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The risk-off sentiment extended kicking-off a fresh week this Monday, mainly fueled by heightened US-Iran geopolitical tensions, as both sides traded threats following the US killing of a top Iranian Quds commander Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader last Friday. This spillover negatively impacted the US-Iraq relationship that triggered a fresh leg higher in oil prices while gold prices rallied nearly 2% to fresh 6.5-year highs above $1585.

Meanwhile, the Asian equity markets fell from 18-month highs, led by a 2% drop in the Japanese stocks, as full markets returned. The US benchmark 10-year Treasury yields hit monthly lows amid risk-aversion.

Across the fx space, the US dollar traded broadly subdued while the higher-yielding Antipodeans remained under pressure amid weak China’s Services PMI and geopolitical risks. The Canadian dollar, on the other hand, continued to benefit from soaring oil prices. WTI reached fresh eight-month highs above $64 while Brent surpassed the 70 barrier. The safe-havens such as the yen and Swiss franc traded better bid, although USD/JPY appeared to find a floor and recovered the 108 handle, having closed the bearish opening gap.   

Main Topics in Asia

US-Iran updates

Iran vows to enrich uranium “without restrictions”

Macron speaks to Trump, says Iran must not escalate situation – Reuters

Trump: US ‘will quickly & fully strike back,’ perhaps disproportionately, should Iran strike any US person or target

Washington urges Iraqi leaders to take into account importance of economic and military relations – Sky News

UK PM Johnson has backed America’s assassination of a top Iranian general

‘E3’ group of countries called on Iran to refrain from any violent action – Reuters

Trump says there will be a “major retaliation” against Iran if Iran retaliates

Trump, UK’s Johnson discuss situation in Iran, Iraq -White House – Reuters News

Iran Quds Force new Chief: Will fight to completely remove US from region after Soleimani killing

Other key headlines

Gold rallies 2% to fresh highs in risk-off start to the week

BOJ now holds 43.9% of all outstanding government debt

The China Caixin Services Dec PMI: 52.5 vs 53.5 prior

US 10-year yield hits one-month low

BOJ’s Kuroda: BOJ remains on guard against overseas conditions including heightening tension regarding Iran

Official: Bank Indonesia intervenes to stabilize markets

Key Focus Ahead       

We have the first full data-heavy week of 2020 kicking-off, with the immediate focus on the German Retail Sales, due at 0700 GMT while the Euro area final Services PMI reports will start trickling in from 0815 GMT.

The UK final Services PMI will also draw some attention at 0930 GMT alongside the Eurozone Sentix Investor Confidence release for January. These will be soon followed by the Eurozone Producer Price Index (PPI), although this macro news is unlikely to have any major impact on the shared currency.

In the NA session, the main highlight will be the US December Services PMI data due to be published by Markit at 1445 GMT while the second-liner Canadian data will also keep the traders somewhat busy.

Despite the economic releases, the broader market sentiment will remain at the mercy of the developments surrounding the heightening US-Iran geopolitical tensions, as markets await any military response from Iran.

EUR/USD resilient as US yields drop on risk-aversion

EUR/USD is showing resilience around 1.1170 amid broad-based risk aversion.  The US dollar is struggling likely due to the losses in the US treasury yields. Geopolitical tensions are likely to overshadow macro data releases. 

GBP/USD sellers catch a breath ahead of UK Services PMI

GBP/USD stalls two-day losing streak amid the broad USD pullback. Risk-aversion amid US-Iran tensions and catalysts doubting the US monetary policy seem to have played their role. The UK/US Markit Services PMIs will likely offer intermediate directions.

Chart of the week: Oil prices spiking and intent on 2019 highs

Bulls in control due to the conflict in the Middle East between Iran and the US. The daily outlook targets the 2019 highs initially and tougher resistance higher up through 69.60.

Week Ahead – Middle East Tensions, Global Deflationary Pressures, US Jobs Report in focus

Financial markets will now closely follow the tit-for-tat response following the US airstrike in Iraq that killed Iran’s top commander.