Tag Archives: US

Judgement Day Wednesday

Tomorrow evening we will see potentially the most crucial Federal Reserve Interest Rate Decision and FOMC statement of this year. Whilst the Federal Reserve is widely expected to maintain interest rates at their current levels, speculation has grown in recent months that they will make their first reduction to their unprecedented bond buying program this month. ‘Tapering’ has been the buzz word for the last month or two ever since Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted this summer that the Fed would begin to taper its current $85 billion per month bond buying program before the end of the year.

As the state of the US economy has gradually improved over the course of this year and US unemployment figures have closed in on the Fed’s 7% target (disregarding this month’s miserable Nonfarm payrolls), expectations have grown that September will be the month that tapering will begin. The majority of market commentators had been expecting a gradual reduction to begin this month at around the $10-$15 billion mark, however with the very poor Nonfarm payrolls released earlier this month it remains plausible that the Fed will hold firm and maintain their current purchasing levels for yet another month.

Given the amount of speculation that has been afforded to this meeting we can expect to see a substantial amount of volatility surrounding the greenback in the run up to and following the release of the Federal Reserve’s decision. Should the Fed decide to maintain their current level of stimulus we could see cable advance further on its gains this week with a potential test of 1.60 upwards. A reduction of $10-$15 billion would likely hold GBP/USD steady with limited downside risk for sterling following the consistently positive data that has been released recently concerning the UK economy – enough to even suggest that we have “turned the corner” according to George Osborne. Whilst a reduction of $20 billion upwards would likely lead to significant Dollar strengthening right across the board and could see cable par its recent gains whilst 1.56 levels would likely hold off any reversal.

Tomorrow we will also see another interest rate decision however the outcome of which is considered a lot more certain and its impact far less wide-reaching. The Bank of England will release their interest rate decision and minute’s tomorrow morning at 09:30 UK time. BoE Interest rates and stimulus levels are expected to remain unchanged following the Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s comments to a Parliament Select Committee last week where he indicated that the BoE will maintain historically low interest rates for as long as necessary.

GBP/EUR is currently trading close to the 1.19 level, its highest level since the turn of 2013, with a consistent break above 1.1950 potentially signalling a return to levels above 1.20. However, until the outcome of the German Federal Elections later this month, which now seems a forgone conclusion in favour of Chancellor Angela Merkel, movement in GBP/EUR is likely to be limited. Once the German election has finally been decided we may well see a re-emergence of the Euro-Crisis that has notably been shunned from media attention in the run up to elections. A return to Euro-zone bailouts and a seemingly imminent collapse of the euro will only help push sterling back up to 2012 levels against the common currency.

UK Inflation Falls and Takes Pound With it

As expected this morning UK inflation figures fell, even lower than what the markets had been expecting. UK Consumer Price Index fell to 2.4%, down from 2.8% the previous month and below market expectations of 2.6%. UK Core Consumer price index was also down 40 basis points to 2.0%, recording a figure below market expectations of 2.3%. UK Producer Price Index and UK PPI Core Output were also down at 1.1% and 0.8% respectively.

In what was a rather busy morning in terms of UK data releases, nearly every piece of economic data released concerning the UK economy was negative. As would be expected Sterling fell right across the board following these inflation figures’ release. GBP/EUR fell to a daily low of 1.1777 however remained within the approximate 1.5 cent range that the pair has been trading within for the last month. Similarly Cable fell to a daily low of 1.5163, continuing the pairs decline since early May with a further test of the 1.5157 level now likely and should this break the next area of substantial support being found at 1.5127.

Much earlier this morning we saw the Japanese Yen return to its depreciating ways following Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari’s much more coy response regarding the potential end to the Yen’s slide against the Dollar. This comes after the Yen strengthened yesterday following the economy minister’s comment that suggested further weakening of the Yen may adversely impact upon Japanese people. The bank of Japan’s record monetary stimulus program would now appear to be having the desired effect that Japanese finance ministers had initially hoped it would. Figures released in Tokyo last week showed that Japanese GDP rose to an annualized 3.5%, suggesting that the Bank of Japan’s efforts to end a decade of inflation are actually having a positive impact on the economy. This increase in money supply has had the inevitable, yet “unintentional”, effect of depreciating the Yen, which rose to above USD/JPY 100.00 two weeks ago for the first time in over four years, and has consequently lead to a boost in exports. Data released so far suggests that BoJ Governor Haruhik Kuroda may actually be able to reach his ambitious target of reaching 2.0% inflation in just two years. USD/JPY is currently trading at 102.68 and speculation will now grow as to whether the pair will reach 105.00.

With very little data due out this afternoon, trader’s attention is likely to turn to tomorrow where we will see a number of key releases. In the early hours of tomorrow morning the Bank of Japan is set to make their interest rate decision and monetary policy statement, potentially giving the market an indication of how long their extremely loose monetary policy will continue. Moving back westwards, later tomorrow morning UK BoE minutes will be released, followed by the US FOMC minutes tomorrow evening. As Sir Mervyn King comes to the end of his tenure as governor of the BoE, it is unlikely that we will see any drastic information released in the BoE minutes, however the market will be keen to see if the FOMC minutes or Fed Governor Ben Bernanke’s press conference give any indication as to when a reduction in the Federal Reserve’s bond buying program will be brought to an end.

When Will It End?

Surprisingly there is a reasonable amount of economic data due out today despite it being a bank holiday in many European countries. Inevitably this has turned the focus to the UK and US where we will see PMI figures from both sides of the pond today, as well as an interest rate decision and a potentially revealing FED press conference in the US this evening.

With the recent economic data coming out of the US being somewhat negative, market participants will be keen to see whether the US ISM manufacturing PMI is able to surpass expectations of a fall to 50.9 in April. Following this PMI data, this evening we will see a US interest rate decision and crucially the Fed’s monetary policy statement. Whilst interest rates are widely expected to remain at their current level of 0.25%, spectators will be keen to find out whether the FED gives any indication as to when and how speedily they may begin to reduce their bond buying program. Speculation is growing that the FED could well begin to curtail QE before the end of the year however policy makers will be keen to ensure that any reduction in monetary easing does not result in the weakening of an already fragile economy.

The UK Markit Manufacturing PMI figure was released this morning at 49.8, beating market expectations of 48.5, following which sterling immediately spiked to a daily high of 1.1819 against the euro before dropping back. Similarly cable spiked to a daily high of 1.5590 before returning to its current level of 1.5570. Following these spikes in volatility we may well now see markets trade sideways until this afternoon when the release of US PMI figures may induce further market activity.

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

01.05.13
02:00 Chinese NBS Manufacturing PMI
07:00 UK Nationwide Housing Prices
09:28 UK Markit Manufacturing PMI
15:00 US Construction Spending
15:00 US ISM Manufacturing PMI
15:00 US ISM Prices Paid
19:00 US Fed Interest Rate Decision
19:00 US Fed’s Monetary Policy Statement and press conference

02.05.13
02:45 Chinese HSBC Manufacturing PMI
08:48 French Markit Manufacturing PMI
08:53 German Markit Manufacturing PMI
08:58 Euro Zone Markit Manufacturing PMI
09:30 UK PMI Construction
12:45 ECB Interest Rate Decision
13:30 ECB Monetary policy statement and press conference
13:30 US Initial Jobless Claims
13:30 US Trade Balance

03.05.13
02:00 Chinese Non-manufacturing PMI
09:28 UK Markit Services PMI
10:00 EU Producer Price Index
13:30 US Nonfarm Payrolls
13:30 US Unemployment Rate

Currency Matters

Yesterday saw substantial volatility within the markets courtesy of mixed PMI figures released in Europe and a tacit message from Mario Draghi suggesting that the European recovery will take longer than expected. Whilst the BOE’s decision to maintain interest rates and quantitative easing levels at their current level had little impact upon the markets, German and Euro Zone PMI figures falling short of expectations and Mario Draghi’s negative assessment of Europe’s recovery caused a substantial move in the euro throughout the day whilst GBP/EUR eventually closed flat at 1.1777. The dollar experienced similar levels of volatility yesterday following higher than expected US Initial Jobless Claims as GBP/USD closed near a six week high of 1.5225 and EUR/USD also closed up at 1.2926.

Despite the relatively high levels of volatility that were witnessed on both sides of the pond yesterday, the largest market movements were attributed to economic news coming out of Asia. In the early hours of yesterday morning the Bank of Japan committed to a substantial bond buying program worth over half a trillion dollars per year – the size of which took markets by surprise. Unsurprisingly however this lead to the most considerable Yen sell off that we have seen for quite some time with the Yen closing down across the board. The Yen touched a near three and a half year low yesterday against the Dollar and has now pushed above this level with USD/JPY reaching 97.15 so far this morning, whilst GBP/JPY has hit 146.67.
This morning we have seen relatively minor movements in the markets following the release of Euro Zone Retail Sales and German Factory Orders, both of which came out above expectations. Market participants are likely regrouping following yesterday’s volatile trading environment and preparing themselves for the release of the US Nonfarm Payrolls later today. Following the weaker than expected US data yesterday, another subpar performance today for the US jobs market could cause the Greenback to drop off even further, with GBP/USD potentially reach 1.53+.

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

Currency Matters

Political agreement would not appear to be any closer in the US following President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. With the postponed fiscal cliff spending cut discussions due to re-emerge in the forthcoming weeks, markets will be hoping bipartisan agreement is easier to come by than it was in the run up to the new year deadline. Last night President Obama offered little in terms of initiatives that are likely to do much to help increase US growth, such as minimum wage increases and climate initiatives. However, when it came to deficit reduction the president was slightly more emphatic, stressing that whilst it is important; “deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan”. It would appear that the theme of political impasse is due to continue as discussions regarding spending cuts and tax hikes loom closer.

Elsewhere yesterday we saw confusion in the markets following contradictory statements released by the G7. Initially indicating that it was unconcerned with recent worries regarding the weakening Japanese Yen, the statement from the G7 seemingly appeared to accept Japans latest fiscal policy manoeuvring as a domestic issue. However this stance was contradicted soon after the initial statement was released, when a G7 official clarified the situation, expressing that the G7 was in fact concerned with Japans monetary policy and the statement had been directed at Tokyo. This led to a wide trading range yesterday for USD/JPY, as the pair bounced between 94.40 – 92.94. We may well see fluctuations in the Yen continue tomorrow as the Bank of Japan is due to release its interest rate decision and monetary policy statement in the morning.

Unsurprisingly Sterling is down against the Euro and the Dollar yet again this morning. After falling over night and during the early hours of this morning, BoE Governor Mervyn King’s speech following the Bank of England’s Quarterly Inflation Report offered no assistance in halting the decline. Despite Governor King insisting the UK economy was set to recover, his comments were shrouded in numerous caveats. Mainly these were that growth is going to take longer and be weaker than had originally hoped, and that inflation is likely to rise. Markets reacted negatively to the Governors speech, in which it was also disclosed that inflation is likely to remain above target as it is becoming increasingly difficult to bring CPI back to the targeted 2%. This lead to immediate downward spikes in both GBP/EUR and GBP/USD, as the pairs dropped as low as 1.1514 and 1.5533 respectively.

With little more economic data due to be released this afternoon, it’s more than likely we will see markets consolidate in preparation for tomorrow. GDP figures are due out across Europe tomorrow morning, with the majority of market focus being heavily placed on German and EU figures. Should these figures fall short of market expectations, this could well be a catalyst for Sterling to begin recovering some of its recent losses.

Mark Webster

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Cable is trapped. GBP/USD has been trading pretty much sideways for the last couple of days and appears trapped in a clearly defined channel, a break either side of which could be very significant. Fibonacci levels show clear support at 1.6010 and substantial resistance at 1.6124, with a further key level found in between at 1.6067, which is where the pair is currently trading. A break above the upper price level would suggest a move back towards 1.6309 and potentially a test of the recent sixteen month high of 1.6381. Conversely, should the lower end of the current price channel give way, the pair is expected to fall back to the next area of key support at 1.5909 and below this the four month low of 1.5825 could be tested once again.

The key question is obviously; which way will the pair break? Cable is currently in a six month upward trend and what could make or break this trend could well be economic data released later this week. Tomorrow we will see the Bank of England release their interest rate decision at 12:00 GMT. Whilst rates are expected to remain at their current levels, any increase, or even a suggestion of an increase, would be very bullish for Sterling. As we saw last week in the US where the FOMC minutes suggested there could be an earlier than expected end to monetary easing policies and interest rate increases – the Greenback immediately strengthened right across the board. Whilst we will also see various figures released in both the UK and US on Friday, the crucial variable could come from outside both of these countries. On Thursday and Friday this week we will see crucial data coming out of China, including Chinese; Trade Balance, Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index. Should these results prove favourable, this would be extremely positive for the global economy and invariably lead to increased optimism globally and consequently a weakening Dollar.

This Morning we saw the release of UK Goods Trade Balance figures that showed there is now a £-9.164B deficit, worse than what markets had been expecting. GBP/EUR did drop off slightly immediately following the release, however the Pound has recovered and is currently trading up for the day at GBP/EUR 1.2282. EU GDP figures for Q4 were released at 10:00 GMT and had little bearing on the markets as they showed that GDP for the region remained at -0.1%. EUR/USD is currently trading flat at 1.3067, only marginally above a key level of support at 1.3064.

Mark Webster

Bungee Jumping Cable

Bungee Jumping Cable

Cable dropped off a cliff last week. Whilst it had climbed
in the week leading up to the New Year as the US edged ever closer to the fiscal cliff, it was actually the FOMC
minutes, released last week that hinted of a potential reduction in monetary
easing and interest rate rise, which pushed the pair over the edge. As the
bungee cord held late last week, today we will see whether the Pound can
actually catapult itself back up towards the 16 month highs that the pair had
experienced ‘pre-jump’.

With the Christmas period now over and the fiscal cliff
disaster averted, or at least slightly postponed, economic data releases should
now begin to take on more of a key role in influencing market movements this
week. With little data due out of the US, key figures from Europe and notably
China could add to market volatility this week. The Bank of England will make
an interest rate decision on Thursday and whilst rates are expected to remain
at their current levels, any increase would substantially strengthen the Pound
and could help Cable rebound after paring its gains last week following the
FOMC minutes. Furthermore Chinas dominance in the global economy means that any
positive data released from the country this week would also help strengthen
Cable as confidence around the world would be increased, stocks would
inevitably be buoyed and demand for safe havens such as the Greenback and Yen
would fall.

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

 

07.01.13

08:00 UK
Halifax House Prices

09:30 EU
Sentix Investor Confidence

10:00 EU
Producer Price Index

 

08.01.13

07:00 German
Trade Balance

10:00 EU
Consumer Confidence

10:00 EU
Retail Sales

10:00 EU
Unemployment Rate

11:00 German
Factory Orders

20:00 US
Consumer Credit Change

 

09.01.13

Chinese
Industrial Production

Chinese
Retail Sales

09:30 UK
Goods Trade Balance

10:00 EU GDP
Q4

11:00 German
Industrial Production

 

10.01.13

Chinese
Trade Balance

12:00 UK BoE
Interest Rate Decision

12:00 UK BoE
Asset Purchase Facility

13:30 ECB
Monetary Policy Statement

 

11.01.13

01:30
Chinese Consumer Price Index

09:30 UK
Manufacturing Production

09:30 UK
Industrial Production

13:30 US
Trade Balance

13:30 US
Import Price

15:00 UK
NIESR GDP Estimate

19:00 US
Monthly Budget Statement

 

Mark Webster

Bye Bye Stimulus

There was little movement in the markets yesterday afternoon following the mixed employment data that came out of the US. That was until the FOMC dropped a bombshell yesterday evening. At 19:00 GMT yesterday the Federal Reserve released their FOMC minutes which suggested there could be an earlier than expected end to the current quantitative easing program. The Dollar strengthened right across the board following the release and both the Euro and Pound pared gains they had made earlier in the week against the Greenback following the fiscal cliff deal.

The announcement slightly panicked equity markets as concerns grew over potential interest rate increases and whether the US economy is actually capable of continuing its recovery without the steroid like effect that the QE program has had. However the comments represent a vote of confidence in the US economy by the Fed and the potential decrease in money supply and rise in interest rates are clearly bullish for the dollar. This was evidenced by the Greenbacks rise against the majority of its counterparts following the FOMC minutes release.

Earlier this morning we saw the release of UK economic data that showed the Markit Services PMI for last month fell to 48.9 and Net Lending to Individuals has dropped to £-0.1B. This caused a momentary spike lower in GBP/EUR as the Pound dropped off 20pips before recovering slightly, however the pair have continued to fall since and is currently trading at 1.2315.

Today is also Non-Farm Friday! We all know what this means – there could once again be some potentially market moving data coming out of the US. At 13:30 GMT the US Nonfarm Payrolls and Unemployment Rate will be released and both could trigger further movement in the Dollar. Cable is currently trading at a key price level having fallen through several areas of support this morning, before breaking beneath a six month upward trend line, as can be seen in the chart below. The next key level of support is at 1.6010 and should this price level be tested, and give way, this would be a strong indication that the rate will continue to drop below 1.60.