goods that manufacturers created to protect themselves against a hard Brexit in the first half of the year. The volatility in Sterling generated by erratic economic data is contributing to a lack of appetite for the Pound particularly given the status its already attributed with as the untradeable currency. On the data front, US jobs data this Friday will be crucial. With unemployment at a 50 year low in the US, the Fed is struggling to justify the interest rate cut this month that the market is screaming for. Any sign of labour market cooling will give the green light to the Fed, consolidating interest rate cut expectations to the detriment of the Dollar and delight of equities.




Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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