Forex Week in Review June 5-10

It’s get out of Dodge time. The EUR continues to falter as sovereign-debt worries remain at the forefront. The ECB seems to be losing its grip on its own independence and is in danger of becoming more of a political pawn in Europe, talking its own book. This week’s ECB rate announcement was a zero-sum game, the bulls and bears got what they wanted, a hint of a rate hike and Trichet mentioning a stronger dollar policy more than once. However, there seems to be some ambiguity in his comments about when and how often they will need to raise rates this year, remaining a cloud over the currency.

Risk aversion trading strategies continue to dominate as fear of global growth stagnation has investors wanting to pare some of their risk winning trades. With European leaders remaining at odds on how to provide long term support for Greece and a slow down in Chinese risk exports this week is also weighing heavily on risk appetite. Below are some of the key highlights of the week:


EUROPE

  • Portugal’s opposition center right PSD party posted a strong result last weekend and appear to form a coalition with the center right CDS-PP party with a strong majority in parliament. This bodes well for a stable government capable of pushing through key reforms and help honor the terms of the €78bn EU/IMF bailout.
  • In Spain, Moody’s commented on plans by the government of the Catalan region to exceed budget targets, noting this is credit negative for Spain.
  • German April factory orders surprised to the upside, rising +2.8% vs. +2.0%. The prior month’s reported -4.0% was revised up to -2.7%. Data suggest Germany has entered the global slow patch period with strong momentum.
  • Swiss CPI rose +0.4%, y/y, in May from +0.3%, higher than the consensus for a flat reading. This was still below the SNB’s own projection of a +0.5%, y/y, rise for second quarter. Subdued inflation and an overvalued franc should deter the SNB from sounding hawkish next week
  • In the UK, both BRC retail sales and Halifax house prices surprised to the downside. Halifax house prices fell -4.2% in May, while BRC sales contracted +2.1%, y/y.
  • IEA released a new ‘special’ report arguing that global consumption of natural gas will rise 50% over the next 25-years. China’s demand will rise from about the level of Germany to match that of the entire EU by 2035.
  • German industrial production surprised on the downside, falling -0.6% in April and pushed the annual growth of industrial production lower to a still-strong +9.6%, y/y rate.
  • Norwegian manufacturing production was also weaker, down -1.1% in April. The soft patch was partly attributed to the long period of cold weather.
  • Swiss unemployment rate fell to +3.0% in May. The labor market remains very tight, with the unemployment rate below the levels which the SNB started hiking in the last two cycles.
  • French and Swedish industrial production both fell, easing -0.3% and -0.7% in April respectively.
  • The pattern continued in the UK, with industrial production falling sharply (-1.7%) due to a large extent of the effect of the extra bank holiday due to the royal wedding. Manufacturing production fell -1.5%.
  • Norway CPI rose +1.6%, y/y in May, price pressures eased slightly on a month-on-month basis thanks to declines in transportation prices. Core-inflation moderated to +1%, y/y, from +1.3%.
  • As expected both the BoE and ECB kept overnight rates on hold. Trichet did manage to use the ‘strong vigilance’ language, a green light for hike in July. No comment further out the curve.
  • S&P’s said that France could lose its triple-A rating and without reform a downgrade was likely by 2020.
  • German Feri EuroRating downgraded the US to double-A from triple-A.

Americas

  • Fed Chairman Bernanke argued the US economy should begin to recover in the coming months. He emphasized that the negative effects of supply chain disruptions from the Japanese earthquake and the rise in gas prices will fade. His tone suggests that he is disappointed with the pace of US recovery and is probably far from any form of exit from easy monetary policy.
  • Canadian building permits plunged (-21.1%), wiping out nearly all of this years gains and has analysts questioning the strength of the Canadian construction industry. The trend for building permits and housing starts remains in negative territory and certainly does not support a rate hike by Governor Carney next month.
  • In the US the number of individuals applying for weekly benefits remained virtually the same (+427k).
  • Canada recorded an unexpected trade deficit in April (-$0.9b), on a drop in foreign sales of transportation equipment (-1.9%).
  • Canada created +22.3k new jobs last month and managed to reduce the unemployment rate to +7.4%.

ASIA

  • Inflation index down-under show that Aussie inflation fell to +3.3%, y/y, in May from +3.6%, but still above the RBA’s 2-3% target range. Job advertisements eased -6.5% in May-the second decline in 13-months.
  • RBA surprised the markets with its slightly dovish monetary policy statement. Policy makers added the caveat that they would ‘assess carefully’ the outlook for inflation at future meetings. They softened their tone by adding ‘inflation will be close to target over the next year’. Softer Chinese and US PMIs have made them reluctant to commit either way.
  • Australian home loans increased a better than +4.8%, m/m, but the value of loans for housing investment fell -1.6%.
  • Chinese export growth grew +19.4%, y/y, but was slightly weaker than the +20.4% expected. Imports rose +28.4%, y/y versus an expected +22%. The 12-month rolling trade surplus has narrowed to +$173b in May from +$179b in April. Analysts note that the import showing is likely to ease concerns on the sharp slowing in Chinese growth.
  • Australia employment was a subdued +7.8k in May which followed a downwardly revised -49.4k in April. The modest gains were due to part-time employment. The unemployment rate was broadly stable at +4.9%, with the participation rate unchanged at 65.6%. Reports reduced the chance of a July RBA rate hike.
  • RBNZ kept the policy rate unchanged at +2.5%, highlighting risks to inflation.
  • WSJ reported that Chinese policymakers will allow the PBoC to repatriate the CNY it raises in HK. If so, it would help encourage more mainlands corporate to issue Yuan denominated debt in HK to develop a CNH bond market.

 

WEEK AHEAD

  • We are not done with interest rate decisions, the BoJ and the SNB are up this week
  • Markets gets CPI data from China, UK and US
  • Retail sales data comes form the US, New Zealand and the UK
  • And we end the week with the Philly Fed Index and the Preliminary UoM Consumer Sentiment Index

 

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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