January 8, 2020
An Iranian rocket attack on U.S. forces based in Iraq has sent markets into turmoil and investors racing for safety. Here are analyst views on the market moves:
ANTHONY CHAN, CHIEF ASIA INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, UNION BANCAIRE PRIVEE, HONG KONG
“The market is basically waiting to see if this is it, or if there will be more retaliation from Iran.
“Investors hate uncertainty. If there really is a war the outlook would actually be clearer. At the moment, the uncertainty is overshadowing performance.”
MASAYUKI KICHIKAWA, CHIEF MACRO STRATEGIST, SUMITOMO MITSUI ASSET MANAGEMENT CO, TOKYO
“Trump is doing this for the U.S. presidential election but seems to have made some miscalculations. Iran also miscalculated its response when paramilitary forces linked to Iran surrounded the U.S. embassy. Iran is already in bad shape because of U.S. economic sanctions and does not have the military capability to defeat the United States in a direct war.
“Both sides have incentives to control this situation after a few rounds of retaliation, but this depends on how much damage there is to Iraqi oil production capacity, what happens between Iran and Israel and the scale of human casualties. Hopefully in two to three weeks there could be some efforts from both sides to at least contain the situation.”
GEORGE KANAAN, HEAD OF AUSTRALIAN SALES, UBS, SYDNEY
“In the short term, the market will shrug it off. However it will be closely monitoring any further developments. Any future actions by either side will be taken much more seriously.”
ASHLEY GLOVER, HEAD OF SALES TRADING FOR APAC AND CANADA, CMC MARKETS, SYDNEY “What we are seeing at the moment is a big risk off move. We have seen spikes in gold, in oil, the vix index and a big downturn in equities.
“We are looking out for whether the U.S. is going to retaliate so it’s going to be a big wait-and-see mode until we hear from Trump. And as a result, U.S. futures are off the lows now. We are seeing that ‘buy the dip’ mentality creeping in as big long-term investors like to buy into these weaknesses.”
HIDESHI MATSUNAGA, ANALYST, SUNWARD TRADING, TOKYO
“It’s getting really serious…but there is a feeling of achievement in terms of technical charts as Brent has surged to above $70/barrel and near a high in September, 2019 after attacks on Saudi Arabian oil sites.
“We have to see how much and what damage the latest attacks have caused, but oil markets may come down, just like last September, if we can confirm that oil facilities have not been affected and as both U.S. and Iran don’t want a war.”
ROB CARNELL, ASIA-PACIFIC CHIEF ECONOMIST, ING, SINGAPORE
“It’s a very classic risk off, and I guess the question is how far do you push it, and I’d say keep going.
“This is the Iranian response to the killing of Soleimani. We now have to see what the U.S. response to the Iranian response is. This looks as if it could escalate.
“If you see U.S. Treasuries rallying a bit this morning, expect them to rally quite a bit further should there be a forceful response from the United States, which I’d imagine there would be…from a market perspective I think this one could run and run.”
RAY ATTRILL, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK, SYDNEY
“The threat of retaliation the market was worried about last week looks to have become real so there is no other way for markets to go really other than to go to safe havens.
“The presumption was that U.S. President Donald Trump wouldn’t want to start a war this side of election but that presumption would potentially be tested.”
JAMES ROSENBERG, FINANCIAL ADVISER, BAILLIEU HOLST
“I think it’ll have a small negative reaction initially – mainly due to stretched price-to-earnings ratios which exist right now, markets have been very much risk-off. The bigger picture will be how the U.S. responds and whether it all escalates. It’s too early to tell so some smallish early selling to reduce risk would be my assessment.”
MIKE O’ROURKE, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, JONES TRADING
“It is important to note that President Trump was very clear that the U.S. would deliver a heavy-handed response to any Iranian retaliation. Thus, futures should not only be reacting to the Iranian attack, but also to the clear escalation that will be the impending U.S. escalation.”
MATT SIMPSON, MARKET ANALYST, GAIN CAPITAL, SINGAPORE
“You can pretty much get the sentiment from gold. It is holding above $1,600. If there is confirmation that there are U.S. casualties, it could go higher.
“If it does look like we’ve got U.S. casualties, then I don’t think Trump is going to just stand back and take that…World War III has been thrown around. I don’t think we’re there yet. But it does look like Iraq II.”