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An ‘abundance of angst’ has thrown up a real trading opportunity, SocGen strategist says

Stocks have struggled for direction at the start of the current quarter and U.S. Treasury yields have dipped Tuesday, leading one strategist to suggest nervous sentiment is "everywhere".

NYSE Trader on the floor
Brendan McDermid | Retuers
NYSE Trader on the floor

The 10-year Treasury yield, which moves inversely to the bond price, is down two basis points to 2.33 per cent, at levels not seen for five weeks. Moves into so-called safe havens are seen as indicative of a wider "risk-off" trade by global investors.

"There's an abundance of angst this morning, stemming from weak U.S. car data, the explosion in the St. Petersburg subway, the prospect of (President) Donald Trump meeting (Chinese Premier) Xi Jinping at the end of the week and the rapidly approaching French election," said Kit Juckes, a foreign-exchange strategist at Société Générale, in a note Tuesday.

Juckes argued that the second quarter's asset performance will rely on robust economic data from the United States.

"The mood…has taken bond yields, equity and commodity prices lower to kick off (the second quarter) … The only cure is a steadying hand from U.S. data that will put a floor under bond yields and, given how low that floor is, send money off in search of yield again," he said.

"But for now, angst everywhere," he concluded.

The U.S. February trade balance is due at 08:30 a.m. ET followed an hour-and-a-half later by durable goods orders for the same month.

European jitters

Juckes also highlighted the French election as giving investors pause for thought, despite polls suggesting a win for centrist Emmanuel Macron. He said increased spreads of Italian and French debt against the German bund reveal some apprehension remains that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen could still win.

However, Juckes said this could mean a trading opportunity based around buying the euro. "The temptation is to think that French pre-election nerves are just that, and the opinion polls can't be THAT wrong," said.

"On that basis, these would be good levels to buy EUR/USD and also, EUR/GBP," he added.