EURO to Survive a Greek Haircut?

As expected, the Greek tragedy dominates the markets. It’s a long performance with no intermissions. The rumors of another Greek bailout package (EUR+60b), to come into force next month, is providing a ray of hope for risk investors.

Credit markets are in corrective mode this morning, with broad tightening across the curve. The indices have nearly reversed all the Greek inspired widening since yesterday. The EUR is also getting a lift from Bin Smaghi’s comments that a debt restructuring (code name for default) would cause more problems than it solves. It’s so true, European banks would have to finally clean their balance sheets to withstand a genuine Greek ‘haircut’ and the market believe they are in no position to withstand this scrutiny. The problem is that Greece needs growth in its tax revenue to finance all this and that’s not easily forth coming.

This months 6-month Greek T-bill auction has also attracted a healthy demand this morning. The sovereign was able to offload +1.625b at a yield below the psychological +5% (+4.88%) with a bid-to-cover ratio of 3.58.

The US$ is stronger in the O/N trading session. Currently, it is higher against 11 of the 16 most actively traded currencies in an ‘subdued’ session.

Forex heatmap

The USD is lower against the EUR +0.07% and higher against GBP -0.13%, CHF -0.49% and JPY -0.44%. The commodity currencies are weaker this morning, CAD -0.04% and AUD -0.06%.

After three consecutive months of gains, Canadian housing stats declined at a faster pace than expected last month (-3.2%). Most of the weakness was focused in multi-starts (-5.1%) as singles rebounded. This would suggest that the drag on growth for April will likely be more modest than the headline suggests, couple with S&P’s cutting their rating for Greece has temporarily dampened some of the investor demand for riskier assets. The loonie has been able to pare some of yesterdays losses on the back of a tepid rise in commodities after the over extended price movement last week.

Last week, the CAD retreated from a three-year high as commodities plunged on concerns for Greece’s continued Euro membership, pushing investors to seek temporary sanctuary in the world’s go to safe heaven currency, the dollar, and this despite another stellar jobs report north of the forty-ninth parallel (+58k and +7.6%). With corporate CAD buying interest not appearing until above 0.97, the loonie remains at the mercy of energy prices. If one eliminates all the noise, investors wish to be better buyers of the currency on dollar rallies (0.9623).

The global commodity boom is supporting the Australian trade surplus. Data this morning shows that the trade balance rose to a +1.7b surplus in March from a downwardly revised-87m deficit in February. Increased exports of iron ore (+30%, m/m) and coal (+27%) is driving the +9.2%, m/m rise in total exports, outpacing the +1.2%, m/m rise in imports. The recent commodity boom is leading to an increase in both the price of and demand for hard commodities and the Aussie dollar outright. Stronger Chinese trade data O/N (+$11.4b), a sign that tighter monetary policy is ‘not crimping the Asian nation’s growth’ is also a plus for Australia economy.

The currency has been able to rebound from last weeks lows after the RBA sounded ‘surprisingly’ hawkish in its Statement of Monetary Policy. The hawkish Statement came in well above market expectations of forecasts remaining unchanged. Governor Stevens is signaling that ‘current mildly restrictive monetary policy is not enough to contain inflation pressures in the pipeline’. Furthermore, the RBA is indicating that market pricing of one hike over the next year is not enough. Underlying inflation is now expected to be above its 2-3% target band by the end 2013.

Aussie yields are still the highest in the G10 and do look attractive. The expected mix of trade surpluses and rising capital inflows should provide support for the currency on pullbacks for the time being (1.0788).

Crude is lower in the O/N session ($101.52 -$1.03c). Oil prices rebounded yesterday from the plummeting nature of last weeks actions, on signs that global economic recovery remains intact. Market participants believe that the recent purging in most asset classes is somewhat overdone and that we are experiencing a technical rebound after last weeks-15% haircut, the biggest drop in three-years. The market will be weary of this weeks inventory report, expecting another build in inventories.

Not helping the black-stuff was last week’s EIA report, which was much more bearish than expected. The data showed crude stocks rising +3.4m barrels greater than the +2m barrel build expected by the street, signaling less demand from refiners. On the flip side, gas stockpiles fell-1m barrels, while inventories of distillates (heating oil and diesel), fell -1.4m. Analysts had expected that gas stocks would rise +100k barrels. They were looking for distillate stocks to climb +400k. Gas consumption dropped -2.2% to +8.94m barrels a day last week.

Higher oil prices have been denting demand growth and it’s this drop-off, combined with the overall retreat in commodities, and a rising dollar that forced this drastic easing of oil prices this month. The market had been overbought and last week’s purging is largely a momentum thing. Expect the energy market to find more support below these current levels.

Gold has rebounded as investors take advantage of last week’s free fall in prices to enter the market. The uncertain macro-economic and political environment has encouraged investors to want to own their piece of gold. The yellow metal, as a non-yielding asset, has a higher opportunity cost when interest rates rise. Big picture, the commodity has become the currency of choice because of the heightened currency volatility and on the back of a questionable dollar value.

The metals bull-run is far from over with speculators continuing to look to buy the metal on these deeper pullbacks, however, with inflation expectations dipping this month has the weaker ‘long’s’ remaining on the back foot and second guessing their outright positions ($1,515 +$12.10c).

The Nikkei closed at 9,818 up+24. The DAX index in Europe was at 7,480 up+70; the FTSE (UK) currently is 5,993 up+51. The early call for the open of key US indices is higher. The US 10-year eased 1bp yesterday (3.16%) and is little changed in the O/N session.

Treasuries prices are caught in a tug-of-war as they trade within striking distance of their lowest yields this year. European growth and debt concerns has investors reducing some of their risk appetite, while the issuance of $72b’s worth of product this week and the belief that US retail sales will surprise is trying to push yields higher.

The US treasury plans to sell $72b of long-term debt this week, starting with today’s auction of $32b-3, tomorrow’s $24b-10’s and Thursday’s $16b long-bonds. At the moment they certainly appear rich on the curve, expect dealers to try to cheapen that curve.

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

Dean Popplewell

Dean Popplewell

Vice-President of Market Analysis at MarketPulse
Dean Popplewell has nearly two decades of experience trading currencies and fixed income instruments. He has a deep understanding of market fundamentals and the impact of global events on capital markets. He is respected among professional traders for his skilled analysis and career history as global head of trading for firms such as Scotia Capital and BMO Nesbitt Burns. Since joining OANDA in 2006, Dean has played an instrumental role in driving awareness of the forex market as an emerging asset class for retail investors, as well as providing expert counsel to a number of internal teams on how to best serve clients and industry stakeholders.
Dean Popplewell