2022 has been a notably volatile year for markets around the world, and it doesn’t seem as if this trend is letting up just yet. As geopolitical tensions raise their head yet again, and American monetary policymakers still struggle to rein in record inflation rates, major Indices and Commodities are responding.
Tensions in Taiwan
Since February, eyes around the globe have been drawn to the post-Soviet space as the war between Russia and Ukraine rages on. However, even as the military conflict in Eastern Europe seems as far from resolution as ever, tensions on the eastern edge of the Eurasian landmass seem to be heating up.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday evening. While this island nation has strong military and diplomatic links to the United States, it is considered by its larger neighbour, the People’s Republic of China, to be part of the latter’s territory. Accordingly, the visit of such a high-level American politician to Taiwan has been taken by the Communist Party of China as an act of provocation. Chinese authorities have repeatedly, over the years, stated their intention to politically reunify Taiwan with the mainland, whereas top-level representatives of the U.S. have maintained their commitment to come to the Taiwanese government’s aid should the Chinese military attempt to accomplish this goal by force.
Investors in Asia could be growing nervous regarding the potential for escalated conflict between the world’s two strongest powers. Such a course of events would not only likely come at the cost of human lives, but also have severe implications for global supply lines that are still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic era. (Source:Barrons)
Perhaps because of these concerns, major Asian Indices traded down yesterday. The Nikkei 225 (Japan 225) fell by 1.4%, while the Hong Kong-based Hang Seng Index (Hong Kong 50) lost over 2.3% over the course of the day. While these two major markets have recovered by 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively, as of the time of writing Wednesday, much of their near-term trajectory could be determined by decisions made at the highest levels in Beijing and Washington, D.C.
Crude Demand Drops
Inflation has proven to be a consistent source of worry for policymakers and average citizens alike in recent months, and one of its major drivers has been jumps in the costs of key Commodities throughout much of 2022. However, in recent days this trend has been reversed.
So far this week, the price of Oil (CL) is down by 4.8%, while the cost of Natural Gas (NG) has declined 6%. According to market experts, recession fears could be the culprit. The Federal Open Market Committee, which determines the course of American monetary policy, has stayed the course of rapid hikes in interest rates following recent summits.
Although Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has made it clear that such moves, in his opinion, are necessary in order to reduce consumer price increases that have risen to levels unseen since the early 1980s, fears of a broad-based business retreat are growing. Many see the potential of a recession caused by the Fed’s move to the hawkish end of the monetary policy spectrum as growing ever more real. Because of this, traders may be in the process of downgrading their predictions with regard to the economy’s near-term demand for essential fossil fuels, thus exerting negative pressure on the price of Oil and Natural Gas.
In keeping with the tendencies observed in the markets in recent months, it doesn’t seem as if volatility and uncertainty are on their way out any time soon. How trading outcomes will ultimately play out remains uncertain at this time.