Forex Major Currencies Outlook (February 12, 2013)
No major reports are due from the U.S. today as dollar pairs are expected to react to country-specific events and data. Take note though that a couple of Fed officials are set to speak today and possibly talk about their take on the looming currency war among major economies. Negative comments regarding the ongoing USD/JPY rally could force the pair to retreat but U.S. economic data due later on in the week could have more impact on the currency.
USD/JPY remains on a very strong uptrend despite comments from the Finance Minister saying that the yen selloff wasn't sharper than they anticipated. Japanese officials might be very careful with their comments this week though as the G20 summit is coming up and they'd like to avoid speculations of an ongoing currency war. In fact, the G7 is scheduled to issue a statement later on in the week reiterating that exchange rates should be kept flexible. However, the BOJ monetary policy statement is scheduled to take place in a few days and this could carry more impact depending on how the officials feel about the ongoing yen selloff. Traders might be hesitant to place huge yen positions prior to the event so watch out for some consolidation.
U.K. annual CPI is expected to hold steady at 2.7% for this year and the lack of strong inflationary pressures could weigh on the pound today as it would suggest that the BOE has enough room to implement further asset purchases. After all, the U.K. is still facing the possibility of a triple-dip recession and the BOE is inclined to do whatever it takes to keep that from happening. The BOE inflation report is also set for release and this should shed more light on how the central bank plans to achieve price stability.
ECB Governor Draghi is facing a lot of opposition from other European officials when it comes to keeping the euro's rallies capped. Although he didn't exactly say that the central bank is ready to intervene in the markets, his remarks did spark a huge selloff but it appears to be a mere correction. The G7 is getting ready to issue a statement committing to exchange rate flexibility and this could be enough reason for EUR/USD to resume its rally fueled by improving euro zone fundamentals. Besides, Germany isn't too bothered about euro strength for now and their Finance Minister insists that exchange rates shouldn't be manipulated. Draghi is set to deliver a speech later on today and possibly admit that the ECB isn't looking to intervene in the markets just yet.
With all the dovish comments and threat of an intervention surrounding European currencies (euro and pound), the Swiss franc seems to be the better option for now. The Swiss National Bank seems to be on neutral monetary policy mode at the moment, rendering it one of the less dovish central banks around. Switzerland is set to print its monthly inflation report for January and possibly report a drop in consumer price levels.
The Australian dollar is being weighed down by weak economic data from the Land Down Under. Just last week, Australia released a seemingly good labor report but it turns out the increase in hiring was just a result of part-time jobs and a decline in the participation rate. There are no reports due from Australia for the rest of the week but the downbeat outlook and expectations for a rate cut in their March RBA statement could keep AUD/USD on its way to the 1.0150 support.
New Zealand is set to release its quarterly retail sales report later on this week and traders could be pricing in a weak consumer spending figure. After all, the country released worse than expected jobs data for the same quarter and the labor market weakness is expected to translate to poor spending.
Outgoing Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney is set to give a speech today and possibly give his final assessment for the Canadian economy. Many aren't expecting surprises from the BOC head who is set to move over to the Bank of England later on this year, so there might not be enough catalysts for a rally or selloff for the Canadian dollar.
Forex Major Currencies Outlook (February 13, 2013)
Dollar-buying resumed lately as the G7 leaders issued a joint statement saying that currency movements should reflect fundamentals and that monetary policy should be targeted at supporting growth and not devaluing the currency. This put the recent currency war talks to rest as it triggered a sharp selloff in USD/JPY prior to the upcoming BOJ statement and G20 summit. Today’s focus could be on the US retail sales report, which could post another increase in consumer spending. Both core and headline figures are expecting 0.1% upticks but an upside surprise might be in the cards as the January employment report printed strong results. The Greenback has been reacting to fundamentals these days, which suggests that a strong report could trigger dollar strength.
The Japanese yen rallied sharply after a G7 official was quoted saying that the leaders were very concerned about the yen’s rapid selloff. He reiterated that exchange rate movements should mirror the country’s fundamentals and that monetary policy shouldn’t be used to manipulate the currency’s value. This sets the tone for a careful BOJ statement in Thursday’s Asian session, possibly resulting to more traders easing off their short yen positions. This also sets the stage for the upcoming G20 Summit this weekend, during which world leaders could criticize the yen’s depreciation.
EUR/USD bounced off the 1.3350 area yesterday as currency war talks seem to have been put to rest by the recent G7 statement. European Central Bank head Mario Draghi also dismissed the possibility of an ECB intervention in the currency market as he said that the central bank’s job is to manage monetary policy and spur growth, not engage in exchange rate manipulation. With that, the euro could resume its ongoing uptrend against its counterparts as the central bank seems to be in no rush to change its monetary policy. An ECB member remarked that the central bank’s forecasts haven’t been changed so far as the euro zone shifts its focus from financial stability back to economic growth.
Weaker than expected inflation data from the UK, which suggests that there is enough room for the BOE to implement further easing measures if needed. Take note that the British economy is facing the possibility of a triple-dip recession after posting negative growth in the last quarter of 2012. Since the annual CPI came in at 2.7% though, there is no need for the BOE to release its inflation report, which is required only if the inflation rate overshoots the 3% target. BOE Governor Mervyn King is set to deliver a speech today though and could have comments on the UK’s inflation outlook.
Currency war speculations seem to have very little effect on the Swissy these days, despite the SNB’s successful implementation of its EUR/CHF peg last year. In fact, SNB head Thomas Jordan emphasized that the EUR/CHF peg would still remain this year at 1.2000. The pair barely reacted to the Swiss CPI report which came in line with consensus at -0.3% for January so it might also have a limited reaction to the PPI report due today.
Aside from being able to take advantage of the overall U.S. dollar weakness resulting from the G7 statement, the Canadian dollar also benefitted from hawkish comments from exiting BOC Governor Mark Carney. He may have pushed back the time line for BOC rate hikes as he delivered a less hawkish statement last month but he did reiterate that higher rates are still needed sooner or later. He pointed out the improved inflation outlook in Canada and the positive developments in the euro zone as reasons for his upbeat assessment, leaving the BOC as one of the more hawkish central banks around.
The Australian dollar was able to rebound in the recent trading sessions, thanks to the G7 statement which triggered a broad-based dollar selloff. However, the Australian dollar doesn’t have a lot of fundamental support as economic figures from Australia have hinted at a rate cut for the RBA’s March monetary policy statement. There are no major reports from Australia today, suggesting that interest rate expectations could continue to drive their currency lower.
Just like the Australian dollar, the Kiwi was able to take advantage of the dollar selloff that took place after the G7 committed to market-determined exchange rates. Only the quarterly retail sales release is on New Zealand’s agenda for the rest of the week and, judging from the weak labor report we saw for Q4 2012, we could see a downside surprise or even a negative consumer spending report for the same period.
The U.S. is set to release its retail sales report for February at 1:30 pm GMT today. The headline figure could show a 0.5% increase while the core version of the report could also show a 0.5% uptick as well. Take note that the U.S. NFP for February came in much stronger than expected as the economy added 236K jobs during the month, effectively bringing the jobless rate down from 7.9% to 7.7%. Jobs growth tends to result in stronger consumer spending, which hints at a potential upside surprise for the U.S. retail sales figures. Positive U.S. data has been boosting the Greenback these days as markets are trading on fundamentals.
EUR/USD has been holding its ground above the 1.3000 major psychological level as it continues to move mostly sideways for the week. Perhaps the lack of economic events and political updates from the euro zone is to blame for the pair’s range-bound behavior, which could continue unless we see a significant shift in market sentiment.
Although there are no major reports from the U.K. today, yesterday’s weak manufacturing production release could be enough to trigger another round of pound selling. The report chalked up a surprisingly huge 1.5% decline for January, its steepest decline in months, instead of staying flat during the period. This increases the odds that the country will suffer another economic contraction this quarter, putting the U.K. back in a technical recession.
Commodity Currencies (AUD, CAD, NZD): Bullish
AUD/USD just broke above the 1.0300 major psychological level yesterday as traders started pricing in positive expectations for the Australian employment report due tomorrow. Meanwhile, NZD/USD is still stuck in a range as traders await the actual RBNZ interest rate decision. Rumor has it that RBNZ head Graeme Wheeler is mulling a rate cut just to keep the Kiwi’s gains in check but other analysts expect no changes in monetary policy at all. If that’s the case, NZD/USD could rally back up to the .8300 major psychological resistance and even make a break above that.
The yen has been staying afloat so far this week as traders are still uneasy about buying up higher-risk currencies. Data from Japan has been mixed though as manufacturing showed an improvement while the services sector posted a downturn. No major reports are due from Japan today as the yen could be extra sensitive to risk sentiment as usual.
The U.S. dollar once again found support from stronger than expected economic data during yesterday’s trading. The retail sales figure for February came in at 1.1%, better than the estimated 0.5% uptick, while the core version posted a 1.0% increase for the month. For today, the U.S. will print its PPI and initial jobless claims, both of which could once more boost the U.S. dollar if the actual data comes in strong.
There aren’t a lot of catalysts from the euro zone these days as EUR/USD continues to trade carefully below the 1.3000 area. For now, euro pairs are acting sensitive to their counter currencies’ events. In particular, EUR/USD sold off when strong U.S. retail sales boosted the dollar while EUR/JPY edged higher on uncertainty in Japan.
GBP/USD seems to have found resistance close to 1.5000 during yesterday’s trading as strong U.S. retail sales prevented the pair from heading any higher. There are no major reports from the U.K. today but the downbeat outlook for the U.K. and expectations of further BOE easing could continue to weigh the pound down.
The Australian economy just printed a very strong jobs report for February as the economy added 71.5K jobs during the quarter and kept the jobless rate steady at 5.4% instead of rising to 5.5%. This suggests that the jobs sector is making a strong rebound and doesn’t need further stimulus from the RBA. On top of that, the previous month’s figure enjoyed an upward revision from 10.4K to 13.1K
The Kiwi sold off aggressively after the RBNZ delivered its monetary policy statement during today’s Tokyo session. The central bank did keep rates on hold at 2.50% as expected but Wheeler noted the downturn in domestic economic activity. He blamed the worsening drought conditions and the strength of the New Zealand dollar for this slowdown, citing that the Kiwi is overvalued by 10-15%.
The U.S. dollar lost a lot of ground to its major currency counterparts during yesterday’s trading as we saw a short squeeze, particularly for GBP/USD and EUR/USD. It seems that the selloffs are no longer able to carry on and most traders simply decided to book profits at the pairs’ previous lows. Data from the U.S. has been mostly strong as the PPI and core PPI came in line with expectations while the initial jobless claims report printed a better than expected figure. Watch out for today’s set of data (CPI, core CPI, Empire State manufacturing index, and University of Michigan consumer sentiment figure) during the New York session as these could confirm whether the U.S. dollar is still trading on fundamentals or has shifted to risk sentiment.
The euro may have outpaced the U.S. dollar by a huge lead during yesterday’s trading as most traders decided to close out their short euro positions at the pair’s recent lows. However, there’ s a chance that the recent EUR/USD rally might not have enough energy to stay above the 1.3000 major psychological level for long as fundamentals in the euro zone are still very weak. Take note though that EU officials are having their economic summit today until the end of the week, which might be an event risk for euro pairs.
The sterling was also able to outrun the U.S. dollar during yesterday’s trading as GBP/USD successfully broke above the 1.5000 major psychological level and later on the 1.5100 major psychological level. Some say that this was simply a result of a short squeeze for the pair as traders locked in their profits on their short pound positions. After all, fundamentals in the U.K. are still shaky and the BOE is still inclined to implement further easing. If the rally shows signs of fading, watch out for potential reversals around the major and minor psychological levels, possibly during the U.S. session.
It looks like the recently released strong jobs figures from Australia were a fluke as their statisticians reported an error in the report. However, the Australian dollar still managed to rally strongly against the U.S. dollar, mostly because of the recent short squeeze. No major reports are due from Australia for the rest of the day as the pair’s rally could retreat upon reaching the 1.0400 major psychological level, depending on how U.S. economic releases turn out.
Despite the downbeat RBNZ rate statement wherein Wheeler talked about the overvalued Kiwi, the New Zealand dollar was able to pocket huge gains against the U.S. dollar as it rallied back above .8200 during yesterday’s U.S. session. If the effect of the short squeeze lasts until the end of the week, the Kiwi could keep rallying to its previous highs. On the other hand, if the rally fizzles, NZD/USD could be on its way to test the .8200 support once more.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seems to be having a tough time garnering enough support for Iwata, who he wants to appoint as deputy governor of the BOJ. Iwata is a known dove, just like the newly appointed BOJ head Kuroda, and putting him in position would mean more aggressive policies to ward off deflation and weaken the yen. Unless Abe is able to get enough votes for Iwata’s nomination though, the yen could continue to gain steadily.
Several weekend gaps were made after the short squeeze took place last week as most major currency pairs opened right where they were prior to the profit-taking on Thursday and Friday. This presents an opportunity for weekend gaps to get filled as there are no top-tier economic reports from any of the major economies today. Take note though that the FOMC interest rate decision is coming up midweek and traders could also start pricing in expectations for the event.
The euro underwent a strong rally on Friday as traders continued to book their profits from their recent short trades. However, EUR/USD started the week back below the 1.3000 major psychological level, revealing that the sentiment for the region is still dovish. Nonetheless, with an empty euro zone economic schedule for the day, traders could close the weekend gap and allow the pair to pullback to the 1.3000-1.3050 levels.
After making a strong rally towards the end of the week, GBP/USD is now treading carefully above the 1.5100 major psychological support. There are a bunch of top-tier reports due from the U.K. this week, namely the MPC meeting minutes and claimant count change, along with the CPI and retail sales data. Pound pairs could be in for sideways trading prior to the release of these reports.
There are no reports due from Australia today but traders could start pricing in their expectations for an upbeat RBA monetary policy meeting minutes release tomorrow. Recall that the central bank decided to keep rates unchanged during their recent monetary policy decision as RBA Governor Stevens reiterated that the previous easing efforts are just starting to kick in. After that, Australia started printing strong economic figures, which could mean that the RBA might be more hawkish about the country’s economic prospects this time.
Although last week’s RBNZ monetary policy announcement revealed that Governor Wheeler thought that the Kiwi strength was undermining economic growth, NZD/USD managed to rally from the short squeeze that took place before the end of the week. This week, the downbeat assessment for the New Zealand economy could be highlighted by the GDP release later on this week. Until then, NZD/USD could trade carefully for the next few days.
USD/CAD price action is still much choppier compared to most major currency pairs as fundamentals in Canada haven’t been very clear. This week, the Canadian retail sales release should provide more insight on how the economy is performing as consumer spending takes up a huge chunk of overall economic growth.
BOJ Deputy Governor nominee Iwata was finally able to secure enough votes to take his position in the central bank. This means that the doves Kuroda and Iwata are heading the BOJ and that we could expect aggressive easing measures down the line as Japan tries to fight deflation and keep the yen’s value down. Traders just booked their short yen profits recently though, which suggests USD/JPY could pull back to the 94.00 area of interest though before resuming its rally.
Weekend gaps on most dollar pairs seem to have been filled at the moment, except for the large one on EUR/USD. Risk is off in the markets at the moment as equities have been sliding and higher-yielding assets are selling off, suggesting a potential safe-haven dollar rally. There are no major reports due from the U.S. today as only building permits and housing starts data are due during the U.S. session. Building permits could climb from 0.90 million to 0.93 million while housing starts are projected to rise from 0.89 million to 0.92 million in February.
The recent bailout in Cyprus is wreaking havoc in the financial markets as traders started to get jitters about a comeback of the euro zone debt crisis. Although Cyprus is just a small country in the region, contagion is still possible to other banks in the area. As for economic releases, the German ZEW economic expectations and overall euro zone ZEW economic expectations data are due during the London session today. The German ZEW could dip from 48.2 to 47.9 for the current month while the euro zone figure is expected to climb from 42.4 to 43.7. Weaker than expected results could trigger a sharper euro selloff.
The pound was able to take advantage of the short squeeze that took place late last week but GBP/USD and GBP/JPY are currently consolidating as traders await the release of the U.K. CPI and the BOE inflation report. Consumer prices are projected to be up by 2.8% on an annual basis, higher than the previous reading of 2.7% but still within the central bank’s target. In case the actual figure moves out of the government’s target, the BOE will have to submit an Inflation Letter to the Chancellor explaining why it happened and what the central bank plans to do.
There are no reports due from Switzerland today but the Swiss franc is being closely watched by European traders seeking a safer currency. The gap on USD/CHF hasn’t been filled yet, which suggests a potential selloff for the pair at least back to the .9400 major psychological support level.
USD/JPY found support at the 94.00 previous resistance level and appears ready to test its recent highs around 96.75. There are no major reports due from Japan today or tomorrow as Japanese banks will be off on a holiday. EUR/JPY’s weekend gap still hasn’t been filled as the pair hasn’t reached the 124.50 minor psychological resistance yet.
Commodity Currencies (AUD, CAD, NZD): Neutral
Canadian wholesale sales and manufacturing sales are scheduled for release during the New York session and these reports could provide enough volatility for USD/CAD. Both reports are expected to print rebounds for January, as manufacturing sales could increase by 0.7% while wholesale sales might rise by 0.4%, suggesting a recovery in consumer spending later on. As for the Australian dollar, the RBA just released the minutes of their latest monetary policy meeting and noted that the economy has shown positive signs lately. No economic reports are due from New Zealand.
Most dollar pairs could be in for a lot of tight consolidation during today’s trading sessions as traders sit on their hands prior to the FOMC monetary policy statement. Their most recent rate decision included a mention of potential tapering off of monetary policy stimulus in order to keep inflationary pressures in check yet Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke was quick to dismiss expectations of an early withdrawal of bond purchases. Today’s FOMC rate decision could set the record straight on what policymakers think should be done about the U.S. economy and if we hear of more concrete plans to tighten monetary policy sooner than later, the U.S. dollar could resume its rally. Otherwise, remarks on persistent weaknesses in the economy could trigger a selloff.
Lawmakers over at Cyprus rejected the recently announced bailout proposal for the country as this involves an unusual one-time tax on deposits in Cypriot banks. This prompted fears of a bank run as some depositors rushed to withdraw their bank holdings to avoid getting slapped with high tax rates. However, the Cypriot parliament voted against this bailout and seems to be considering asking for extra funding from Russia instead. Unless Cyprus is able to get guarantees of enough liquidity to shore up its troubled banks, it could edge closer to a default which would be very negative for the euro.
Pound pairs are trading very carefully these days as yesterday’s inflation releases failed to spark any volatility in GBP/USD. The pair is still stuck around the 1.5100 to 1.5175 area, awaiting for more clues from the U.K. economy. The BOE is scheduled to release the minutes of their latest monetary policy meeting today and this report should shed light on why the central bank still decided to make no changes to its asset purchase program. The minutes would reveal exactly how many policymakers voted for further easing and a higher number this time would reveal that the central bank is becoming increasingly dovish.
Japanese banks are on holiday today, which suggests quiet trading for yen pairs. Markets could be more focused on central bank rhetoric from the U.S. which is awaiting the FOMC statement and the U.K. which will soon release the BOE’s monetary policy meeting minutes. This suggests that USD/JPY and GBP/JPY might be more volatile today compared to other yen pairs.
The Swiss ZEW economic expectations report, which improved from -6.9 to 10.0, in the previous month is set for release today. Another improvement could boost the franc against the U.S. dollar and the euro while a negative reading could trigger a sharp selloff. Franc rallies have been subdued lately as the SNB remains committed to keep the franc’s value down so selling the franc might yield a larger profit potential.
Commodity Currencies (AUD, NZD, CAD): Bearish
The Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, and Canadian dollar have all been sliding lower against the lower-yielding U.S. dollar for the past few days as risk aversion is hurting the higher-yielding and riskier assets. The ongoing bailout concerns in Cyprus is mostly to blame for the lack of risk appetite even in equity markets as commodity currencies are very sensitive to market sentiment. New Zealand is set to print its Q4 2012 GDP figure today and a 0.9% expansion is eyed versus the previous 0.2% uptick in growth. A stronger than expected figure could boost the New Zealand dollar while a weak one could result in a selloff.
Dollar pairs are stuck in consolidation so far as EUR/USD keeps testing the 1.2950 minor psychological resistance while GBP/USD is still moving sideways around the 1.5100 area. The recent FOMC statement seemed to be a non-event as the Fed kept rates on hold and asset purchases unchanged as expected while Fed head Bernanke didn’t announce anything out of the ordinary. He did reiterate that the central bank would continue to watch employment and inflation very closely in order to determine whether the U.S. economy could survive without monetary policy easing or not. The Fed also lowered their growth forecasts for the year but also predicted slightly lower unemployment later on. For today, jobless claims, existing home sales, and the Philly Fed index are set for release and these reports could spark some volatility among dollar pairs.
EUR/USD has been stuck below the 1.2950 minor psychological resistance lately as the weekend gap still hasn’t been filled. EUR/JPY, on the other hand, is making another test of the 124.00-124.50 area as the pair bounced off its previous lows yesterday. Today’s euro zone PMIs could be big movers for the euro pairs as these reports tend to post nearly the same results. Both German manufacturing and services PMIs are expecting to show improvements for February while staying above the 50.0 mark indicating expansion. French manufacturing and services PMIs are projected to stay below 50.0, but the contraction is expected to slow down in February.
The recently released BOE meeting minutes did spark a bit of volatility during yesterday’s trading but failed to push GBP/USD in a clear direction. The pair remains stuck just above the 1.5100 mark and it appears that the U.K. retail sales report might be the major catalyst for today. Retail sales are projected to rebound by 0.5% in February after slumping by 0.6% during the previous month. Stronger than expected data could eventually push GBP/USD to break to the upside.
The yen sold off against most of its counterparts during yesterday’s trading and might be in for another round today. BOJ Governor Kuroda is scheduled to give his first speech as central bank today and he could outline their plans regarding monetary policy. Remember that Kuroda is a fan of aggressive monetary policy easing, especially since Japan needs to ward off deflation and keep the yen low. Watch out for additional volatility among yen pairs during Kuroda’s speech around 10:00 am GMT.
USD/CAD has been consolidating inside a symmetrical triangle on the 1-hour chart as traders await the release of Canadian retail sales today. The report could show that headline consumer spending rebounded by 0.4% this January after slipping by 0.9% in December while core retail sales could recover by 0.6% after dropping by 2.1% in December. Strong figures could push USD/CAD to break to the downside while weak data could trigger an upside breakout.
There are no major reports due from Australia today as Aussie pairs could simply react to the recent Chinese PMI release or any changes in risk sentiment. The HSBC flash manufacturing PMI in China came in stronger than expected at 51.7 versus 51.2 and the previous 50.4 reading, reflecting stronger expansion in their manufacturing sector. Since China is Australia’s largest importer, improved manufacturing activity could translate to higher demand for Australia’s commodities.