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The Risks of the French Election and How to Play Them

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Elections and votes have been among the worst nightmares of politicians and some investors as well. The Brexit vote last summer, the Italian constitutional referendum, the Dutch elections, and of course Donald Trump’s march to victory all stirred up markets, especially because of the huge errors made by polling companies and other forecasters in some cases. The outcomes of these votes were sometimes irrelevant for the big picture, but in the case of Brexit and the US elections, the final result defined trading in financial markets for a longer period of time.

The Great British Pound fell to a 35-year low below the 1.20 level against the Dollar after the Brexit, even though the pair was as high as 2.10 before the credit crisis, and still breached 1.70 in 2014. Those familiar with currency markets know that this move is YUGE! Then there was the “Trump-rally” that ignited US stocks to new all-time highs towards the end of last year, especially boosting the financial sector and industry-related companies.

The Next Big Thing

We are quickly approaching the next possible political earthquake, the French presidential election. As the country’s political system is strongly centered around the President, this single vote can define the direction of the second biggest power of the EU for the coming years or even decades. The country faces several political and economic problems, which could grow into a full-blown crisis if the steam runs out of the global recovery or a populist candidate gets elected. Because of this, the elections can provide great trading opportunities in the coming weeks.

The French Election System

The election consists of two rounds (if no candidate gets 50% in the first round), with the winner and the runner-up of the first round “qualifying” to the second, decisive run-off vote. The first round will be held on the 23rd of April, while the likely second round is scheduled for the 7th of May.

As of now, there are four candidates with a realistic chance of making the second round and winning the election. The traditional right is divided by far right candidate Marie Le Pen and more centrist Francois Fillon while the left is dominated by pro-EU and economic reformist Macron, and the rapidly rising “Trumpesque” anti-EU candidate Melenchon.

Chance of Winning Frexit possible? Trade Taxes Immigrant Policy
Macron 55% No Free Down Pro
Le Pen 25% Yes Protectionist Up Anti
Fillon 10% No Free Down? Anti
Melenchon 10% Yes Protectionist Up Pro

 

For financial markets, Macron and Fillon are the “positive” candidates, representing the establishment, with some possibly progressive economic reforms that could mitigate the economic and social problems. Le Pen and Melenchon are definitely the anti-establishment candidates, and even the hint of their election could result in “flight-to-safety” and a significant sell-off in risk assets. The Euro got under pressure lately as Melenchon gained in the polls in the past two weeks.

Under Le Pen and Fillon even a Frexit vote might be in the realm of possibilities, although given the popularity of the EU, and the French constitutional system, it is a highly unlikely outcome. The other most important differences in the candidates’ programs are also listed in the chart above.

 

French election-polling history (source: Bloomberg.com)

As there is a huge difference between the candidate’s first round and second round chances, for now the closest we can get to predict the market’s reaction is to look at the polling numbers for the candidates and the chances of the different pairings for the second round.

Candidate 1st Round Polling Average
Le Pen 23%
Macron 22%
Fillon 19%
Melenchon 18%

Currently, it’s very important to look at the chances of the different face-offs in the second round of the referendum as well:

Pairing Chance of Outcome
Macron-Le Pen 61%
Le Pen-Fillon 17%
Le Pen-Melenchon 10%
Fillon-Macron 9%
Macron-Melenchon 2%
Fillon-Melenchon 1%

 

Right now Melenchon’s rise is the most important tendency, as it makes some “horror” scenarios more likely. Melenchon is drawing in inactive voters while also attracting the voters of Hamon, making the last weeks that much unpredictable.

As for trading, the divide in the centrist field between the moderate candidates makes a tail-risk event more likely in the first round. The highest probability Le Pen-Macron and Le Pen-Fillon face-offs will probably lead to the success of the moderate candidate, but a further surge in the popularity of Melenchon could raise the chances of a Le Pen-Melenchon face off.

That said, even if one of the two most likely pairs make the run-off round, Le Pen might cause a surprise, despite her base being less flexible. We see more uncertainty regarding the first round, with plenty of room for the market to “get scared”.

Let’s take a look at the ways of betting on a shocking result:

Buying generic safe-haven and risk-off assets:

  • Gold
  • Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc
  • US Treasuries, German Bunds
  • Volatility ETFs (VIXY, or to a lesser extent VIXM)

Selling or shorting generic risk-on assets:

  • Stocks
  • Copper and other industrial metals

Event specific assets:

  • Shorting the Euro
  • Selling (shorting) French and Eurozone equities, French bonds
  • Playing the widening of the French-German government bond yield-spread
  • Playing contagion: shorting Italian equities and government bonds

Should the surprising result materialize, it is important to note that not all affected assets will produce sustainable moves. Thanks to the low-interest rate policies around the worlds, stocks are still in a global bull market and they will likely recover, at least temporarily, even if a negative outcome materializes. Stock market tops are processes not one time events, but a scary French result will be a huge blow that could trigger a major correction in equities, especially in Europe.

The long-term downtrend in the Euro/US Dollar pair, Weekly Chart analysis

On the other hand, the Euro might start another leg down in its multi-year decline, targeting at least parity with the US Dollar. Government bonds are likely to diverge in the Eurozone, as break-up fears get stronger, and trust in the monetary union deteriorate. Conversely, if Macron or Fillon wins the election, expect a healthy bounce in the Euro and European equities, although, given the recent escalation in international politics, a lot of unpredicted things might happen in the next three weeks.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 349 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Ershad

    April 21, 2017 at 3:48 am

    Hi mate,

    Would you recommend selling gold now or waiting to see what the first round of the elections go?
    Also can you recommend a stop loss price also?

    Thanks
    Ershad

    • Mate Cser

      April 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Hi Ershad,

      Viable stop-loss levels are near the $1270, $1262, and $1240 levels, ($1278 for day-trading) depending on your size and time-frame. If you want to play a surprise on the elections, gold is a great choice, it’s in a long-term uptrend, and it’s considered the number one safe-haven asset. Still, if on of the “better” candidate-pairs goes to the second round, gold will likely fall in the short run.

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Altcoins

Crypto: Is Relative Value Investing Time Finally Here?

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For at least the past six months you have been kind enough to listen while the topic of relative value in cryptocurrencies has repeated more than once.  Could it finally be happening? Things are certainly in place. It seems to show every time the price of Bitcoin or any of the altcoins suddenly spikes for no apparent reason.

That is the time when investors buy crypto simply because there is no better value in things like stocks, bonds, real estate, gold or currencies.  So far this has not happened all that often, but things could finally be changing. The fact that crypto prices remain near 2018 lows, and with certain exceptions, the news has been pretty good, helps set the stage.

Until now investors in conventional assets have been simply too content.  And why not, the economy in the US is humming at a 4.2% annual rate. The S&P 500 has tacked on another 8.5% so far and seems to be cruising through the traditionally volatile month of September to reach new records.  

And here is the real tattle tale, the CBOE VIX is near 2018 lows around 11. Without going into all the details, the VIX is Wall Street’s traditional measure of investor fear.  During the 2008 financial crisis, the VIX hit 60. Back in February it was at 37. That was about the time the S&P 500 fell 10%. So get the idea: today, investors are too content.  That needs to change before crypto’s relative value shines through. Here is something to focus on.

The key to the above average S&P performance has been the contribution of the tech sector. When you take out the near 22% increase from the market cap weighted S&P, well, you cut well over half of that performance down to only about 3%.  That still not bad, but it indicates a far more narrow market than smart investors should be comfortable with. What would happen to the VIX if the tech sector suddenly took a dive of 10%?

Sound crazy? Hardly, a 10%+ correction in tech stocks has taken place three times just since 2016, so this isn’t a far fetched idea.  In fact Barbara Kollmeyer at MarketWatch just penned an article titled: Bad news is building for this once-hot tech sector.  If her views prove out, this could be the key to driving investors to some of the values offered by crypto.

It all starts with the social media companies that form the backbone of the FANG stocks. Here is a sample. She opens with the thoughts of Tony Greer who heads TG Macro and who has a sour message on Twitter (TWTR) and Facebook (FB). According to Tony: “It’s finally time to be short social media” pointing out a “massive topping pattern.”

While the stock market generally may not be experiencing traditional levels of volatility, lately tech stocks have charted a different course.  In referring to that change, Greer identifies September as a time of big change.

“That period of volatility put in a big top and a double top in the social media ETF. Now it has broken its steepest ascending trend line, it’s broken down below all the major moving averages and they’re starting to curl over on top of it, which to me is going to cause another leg of a waterfall.”

The final proof of technical weakness is shown in the Global X Social Media ETF that contains a handful of social media names from Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet. This little gauge is actually down around 3% this year.

In addition to his technical observations, he points the negativity surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, subsequent upbeat earnings, then news that the platform was losing users.

Technology Is More Than Social Media

Lest we look for just any reason to be buying crypto it is only fair to mention the obvious. So far this year the tech sector has managed to add 22% even with the substantial underperformance of social media.  Any notion of painting the world coming to an end would be misleading.

However, technology has many interrelated links and sometimes when one sector is under pressure it can spread.  In the meantime the gap between overvalued stocks and depressed crypto prices is setting the stage for the search for value to have its day in the sun. So keep one eye on the VIX.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 105 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Analysis

Pre-Market: S&P 500, Dow Hit Record High Amid Global Rally

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The major global indices are marching higher in a concerted fashion today, as the risk-on shift that started after Trump’s trade announcement continues in earnest. Asian stocks were up, but not enthusiastic, while European equities are strong, with the major benchmarks being around 1% higher today. The US market is still the island of bulls, and with the surging past the January highs, all of the major indices left behind the deep correction that started with the VIX-induced crash in February.

S&P 500 Futures, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

The S&P 500 is also trading at its record high after the open, and although the Nasdaq is still shy of its respective all-time high, and small caps haven’t joined the party either, the technical advantage of Wall Street is striking.

The Dollar’s dip is clearly helping risk assets globally, even as emerging markets are not particularly strong, since the rising US Treasury yields are making some investors cautious amid the risk rally.

10-year US Treasury Yield, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

The bond selloff, or yield surge, is arguably the most important trend of the current market, and as the Fed’s meeting will take place next week and there are no crucial events before it, the trend could even accelerate before the likely rate hike.

Whatever happens, yields are already at multi-year highs across the curve, and the tighter credit conditions will likely further squeeze the most vulnerable countries in the next risk-off period.

Euro Hits 2-Month High as Dollar Still Under Pressure

EUR/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Economic releases were clearly on the bullish side today, with British Retail Sales and the Philly Fed index both beating the consensus estimate. The British measure was a huge positive surprise and that helped the Pound and the Euro in hitting two-month highs against the USD, which has been drifting lower against most of its major peers during the current risk-on shift. The EUR/USD pair topped the 1.1750 level before pulling back slightly, while the GBP/USD pair is trading above 1.32 currently.

Copper, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Commodities haven’t followed stocks higher today, with copper and the WTI Crude contract both losing some ground. Copper still failed to show meaningful strength, and it was hurt today by the relative weakness of the Chinese stock market as well.

On the other hand, precious metals ticked higher, with gold edging closer to its one-month high near $1220, thanks to the weakness in the Dollar. Gold might be ready for a stronger rally, as its stability amid the rising Treasury yields is impressive following months of weakness.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 349 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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Analysis

Crypto Update: Coins Settle Down After End-Of-The-Day Bitcoin Madness

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While the short-term technical setup has been little changed in the cryptocurrency segment in the past 24 hours, a volatile dump&pump period made headlines in Bitcoin. The most valuable coin got smashed lower right before the futures market close, violating the $6275 support and plunging as low as $6100, triggering a downgrade in our trend model to neutral. BTC than surged higher a few minutes later and shot up to the $6500 resistance before settling down near $6400, where it stands today in European trading as well.

The possible manipulation event (or simply a closing imbalance in the futures market) dragged the rest of the market with it, although the moves were less pronounced in altcoins, and today, the market has been calm across the board, with most of the majors sporting modest gains amid the improving sentiment. On a positive note, Ripple is holding on to its gains from Tuesday, and today’s new swing high triggered a buy signal, which is a much-needed positive sign for the still generally bearish segment.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Bitcoin’s long-term outlook is unchanged but the quick recovery from yesterday’s spike lower is a plus for bulls, even as the $6275 level is still in focus and the coin still haven’t shown strong bullish momentum.

With that in mind, traders should still be cautious with new positions, since the short-term outlook for the segment remains mixed, and BTC continues to trade dangerously close to the key long-term zone near $5850. Below $6275 further support is found at $6000, while resistance is ahead at $6500, $6750, and $7000.

ETH/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ethereum continues to trade at a very important technical juncture, trying to establish a short-term uptrend after last week’s rally and avoid a re-test of the bear market lows. The fact that Ethereum remained stable amid yesterday’s Bitcoin move, and recovered to its short-term trading range is positive, but the coin has to show bullish momentum soon to remain on a short-term buy signal.

A sustained move below $200 would warn of a re-test of the lows but a new swing high could open up the way towards $235 and $260, with further strong resistance ahead between $275 and $280. Traders could still enter new short-term positions, but full positions are still not recommended given the bearish long-term trend.

Ripple Hits 1-Month High Above $0.35

XRP/USDT, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ripple is rallying again today, scoring a new high above the key resistance zone near $0.35 and triggering a buy signal in our trend model with the bullish swing. The next major resistance zone is found near the $0.42 price level, close to the dominant broad declining trendline, with a weaker short-term resistance level at $0.3750, the August spike high, and found at $0.32, $0.313, and $0.30. The coin is still on a long-term sell signal, despite the current move, and traders shouldn’t enter full positions here.

LTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Litecoin is trading in a very narrow range today, and volatility declined progressively in since the selloff two weeks ago, which will likely lead to a strong momentum move as early as the coming days. A bullish move would be important for the whole segment, as it could point to a developing leadership, with Monero, Stellar, and Dash also being in possibly bullish setups. Primary resistance is ahead at $56, while support is found near $51.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Disclaimer:  The analyst owns cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but doesn’t engage in short-term or day-trading, nor does he hold short positions on any of the coins.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 349 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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