There is no opening trade call for the London session with thin trading conditions expected today due to bank holidays. Read through my traditional Monday’s update on the major currencies to prepare for the upcoming trading opportunities.
USD: The greenback remains the strongest currency in the longer term as the market currently expects the Fed to raise rates in late 2015 or early 2016. The FOMC wants to see a further improvement in jobs and be reasonably confident about inflation tracking towards 2% before increasing the fed funds target rate for the first time in nearly a decade. Core PCE y/y for August moved back up to 1.3% after falling to multi-year lows at 1.2% for July. Recent falls in commodity prices and weakening demand from China are causing a lowering of inflation expectations, which has prompted a risk-off mode and a selloff in equity markets. This market turmoil is likely to diminish the Fed’s confidence to raise rates this year. The Fed kept rates on hold as widely expected and struck a relatively dovish tone at the September 17 meeting, mainly in the context of subdued inflation. The Jobs report released on October 2 was a big disappointment as it was the second consecutive sub 150,ooo print (prior revised down from 173K to 136K), and saw zero wage growth. the participation rate also ticked lower to it’s lowest in nearly 40 years showing the labor market is shrinking. Chances of a Fed rate hike in 2015 took a significant hit with a 95% chance of a hold in October, and now a 70% chance of a hold in December.
EUR: The currency remains weak medium term due to the quantitative easing program that is underway and expected to continue for at least another 12-18 months. Inflation and growth readings in recent months have failed to show that the economy is recovering at a reasonable rate. Further, the ECB has downgraded their GDP and CPI forecasts and have highlighted the downside risks to inflation. The ECB maintains its dovish stance which keeps pressure on the euro. ECB members have repeatedly outlined in recent weeks the potential to extend the QE program in needed, to tackle low inflation. This increases bearish sentiment on the euro.
GBP: Sterling is a long-term bullish currency given expectations to raise rates in early-to-mid 2016. The most recent CPI reading showed core prices have increased 1% in 12 months, while all-items prices have not increased at all during that period. The failure of headline CPI to turn negative, or core to drop below 1%, indicates that the BOE’s outlook to raise rates in 2016 will remain in play and sterling should stay supported. Today’s labor market report was mixed for July/August with accelerating wages contrasting with some signs of rising joblessness. Accelerating wages, a better than expected unemployment rate, along with a nearly -2000 revision to last months jobless print saw the GBP rally sharply. The BOE kept rates on hold at 0.5% as was expected, with a vote of 8-1 and McCafferty being the lone dissenter voting for a 25bps increase. MPC stated it is too early to judge impact from China and falls in commodities, but that risks to the outlook from the emerging market slowdown had risen. The MPC also noted that Unit Labor Costs are not yet compatible to return CPI to target.
AUD: Despite solid jobs numbers and inflation close to target, Australia is beginning to feel the effects of lower commodities; recent GDP figures for Q2 missed estimates. Further a slowdown in China – a major importer of Australian minerals – puts negative pressure on the economic outlook. The RBA are on hold with an easing bias. Job figures for August were positive for the AUD and further illustrate the divergence between positive national data but slowing demand for commodity exports. The AUD remains vulnerable to developments out of China, despite the Australian economy running well and the RBA content with current level of interest rates. At the October 6 meeting the RBA kept rates on hold as was expected. The accompanying statement struck a somewhat optimistic tone, citing a moderate expansion in the economy, somewhat stronger growth of employment, and a steady unemployment rate.
NZD: The Kiwi dollar is one of the most bearish currencies at present due to the easing cycle of the RBNZ. The Bank cut rates to 2.75% on September 10 and issued a dovish statement which saw NZD weaken across the board. The NZD is expected to remain under pressure as the market anticipates at least one more cut this year. Westpac forecast NZDUSD at 0.59 by early 2016. GDP for Q2 missed estimates at 0.4%, however this is up from 0.2% growth in Q1. GDT came in at +9.9% on October 6, it’s fourth consecutive positive print. The NZD strengthened immediately following the release, and continued as this could potentially give the RBNZ room to hold at the end of the month, if the uptick in dairy prices support inflation.
CAD: The BOC left rates unchanged on September 9 and released a statement which was less dovish than the market had anticipated. This reduces the bearishness on the currency in the near-term however the price of WTI crude will largely dictate short term movements in the CAD. On September 30 Canadian GDP printed better than expected at 0.3% to achieve its first back to back growth since September-October 2014. There was a downward revision to the previous month to 0.4%, but nevertheless, back to back growth prints will be viewed as positive.
JPY: The yen remains bearish medium term due to QQE. The BOJ have revised down their forecasts for CPI in coming years and their next move may include an adjustment to their inflation goal and stimulus program. CPI and BOJ inflation forecasts should be watched carefully for indications that the current stimulus will be increased. Thus far the BOJ maintains that the 2% target will be met by mid-16. The BOJ kept monetary policy unchanged at the October 7 meeting and refrained from hinting at further easing. Japanese lawmaker Yamamoto stated that the BOJ is worried that more easing would weaken the JPY. Takahide Kiuchi continued to be the lone dissenter, calling for the bank to increase the monetary base at an annual pace of 45 trillion yen.
CHF: The franc is fundamentally a weaker currency given the SNB’s negative interest rates, however it can suddenly rally on safe-haven flows. The SNB regularly recite that the franc is overvalued and they are prepared to intervene to weaken the currency.
Source:: Currency Update 12th of October