ING: Lægger Trump i dag op til øget Kina-konflikt omkring HK?

Præsident Donald Trump vil senere fredag komme med en kommentar om Kinas nye sikkerhedslove for Hongkong. Det store spørgsmål er, om Trump dermed vil skærpe handelskrigen mod Kina. Vil det omfatte sanktioner? Hvis det påvirker Hongkong-dollaren, kan det få alvorlige følger for Hongkongs rolle på finansmarkedet.

Uddrag fra ING:

Markets await Trump verdict on HK

President Trump is due to comment on the China-Hong-Kong situation later today…markets to tread water in the meantime

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Mass protests in Hong Kong are having an economic impact

HKD Q&A

It feels an anticlimactic end to the week here in Asia after all the noise about China and Hong Kong earlier, though this is a show that will likely run and run, and President Trump is apparently due to make a statement later today about this. Following the comments by Mike Pompeo earlier this week, it is possible that President Trump will use the occasion to announce some sanctions, which as we noted previously, will likely not include tariffs at this time, but could target individuals and impose visa requirements for travel to the US.

There is, as there often is at these times, renewed speculation about the HKD, and 12M forward points have risen substantially over the week, though they are down to about +600 from a high of about +800 a few days ago.

I’m taking the opportunity to re-run some comments from Iris Pang who was asked about this earlier this week (but then I lost her email), so to give them the light they should have already had, here are some HKD Q&As from Iris:

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Q: Could the HKD peg be reset to other currencies apart from the USD (CNY for example)?

A: Yes, but setting the HKD peg to other currencies or at other levels is not wise when economic and financial risks are rising, as they are now. So it is possible, but the timing is bad. Moreover, even if the HKMA wanted to change the peg, pegging it to a not-fully convertible currency (in practice CNY is not widely used internationally) would dampen HK’s financial market severely. Changing to a basket of currencies, similar to that used for the CNY might be an option, though again, the timing is wrong.

Q: Instead of re-pegging, could the HKMA re-set the upper part of the band to a higher level?

A: Resetting the band would only be a viable option when financial markets were calm, otherwise it would be something similar to Russia in the past.

Q: If the US adopted negative interest rates, could this be another reason for the HKMA to reconsider the USD peg?

A: The risk premium on HK assets should be high enough to avoid negative interest rates even if the Fed adopted such an approach, which we think unlikely. So it shouldn’t undermine the HKD.

So perhaps not quite the outright rejection of any possibility of a change to the HKD currency regime that may historically have been the usual response. But plenty of reasons for thinking that it will not happen, at least not imminently, but perhaps only if markets calm down, and even then, probably a much more nuanced approach than simply pegging to the CNY. Tense times though.

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Rest of Asia

We’ve already had plenty of data out from South Korea, following yesterday’s slightly uneventful BoK rate meeting (yes, they did cut rates another 25bp, but this appears to be it for rate policy and there isn’t much evidence that QE is in the pipeline either – see here for more). Today’s releases of April industrial production -6.0%MoM (-4.5%YoY), weaken the trend but don’t overturn the verdict that there is still a weak production recovery going on.

Japanese data were fairly bad, with retail sales for April registering a 13.7%YoY decline, and industrial production down 14.4%YoY. Both figures were bad and worse than expected, but it’s all various shades of dreadful these days, so nothing to get too anxious about. And the Tokyo inflation numbers suggest that national inflation will pick up by 0.3pp when May data is released, so some signs of supply disruption causing some relative price shocks. This isn’t inflation, but a price level shock. Don’t start saying deflation is coming, or you will get a long lecture from me, or I will force you to read this note. 

 

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