• Positive surprise in US retail sales could trigger equity gains.

  • More support measures still needed for US economy.

  • Soft spots remain in China’s recovery.

  • US-China trade talks, US stimulus developments may sway Gold prices.

Global investors have been reluctant so far to send benchmark stock indices to new record highs since the global pandemic, despite coming tantalisingly close. Asian stocks are now mixed, with regional indices pulling the MSCI Asia Pacific index further away from its January 20th closing level, despite yesterday coming within less than four points of that record high.

However, the S&P 500 could have another shot at posting its highest ever close today with US stock futures in the green at the time of writing. It could all come down to the July US retail sales data release later today.

Considering that the figures from May and June beat market consensus, a third consecutive positive surprise might just get the S&P 500 over the line in setting a new record high. Given the US economy’s reliance on domestic consumption, retail sales must demonstrate a sustainable recovery in order to spur risk sentiment onto greater heights and further embolden equity bulls.

US economic data  have been surprising to the upside of late, the most recent example being Thursday’s weekly jobless claims which fell below the one million mark for the first time since March. Still, looking at the broader picture, these jobless figures remain very elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels, which necessitates additional economic support from policymakers. The positive data could prove fleeting if major countries cannot get a firm grip on the pandemic or if policymakers pull back on their respective support measures too soon, while noting that the road ahead still holds downside risks for the global economy.


Chinese economy still finding its footing

China’s economy continues to take strides into the post-pandemic era, even if some soft spots remain. July’s industrial production grew 4.8 percent year-on-year matching June’s expansion rate, while retail sales disappointed markets as they contracted by 1.1 percent compared to the same month in the year prior. Property investments last month posted a better-than-expected reading of 3.4 percent year-on-year.

As China continues to lead the way past the pandemic, so this bolsters hopes that the global recovery can stay the course and justify the stellar gains in stock markets since March.


US-China talks, US stimulus in focus

Global investors will also be on the lookout for how the US-China trade talks unfold over the coming days, as both economic powerhouses check in with each other regarding their phase-one trade deal. At the same time, markets will be keeping an eye on whether the stalemate surrounding the next round of US fiscal stimulus can be broken, even though the better-than-expected readings on the US economy could buy Congress more time.

Still, should either of these events take a negative turn, traders may upend attempts to register new record equity highs, while paving the way for Gold to rebound back above the $2000 mark.

Disclaimer:This written/visual material is comprised of personal opinions and ideas. The content should not be construed as containing any type of investment advice and/or a solicitation for any transactions. It does not imply an obligation to purchase investment services, nor does it guarantee or predict future performance. FXTM, its affiliates, agents, directors, officers or employees do not guarantee the accuracy, validity, timeliness or completeness of any information or data made available and assume no liability for any loss arising from any investment based on the same.

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