By Greg Peel
The Dow rose 80 points, or 0.6%, while the S&P gained 0.7% to 1461 and the Nasdaq added 0.5%.
Wall Street is by nature Republican, with ideas of high taxes, social spending and big government anathema to the capitalist cause. We have now entered a period in which the ebb and flow of the presidential campaign will become more influential on daily Wall Street moves, as was apparent last night. Romney was declared the winner of the first debate, which took place after the close of trade on Wednesday, and last night's positive session has been dubbed the "Romney Rally".
If that is a fair assessment, we may have identified where a potential December quarter pullback might come from, if not from weak US earnings reports over the next month, Spain stuffing things up, or China sinking even further. Romney's star may be back on the ascendancy from the depths of the his 47% gaffe, but Obama is still well ahead in polling in the key swing states. At the very least there are two more debates to come, and a month's worth of poll fluctuations. Sometime in between we have to approach the fiscal cliff.
As far as Wall Street is concerned, the best result would be a Romney victory and an implied end to the fiscal cliff scenario. A Republican president would more than likely enjoy a Republican majority in the house, so rightly or wrongly, a new administration could cut spending and not hike taxes with impunity. It is then debatable, from Wall Street's perspective what the next best result would be. A Republican would say a Republican Congress to balance the Democrat in the White House, but that (quite possible) scenario may well lead to stalemate once more and a resultant credit rating downgrade, as it did last year. So perhaps a Democrat Congress would be best alongside Obama, as at least, like or loathe it, policy making can move forward. Either way, if Wall Street keeps rising on any further Romney momentum, the downside risk on an Obama victory increases.
We'll be able to talk about this now for at least a month, and maybe three. What fun!
The minutes of the QE3 Fed meeting were released last night, but no one learned anything that didn't already know.
The ECB held a scheduled policy meeting last night and as expected, nothing changed. The Bank of England also met, also kept its cash rate steady, and made no change to its existing level of QE activity. It was at the subsequent ECB press conference that president Mario Draghi provided comfort for markets, suggesting that he is ready to move on planned bond purchases "today".
He nevertheless reiterated that Outright Monetary Transactions, or OMTs as they will now be known (nothing's real until it has an acronym), will only be triggered when a bail-out request is made. He also reiterated that such a bail-out would come with conditions.
Come in Madrid. Stricter conditions and their political consequences may be what's holding Prime Minister Rajoy back, but then he's already brought down a tough new budget resulting in rioting in the streets. What could get worse? Talk is that perhaps he's waiting for the result of the regional election and independence referendum in Catalonia (November 25), but the rumour is he's been told by Merkel to wait. No one seems sure, however, how long Merkel wants Rajoy to wait if that is indeed the case. For a week, till after her dental appointment? For a year, providing more time for closer fiscal union in the eurozone? For all of eternity, because that's the speed at which Europe likes to move?
Global markets once again wish Europe could just bloody well get on with it. This harks back to earlier in the year when markets started to pray that Greece would be given the boot, which it hasn't, but consensus still has a Greek exit pencilled in down the track.
Twenty-four hours is a long time in the oil market. On Wednesday night, the Brent crude price drifted down to below its 200-day moving average and a wave of technical selling was sparked, probably computer-led, which flowed on to West Texas and resulted in 4% price falls. Then Syria bombed Turkey and Turkey bombed Syria and geopolitics were immediately back in the frame. The Turkish parliament has now provided the prime minister with the power to send in troops.
Neither Syria nor Turkey are big oil producers on the global scale, but vital pipelines do cross the region. Syria is, of course, backed by Iran, and Turkey is a NATO member. What could possibly go wrong? Well at the very least there could be a disruption to global oil supply, so last night both Brent and West Texas bounced back 4%. Brent rose US$4.41 to US$112.58/bbl and West Texas rose US$3.48 to US$91.62/bbl. In a poor case of timing, a refinery fire in Texas is threatening to disrupt US gasoline supply, sending gasoline futures up 5%.
So everything that was down in our market yesterday on the energy front ? your Woodsides ((WPL)), BHPs ((BHP)) et al ? will be back up today.
The strength of Draghi's OMT commitment at his press conference, even though nothing is new, was enough to push the euro higher last night and thus send the US dollar index down 0.7% to 79.35. This allowed gold to rise $12.20 to US$1790.40/oz and the Aussie to recover 0.3% to US$1.0245.
Base metals once again did a lot of nothing much in London.
The SPI Overnight was up 11 points or 0.3%.
Today in Australia will no doubt see the completion of the trilogy of disaster, with the release of the September construction PMI. Tonight in the US it's the jobs numbers.
Daylight Savings begins this weekend for relevant states, so as of Tuesday morning, the NYSE will close at 7am Sydney time, rather than 6am.