Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Tuesday, August 18th

  • Economy News
Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Tuesday, August 18th
Credit: © Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith -- The dollar hits a 28-month low against its peers as the GOP's latest stimulus package fails to excite. Gold creeps back above $2,000/oz. Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) earnings show how busy Americans have been during lockdown, while Walmart (NYSE: WMT ) earnings are due later, along with housing starts data. Oracle (NYSE: ORCL ) has reportedly joined the race for the U.S. operations of TikTok and the administration has cranked up the pressure on Huawei still further. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Tuesday, August 18th.

1. Dollar hits 28-month low

The dollar slid to its lowest in over two years, amid expectations that the loss of fiscal support will slow the U.S. economy and force the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy again, further eroding its traditional yield premium over other reserve currencies.

By 6:25 AM ET (1025 GMT), the dollar index , which tracks the greenback against a basket of six developed-market currencies, was down 0.4% at 92.493, having earlier hit a 28-month low of 92.457.

The dollar also slid to its lowest since January against the yuan , to trade at 6.9258 yuan on the official market and 6.9209 offshore.

The dollar’s weakness has revived the rally in gold and silver in recent days. Gold futures rose back above $2,000 an ounce overnight, while Silver , at $28.40 an ounce, is now up 20% in the last five days.

2. U.S. cranks up pressure on Huawei; Oracle eyes Tiktok

Shares in Asian semiconductor makers slid after the U.S. administration said it would extend sanctions against Huawei further.

Under a new rule announced by Washington on Monday, non-U.S. companies will need a special license to sell Huawei any chips made using U.S. technology. The rule extends even to widely available, mass-produced chips made by overseas firms, crimping Huawei’s ability to source components.

Meanwhile on another front of the U.S. campaign against Chinese tech, Bloomberg reported that Oracle is considering joining the race to buy the U.S. operations of video streaming service TikTok from its Chinese owner Bytedance.

3. Stocks set to edge higher at open

U.S. stocks are set to open fractionally higher, with none of the three major indexes really responding to the latest efforts by Senate Republicans to break the deadlock over a stalled stimulus package.

By 6:25 AM ET, the Dow 30 futures contract was up 76 points or 0.3%, while US 500 Futures were up 0.2%  and the Nasdaq 100 futures contract was up 0.3%.

The day’s biggest earnings release will come before the open from Walmart . Home Depot has already got the ball rolling with a resounding 23% gain in comparable sales in the last three months that illustrate how lockdown measures have diverted more energy into home improvement. Adjusted earnings rose by a forecast-beating 27% from a year earlier.

Results are also due from Sea Ltd (NYSE: SE ), the south-east Asian Internet platform operator which has been compared to Tencent and which has been on a hot streak ever since the pandemic swept across the world.

4. Housing starts, building permits data due

Home Depot’s earnings will sharpen appetites – in the absence of anything more substantial - for the latest news from the housing market, which is due at 8:30 AM ET.

The housing market has been a beacon of relative strength in recent weeks, with the National Association of Home Builders’ market index rising to match its highest level ever, amid a flurry of interesting from urbanites flocking to less densely populated suburbs.

Housing starts are expected to have posted a third straight monthly gain to 1.24 million in July, while building permits are expected to rise to 1.32 million.

5. Crude drifts off highs ahead of API data

The American Petroleum Institute will publish its estimate of last week’s movements in U.S. oil inventories at 4:30 PM, with analysts looking for a further drawdown of stocks that accumulated when demand collapsed in the second quarter.

Consensus forecasts for the government’s official data , due on Wednesday, indicate a draw of 2.48 million barrels. That would represent a fourth straight weekly draw, albeit the smallest draw of those four weeks.

The figures come a day ahead of a meeting of OPEC+ technical experts, which according to reports is unlikely to recommend any deviation from the planned path of output by the cartel and its allies.

By 6:30 AM, U.S. crude futures were down 0.3% at $42.78 a barrel, while Brent futures were down 0.1% at $45.71 a barrel.

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