Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Can the bears take control from China?

In the wake of the BHP Billiton warning about slowing steel demand growth in China, global equity markets deflated overnight. This incident illustrates the point I made earlier in the week about how the health of this equity rally depends on the American consumer.

Another market analyst made the point to me succintly about the lagging performance of commodities and commodity related stocks. The Aussie Dollar is underperforming the Canadian Dollar. Australia is more levered to China (and more weighted to base metals) while Canada is more exposed to the United States. If CADUSD is outperforming AUDUSD, then it's a sign that the market believes that there is more near term economic upside in the US compared to China.

Bullish tripwires
I have made the point that depending on the American consumer to fuel this equity rally is a risky bet. If this rally is have any real legs, then we need to see a broader based rally around the world. Right now, the weak link is the Chinese outlook. As a pre-condition, commodity prices ideally should start to recover more and begin to take a leadership position in the next few months in order for this bull to get a second wind.

Here are what I am watching for. First, commodity sensitive currencies like the Aussie Dollar need to, not only hold support, but to show some strength and rally through resistance at 108.60.

Similarly, the Canadian Dollar, which has held up better than the AUDUSD exchange rate, needs to rally through resistance at 101.60.

Finally, I am watching the Hang Seng Index, which rallied up to 21,800 but couldn't overcome the overhead resistance at that level. I view the more established Hong Kong market as an important barometer of Chinese policies towards the teetering property sector.

The Hang Seng is now approaching a minor technical support level. Should it decisively break support, that would be a sign that the bears have won a round in the bull-bear tug of war.

Cam Hui is a portfolio manager at Qwest Investment Fund Management Ltd. ("Qwest"). This article is prepared by Mr. Hui as an outside business activity. As such, Qwest does not review or approve materials presented herein. The opinions and any recommendations expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or recommendations of Qwest.

None of the information or opinions expressed in this blog constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or other instrument. Nothing in this article constitutes investment advice and any recommendations that may be contained herein have not been based upon a consideration of the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific recipient. Any purchase or sale activity in any securities or other instrument should be based upon your own analysis and conclusions. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Either Qwest or Mr. Hui may hold or control long or short positions in the securities or instruments mentioned.

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