Following five up days in a row commencing on Friday 4th January, the US equity rally ran out of steam Friday, the main Indices all ending (just) in the red, albeit the NASDAQ is still showing a 5% year to date gain and the S&P500 is up over 3.5%. The VIX is nevertheless continuing to leak lower, off more than a point Friday and now back on an 18 handle, half the level seen either side of Christmas Day. This, together with a generally weaker dollar and smartly higher Chinese Yuan, has driven gains of about 1.5% in both the AUD and NZD over the course of last week We can only speculate whether the ongoing US government partial shutdown, now in its 24th day, the longest in history and with no signs of early resolution, is starting to gnaw at otherwise positive sentiment. The latter has been driven by the soothing words from Fed officials in the last week or so and rising optimism that the US and China will resolve a chunk of their trade differences before the 90-day moratorium on further US tariff action kicks in (March 1st). Encouraging in this respect was news Friday that China’s Vice premier, Liu He, will be visiting Washington on Jan 30-31st for further trade talks.
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