The financial market is relatively similar to the traditional open air market where demand and supply are the key drivers of the pricing. For instance, the price of a stock or commodity will go up if there is increased demand.
A good example in the markets is on the crude oil prices which are growing or falling as supply from OPEC and non-OPEC countries increase.
However, above the micro data, the macro environment plays a very significant role in determining the trading environment.
As a trader, you should always understand the macro-economic information of any asset you go long or short on.
Why the macro matters
Macroeconomics refers to large-scale events that have an impact on the economy. It simply represents the broader picture of the economy.
If the country’s economy is on the rise, it means that people and companies are performing well financially which increases their purchasing power. If on the other hand the economy is sinking, it means that various sectors will be affected.
The most important macro factors are based on monetary policy and fiscal policy. Monetary policies are activities that central banks do like interest rates and quantitative easing.
Therefore, when looking at macro factors, you should look at economic data like unemployment rates, manufacturing and services PMIs, and retail sales.
Fiscal policy, on the other hand, relates to the actions of the government such as budgets and fiscal spending. In this case, you should look at macro factors like budget deficits and trade policies.
Therefore, all these macro factors matter to all financial assets like stocks, currencies, and commodities. For example, high-interest rates in the US tend to lead to a stronger dollar and weaker stocks.
Macroeconomic vs microeconomics
A common question is on the difference between micro and macro. As mentioned, macroeconomics refer to broader activities in an economy.
Micro, on the other hand, refers to smaller – but equally important – factors that affect the performance of companies and the economy. They include regulations, supply and demand, and taxes.
Do day traders need macroeconomic analysis?
Unlike long-term investors, day traders don’t necessarily need macro analysis since they focus mostly on technical analysis.
However, it is always good to look at the economic calendar to see the upcoming events. For example, important data like jobs and inflation will always impact key assets.
As a trader, it is very important to stay abreast with the economic data of the assets you want to own. For instance, if you specialize in commodity trading, it is important for you to understand the macro information of countries that influence the demand and supply of gold (if you want to focus on this).
The same applies to currencies, bonds, indices, and stocks. For instance, if China is the largest customer of oil and their economy crumbles, the prices will come down so that Chinese people can afford the commodity.
The most important economic indicators include:
- The Gross National Product (GNP) which measures the overall performance of the economy;
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which measures the total goods produced in a country by domestic and foreign companies;
- Consumer spending which measures the level at which the public is spending versus saving;
- Investment and government spending
If all these metrics are positive, then this is an indication that the economy is doing well.
Industrial sector indicators
These indicators are important because they show the total output of a country’s plants, utilities, and mines which are significant in calculating the economic growth of a country.
To a large extent, it determines the strength or weaknesses of a currency. For instance, the United States is a net exporter which has helped improve the strength of the dollar against all currencies.
Capacity utilization is a relatively important metric in the industrial sector indicators. It is established by dividing the total industrial output and the total production capability. A normal figure of capacity utilization is 81.5%. A figure above 85% shows that the economy is close to full capacity which precedes inflation.
Other industrial sector indicators are: factory orders, durable goods orders, and business inventories.
In the financial market, inflation is a key indicator of how the economy is doing. In an environment of low interest rates, the purchasing power of people and companies is increased thus pushing high the inflation rate. A higher inflation rate leads to the tightening of the monetary policy.
The key indicators to look up to are the: producer price index (PPI) which is compiled from the sectors that make up the economy; the consumer price index which measures the change in price of a fixed basket of shopping items people buy every day; Gross national product implicit deflator and the Gross domestic product implicit deflator.
The goal of the government is to create an environment where all people are employed or actively involved in boosting productivity.
The two most important macro indicators in this regard are the non-farm payrolls, employment rate, and the unemployment rate. An increase in the non-farm payrolls indicates an improving economy which will lead to the strengthening of the currency, equities, and commodities.
Economic data is not the only macro issue traders need to look at. The geopolitical environment is very critical for the markets. A good example is on the Ukraine and Russia situation where Russia has continually worked to destabilize Ukraine. Before declaring war against them.
As a result of the crisis, countries such as the United States which enjoyed a good relationship with Russia reacted by putting in sanctions thus affecting the trade between the two countries. Therefore, American countries that depend on Russia such as McDonalds have continued to suffer decline in sales.
As a day trader or long term investor, these numbers need to be at your fingertips on a daily basis. The economic calendar is your best friend which you should always look on a daily basis as you crunch the numbers. It will help you determine when to stay on the side-lines or stay in the trade.
How to analyze the macro environment
One of the best ways of analyzing the macro environment of a country is to conduct a PESTLE analysis. These key factors are:
- Political – This is where you look at the political situation in an economy. Some of the things to look at are elections and the nature of political activity.
- Economic – This is where you look at the state of the economy. A quick look at the above indicators will help you out.
- Social – There are many social factors to look at such as harmony in a country, population, and demographics.
- Technological – This refers to how advanced a country is technological. Some of the top technical things to look at are telecoms and internet connectivity.
- Legal – This is where you look at the legal state of the country. Things to look at are access to the justice system and the rule of law.
- Environmental – This is where you look at key environmental factors like natural disasters and pollution.
External useful resources
- Can the Macro Theme be an Edge for Day Traders? – Convergent Trading