Tag Archives: Eurozone

Punch Bag Sterling

Unemployment figures released this morning showed that the UK ILO Unemployment Rate rose marginally to 7.8% from 7.7%, whilst the UK Claimant Count Change improved to -12.5K for the third month in a row. However, this slight glimmer of hope that the UK economy may actually be starting to show signs of recovery, offered little help to the Pound this morning which has taken somewhat of a battering following the release of the BoE minutes.

Sterling plummeted at 9:30 GMT against both the Euro and the Dollar, following the release of BoE minutes which confirmed that three of the nine MPC members favoured an increase in stimulus at this month’s policy meeting. Paul Fisher, David Miles and BoE Governor, Sir Mervyn King were the members who were voted down, though this does suggests that the committee is potentially warming to the idea of additional stimulus in order to help revive the economy. This is something we may well see in the coming months which, whilst potentially helping the economy, certainly wouldn’t do the Pound any favours.

GBP/EUR dropped over a cent in the space of twenty minutes after the BoE minutes were released, before levelling out to its current trading level of 1.1430. Cable faired similarly, as the pair dropped from 1.5439 to a daily low of 1.5294 in less than an hour, and is currently trading at 1.5308. The GBP/EUR charts aren’t looking too favourable for the Pound either and the general outlook is rather bearish for Sterling at the moment. However, the Euro Zone has by no means ‘recovered’ and with elections in Italy coming up and rumblings from a number of European leaders that the Euro is far too high at present (potential for EU interest rate cuts), it would appear that there remains significant scope for GBP/EUR to recover at some point, the question is when.

On Your Marks, Get Set, Manipulate

The G20 followed a similar line over the weekend to the one that was adopted by the G7 earlier last week, as finance ministers of the world’s largest economies commented in a joint statement: “We will refrain from competitive devaluation. We will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes”. The fact that the statement was of a rather generic nature, and importantly didn’t specifically refer to Japan, has effectively given Japan the green light to continue its unofficial policy of Yen depreciation, and has potentially opened the door for other countries to follow suit. This lead to the Yen dropping against the Dollar yet again this morning as USD/JPY hit 94.21, nearing the low it reached on February 11th of 94.46, its lowest level in over two and half years.

Some ministers have begun to comment on the potential for ‘currency wars’ in recent weeks as countries actively pursue a weaker currency. However, Japan has reaffirmed today that its monetary easing policies are specifically targeted at ending deflation rather than purposefully trying to devalue the Yen in order to improve the countries global competitiveness, though currency devaluation coincidentally will be an inevitable side effect of such policies. However leading economist, and Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman, notes that the currency war issue is “a misconception and it would be a very bad thing if policy makers take it seriously”, and that “the stuff that’s now being called “currency wars” is almost surely a net plus for the world economy”.

Sterling is not fairing any better this morning following the G20 meeting as GBP/EUR is currently trading at 1.1585, having slightly rebounded from a daily low of 1.1562. Similarly Cable has also rebounded from a seven month low of 1.5437 this morning and is currently trading at 1.5470. Whilst the Pounds decline has made imports more expensive over the last month, BoE Monetary Policy Committee member Martin Weale commented last week that the weakening Pound would help improve Britain’s export prospects.

It is Presidents day in the US today, a Public holiday which means trading volumes will be lower and the economic calendar if rather light. However, this afternoon ECB president Mario Draghi will be making a speech. Market participants will be keen to see whether Mr Draghi will make any reference to a potential future interest rate cut. Such a move, which could well happen within the next few months as looser monetary policies have now seemingly been tacitly warranted by the G20, would help Sterling recover some of its recent losses against the common currency.

Mark Webster

Who are EU, Who are EU

Sterling has recovered some of its losses against the Euro this morning following weak GDP data released across Europe. After initially trading flat, GBP/EUR began its ascent following the release of German GDP DATA at 7:00 GMT which confirmed the German economy had contracted by -0.6%. The pair spiked to 1.1590 immediately following the release, before continuing its climb to a daily high of 1.1646. This now puts the pair within sight of a potential target level of 1.1722, a price range where there is substantial resistance.

EU GDP figures were not any prettier either this morning, as the Eurozone recorded a GDP contraction of -0.6% also. This data also helped add further impetus to the Pounds advance against the common currency. The European GDP data hurt the Euro right across the board this morning, with EUR/USD having dropped over a cent in the space of three hours, falling to a daily low of 1.3318.
Attention is now likely to turn to the US session this afternoon where we will see the release of US jobless claims figures. Whilst EUR/USD has been trading consistently downwards this morning, contrastingly we have seen sporadic movements in cable as the pair has been pulled following the economic data from Europe. That said, sentiment towards the pair still remains bearish with 1.5268 remaining a key target level, which should it be tested, could signal a significant downtrend.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, UK Retail Sales figures are due out at 9:30 GMT and are expected to improve from the previous month, potentially aiding the Pound in recouping some of its recent losses. However, make no mistake that the focus tomorrow will well and truly be placed on the G20 meeting, which is set to be a rather contentious affair. The threat of global foreign exchange war is likely to be top of the agenda, with Japans monetary policies likely to feature heavily also. Due to this, Japan may have actually welcomed the data today that showed it remained stuck in recession last quarter, adding to Japanese officials arsenals further ahead of the G20 showdown tomorrow.

Mark Webster

Sterling update

Sterling has had a pretty dismal start to the day this morning having had a simultaneous drop off against the Euro and the Greenback at 8:30am, with both pairs losing over half a cent in little over half an hour. Sterling has since levelled off and is currently holding against the Euro at 1.1637 and 1.5585 against the Dollar.

Earlier this morning we had UK housing data released by RICS which showed the Housing Price Balance dropped to -4% in January. Further UK data has just been released and isn’t too favourable either, with the UK Consumer Price Index remaining stagnant at 2.7%, and the Core Consumer Price Index falling marginally to 2.3% last month, down from 2.4%. The UK Producer Price Index met market consensus at 2.0% whilst UK PPI Core Output fell to 1.4% in January, capping off yet more negative data for the UK, something which seems to have become the norm since the turn of the year.
Sterling has continued to suffer on the back of consistently weak UK data and improved sentiment within the Euro Zone. Going forward the outlook doesn’t look any more promising for Sterling either. Long term charts for both GBP/USD and GBP/EUR indicate that risk is still to the downside with key resistance levels being potentially targeted at 1.5278 and 1.1223 respectively.

However, Sterling could well rebound should sentiment towards the Euro Zone begin to change, especially following the Pounds such severe and rapid losses over the last few weeks. With GDP figures due out across Europe on Thursday and Italian Prime Minister Elections drawing ever closer, potential for a decrease in the Euro remains significant. Furthermore, after the recent 18 month highs for the Euro against the Pound and the Dollar, the grumbles of European leaders with regards to the common currency’s current strength are becoming louder. This issue is also likely to be mentioned by ECB President Mario Draghi in his Speech today, which could well have an impact on GBP/EUR trading this afternoon.

Mark Webster

Stick or Twist

The Euro is slightly down this morning as remnants of the political scandal that emerged in Spain last month continue to linger. Allegations published in Spanish Newspaper El Pais last month, suggested that from 1997 onwards, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy received regular payments of €25,000 that were hidden from tax authorities. Although these are, at present, only allegations, the mere suggestion of such conduct is enough to worry markets. Should these allegations be proved to be true then we could see sentiment towards Spanish assets turn considerably negative, which would inevitably hurt the Euro.

Additional uncertainty is also likely to grow within the Eurozone as we approach the Italian elections at the end of this month, especially should the gap close further between front runner Pier Luigi Bersani and Berlusconi’s PDL party. This uncertainty is likely to have contributed to the tapered advance of the Euro this week, as its unrelenting strengthening seems to have now been somewhat restricted. The Euro has dropped off against both Sterling and the Greenback this morning, with the Pound having risen by nearly half a cent so far today against the Euro, and the pair is currently trading at 1.1575. The Euro has similarly dropped off against the Dollar, falling to a daily low of 1.3513 this morning, before holding, and slightly recovering to its current level of 1.3530.

Markets are likely to be trading relatively flat this afternoon with little economic data due out and only UK House Price data having been released this morning, showing prices declined in January. However the main driver behind decreased volatility today is likely to be the fact that market participants are holding their current positions ahead of the ECB and BOE interest rate decisions due to be made tomorrow afternoon. Whilst both rates are expected to remain unchanged, should there be any adjustment, this could well provoke substantial movement in the Pound or the Euro.
In yesterday’s blog we recalled comments made by Luxembourg Prime Minister last month that the Euro was then already ‘dangerously high’. It would appear that such concerns are growing throughout the Euro Zone regarding the current strength of the Euro. French President Francois Hollande commented yesterday that “the Eurozone must, through its heads of state and government, decide on a medium-term exchange rate”. It is likely that Mario Draghi will face questions regarding this issue at the ECB press conference tomorrow and any suggestion of controls being placed on the Euro could weaken the currency considerably.

Mark Webster

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Markets are relatively flat this morning as participants wait and see what will be the outcome of two major pieces of economic data due out this afternoon. First we will see the Bank of England release its decision at 12:00 GMT on whether or not to alter interest rates or their asset purchase program. Whilst both of these are expected to remain as they are, market participants look keen to wait until these decisions are confirmed before taking a position within the markets.

A little later this afternoon we will see an ECB Monetary Policy Statement and press conference at 13:30 GMT. As in the UK, the ECB are expected to keep interest rates on hold at their record low of 0.75%. Whilst the Eurozone appears to have been stabilizing recently, there has however been no spectacular data release to suggest that a rate change at present would be warranted.

Elsewhere today we have seen commodity currencies react favourably to the positive data released in China this morning. Figures show that the Chinese Trade Balance rose substantially in December, reaching 31.6B for the month, well above market expectations of 19.7B. The Australian Dollar rose to its highest point against the Japanese Yen in four years following the data release, and is currently trading at AUD/JPY 93.23. The Aussie Dollar was also aided by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has called for the Bank of Japan to raise inflation targets to 2%, weakening the Yen right across the board.

Mark Webster

I Got the Power

The European Central Bank has got the power. It has got the power to supervise. EU finance ministers, in the early hours of this morning, agreed to appoint the ECB as Europe’s single, all-encompassing, banking supervisor. The new supervisory body is scheduled to become fully operational by early 2014 and will be responsible for the oversight of approximately two hundred of the biggest banks in Europe, as well as smaller institutions where necessary.

The rhetoric coming out of Europe following this agreement has been pretty positive, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented: “The importance of the deal cannot be assessed too highly”. Considering the relatively turbulent year the Euro zone has experienced, and the criticism European leaders have received over their perceived lack of action and inability to compromise, today’s agreement is quite a scalp for EU leaders and it is hoped this could be a pivotal turning point in dealing with the region’s economic woes.

However, we have seen seemingly positive decisions reached before, only for deals to fall through due to an inability of EU leaders to deliver. Cleary now, cementing the legal framework for this body and ensuring its implementation, after what could be described as a slightly rushed agreement, is vital. Following this agreement, the path has now been paved for Eurozone finance ministers to be provided with the option of using the European Stability Mechanism (Eurozone bailout fund) to recapitalise banks directly, rather than through individual countries lending institutions as is currently the case, provided a unanimous request is made to the ECB to assume direct oversight of the institution.

Across the pond yesterday, as we expected, the Fed decided to keep US interest rates at 0.25%, however what was not expected was the Feds decision to confirm that any future rate movement would now be linked to economic indicators. Current interest rates are now set to remain as they are until unemployment falls to 6.5%, provided that inflation is not projected to rise above 2.5%.

Markets are relatively flat this morning, with only a small amount of movement in the Euro following the key deal reached regarding the ECB’s new supervisory role. GBP/EUR continues to trade sideways as it has been doing for last 3 months or so now. Sterling is currently at 1.2341 against the Euro, with hour charts suggesting that we could see a potential rise back to a key level of resistance at 1.2375 today. However, as markets continue to digest the news regarding the ECB, should sentiment towards Europe turn positive and the Euro strengthen, we could see GBP/EUR drop back to 1.2273.

With little economic data out this morning, the key focus for market participants today will come this afternoon as key economic data is released in the US. US Retail Sales and Producer Price Index figures will be released at 13:30 GMT and could be a catalyst for some movement in the Greenback, however any major movement over the next few weeks is very likely to be linked to news regarding the progress of fiscal cliff talks. After pushing up to a high of 1.6171 yesterday, GBP/USD has fallen back to, and is currently trading at, the key level of resistance that we discussed yesterday of 1.6124. Another break above this level today would be significantly bullish for GBP/USD.

Mark Webster

BoE and ECB

The Euro has retreated today after the European Central Bank kept rates unchanged at 0.75% and slashed its growth forecasts for 2013. Projected Eurozone growth is now expected to range between -0.9% and +0.3% suggesting that it is more than likely that the Eurozone economy will contract next year.

In the UK, the Bank of England as expected kept interest rates at 0.50% and the Bank’s Quantitative Easing Asset Purchase Programme was also maintained at £375bn.

As a result the Pound is up against the Euro by nearly 1 cent and currently trades at 1.2395 (0.8068) and the Euro is down 1 cent against the US Dollar at 1.2980. The Pound trades relatively flat against the US Dollar currently at 1.6090 on the interbank market.

Matthew Porter 15:15 06/12/12

Go Euro, Go

Today we will see European Finance ministers meet once again to further sure up the current deal regarding Greece. Discussion is likely to focus on the proposed supervisory role for the European Central Bank. Whilst in theory the majority of European finance ministers would be in favour of such a position, it is when it comes to the ironing out of the fine details that there is the potential for disagreement. Notably, leaders of countries outside of the Eurozone have expressed concern that they could be treated as second tier members of the new supervisor, a situation that would clearly be untenable.

Despite the meetings taking place in Europe today and across the pond regarding the fiscal cliff, the Euro has continued to strengthen against Sterling and the Dollar on the back of the Greek debt agreement reached last week. The Euro has risen against both the Pound and Dollar today, with EUR/GBP hitting 0.8128 (GBP/EUR 1.23) and EUR/USD rising to 1.3107. Sterling has also risen against the Dollar today, hitting the key level of resistance at 1.6124 that was mentioned in yesterday’s blog. Cable is continuing to test this level and should it breakthrough, we could well see 1.63 targeted next, however substantial movement will be dependent on the progress of talks regarding the fiscal cliff.

Elsewhere the Reserve Bank of Australia has cut interest rates for the second time in three months. Interest rates have been cut to 3%, equal to the half century low set in 2009, as the Australian economy continues to battle with falling commodity prices and a strong currency. Despite the interest rate drop early this morning, the Aussie Dollar has fared well, buoyed by the positive Chinese data released yesterday and also potentially because of the fact that some market participants felt the rate could have been cut even further. GBP/AUD is currently trading at a daily low of 1.5373.

Mark Webster

Increased Optimism

The Dollar has weakened against the majority of its counterparts this morning following increased optimism regarding the Eurozone after a debt agreement concerning Greece was reached in Europe last week. Whilst some market analysts argue that the current deal is insufficient, this agreement has at the very least sent a message to global markets that Europe will not let Greece fail, and it will remain in the Eurozone. This has led to rising indices across Europe, most notably the Athens Composite, which is up 9% over the last two months. Additionally, this morning Angela Merkel has, for the first time ever, indicated that Germany may accept a write off of Greek debt. This could be a very significant step in creating the first truly viable path for Greece to escape the black hole that it is currently in, however the key word here is; ‘may’.

Furthermore, China has posted positive manufacturing figures this morning. The Chinese HSBC Manufacturing PMI hit 50.5 this month, increasing ever so slightly from 50.4 last month. This has consequently, along with the European factors above, increased risk appetite among investors and has resulted in market participants selling off their ‘safe haven’ Dollar holdings in search of riskier assets.

This afternoon we have manufacturing data and PMI figures coming out of the US, should they be positive we could see the Dollar strengthen slightly, however the main focus for Dollar movement this month will be the ever approaching the fiscal cliff. Should little progress be made on this issue and the January 1st deadline look increasingly doubtful, we could see the Dollar strengthen substantially.

Sterling is up today against both the Euro and the Dollar following positive UK manufacturing data. The UK Markit Manufacturing PMI hit 49.1 this morning, not only increasing from last month but also beating market expectations of 48.0. Following the release of the figures at 09:28 this morning, Sterling has risen to a daily high of 1.2325 against the Euro and GBP/USD has broken through a downward trend hitting an interbank high of 1.6086 before falling back a little. The current rate is hovering around 1.6067, should the rate push above this we could see 1.6124 targeted. Should the dollar not break through this level, the rate may well fall back towards 1.60.

Please find a summary of this week’s economic calendar below:

03.12.12
Eurogroup Meeting
01:45 Chinese HSBC Manufacturing PMI
08:53 German Markit Manufacturing PMI
09:28 UK Markit Manufacturing PMI
13:58 US Markit Manufacturing PMI
15:00 US Construction Spending
15:00 US ISM Manufacturing PMI

04.12.12
European Finance Ministers Meeting
03:30 Australian RBA Interest Rate Decision
09:30 UK PMI Construction
10:00 EU Producer Price Index
14:00 Bank of Canada Interest Rate Dec ision

05.12.12
08:53 German Markit Services PMI
08:58 EU Markit Services PMI
09:28UK Markit Services PMI
10:00 EU Retail Sales
13:15 US ADP Employment Change
15:00 US Factory Orders
15:00 US ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI

06.11.12
09:30 UK Total Trade Balance
10:00 EU GDP
11:00 German Factory Orders
12:00 UK BOE Interest Rate Decision
12:45 EU ECB Interest Rate Decision

07.12.12
00:01 RICS Housing Price Balance
09:30 UK Industrial Production
09:30 UK Manufacturing Production
11:00 German Industrial Production
13:30 US Average Hourly Earnings
13:30 US Nonfarm Payrolls
13:30 US Unemployment Rate

Mark Webster