The show must go on. Helicopter BenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s speech has given the dollar an unfair handicap over it major rivals. The race to depreciate your own currency the lowest is underway. The SNB had the inside track for most of this year, but, alas has and continues to stumble. The BOJ certainly had aspiration last week and for a moment looked like a good bet amongst the punters, but in the end their efforts have had little affect. They will be back. No actions just words and the market squeezes weak dollar longs out of their positions as the continue to try to establish a top or dollar bottom. Momentum is pushing the higher yielding currencies towards parity while the cross have a ways to catch up. The market is taking dead aim in wanting to push Ben’s currency much lower. Good Luck.
The US$ is mixed in the O/N trading session. Currently it is lower against 13 of the 16 most actively traded currencies in a Ã¢â‚¬ËœvolatileÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ trading range.
YesterdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s US housing data certainly surprised to the upside (+0.6m vs. +0.55m) and provided albeit brief support for the dollar. Builders broke ground on +598k houses at a annual rate of +10.5% and the most in four months. Not to be outdone, building permits, a proxy of future activity managed also to rise from it record lows (+0.57m vs. +0.56m). Investors are beginning to believe that the housing market may have found its bottom and currently is dredging along it. A plus factor has been mortgage rates piggy-backing their record lows. The degree of sustainability is giving developers the confidence to build after the expiration of a government tax credit caused sales to plunge. Similar to most of the US sectors, housing expansion is dependent on Ã¢â‚¬Ëœa drop in the unemployment rateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
The only thing that the market could have been assured of yesterday from the Fed was that there was Ã¢â‚¬Ëœno rate changeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. However, inline with market consensus, no additional QE was introduced. There were some subtle changes to the communique that was delivered a number of weeks ago. The assessment for growth has not changed. Policy makers acknowledged that business spending is not as dynamic as in the first half of the year. On a brighter note, bank lending seems to be contracting at a reduced pace to the Aug. release. However, the assessment for inflation has changed considerably. The statement clearly highlights that Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmeasures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stabilityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. This is strong proof that the Fed will not move rates until inflationary pressures remain so low. Ã¢â‚¬ËœWith substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to remain subdued for some time before rising to levels the Committee considers consistent with its mandateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. The final paragraph was more dovish than expected, Helicopter Ben states that not only will they continue to monitor, but also are Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. The Fed is clearing the decks for further stimulus soon, especially if further disinflationary pressures develop!
The USD$ is lower against the EUR +0.72%, CHF +0.49%, GBP +41% and JPY +0.59%. The commodity currencies are stronger, CAD +0.48% and AUD +0.07%. Canadian data yesterday showed that the cost of living in Canada unexpectedly fell last month (-0.1% and +1.7%, y/y). Similarly, core-inflation was unchanged at +1.6% in Aug. from a year ago. The released data did little to phase the currencyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s value. The loonie again became well sought after the FedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement. Policy makers are willing to ease monetary policy some more to boost the economy, this by default will spur demand for assets that benefit from global growth. That equate to cheaper money, growth presumably and riskier commodity driven currencies being in demand. Speculators continue to covet higher yielding growth currencies like the CAD and AUD. US/CAD spreads are dominating the directional play of North American currencies. Month-to-date, spread trades have been the most fundamentally, macro-financial driven reason to want to own the loonie vs. its southern neighbor. A wider spread Ã¢â‚¬Ëœreflects the improved monetary policy sentiment for CanadaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and is supportive for the currency. The loonie is receiving Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthree-prongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ support, a less dovish BOC, a currency being used as a proxy for growth and to a lesser extent a safer heaven investment. A higher percentage of speculators seem to have missed most of last weeks Ã¢â‚¬ËœmoveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, the market should expect to witness better buying of Canadian dollars on Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbig dollarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ rallies in the short term. It seems that parity is again back on the table.
Over the last quarter the AUD has been the best performing major currency. Various technical analysts now believe it is perhaps the most overvalued. Last night the currency advanced to a two-year high on the belief that the RBA would raise rates while the Fed eases monetary policy further, thus increasing the yield advantage. There is a strong difference in monetary policy stance between Australia and the US and it should provide stronger support for the Aussie. Since June, the AUD has rallied +13% vs. the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbig dollarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, benefiting from its unilateral trade links with the Chinese economy. China is AustraliaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s largest trade partner. Not helping the currency will be the forming of a minority government. PM Gillard won the backing of key independent lawmakers this month, allowing her Labor Party to retain government and pursue a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtax on mining companiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Technically, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe fiscal outlook looks worse under a minority government and management of an economy growing at +10% in nominal-terms may increasingly rest on the RBAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. The problem, a proposed tax on mining companies will dampen demand for the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s assets. If we happen to witness global economic growth decelerating, then we could have the reallocation of funds back out of growth currencies just as quickly as it came in. The AUD has gained ground against all of its major trading partners as the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœvix indexÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ of volatility softens, boosting investor appetite for assets tied to growth. Ã¢â‚¬ËœClearly what happens in the Australian economy is now more dependent upon what happens in ChinaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Analysts believe that the market is somewhat underestimating the number of chances of further tightening by the RBA over the next 6-12 months (0.9560).
Crude is higher in the O/N session ($75.13 +16c). Crude prices are finding it difficult to rally on the lack of market data. Investors require confirmation that the US economy is picking up otherwise prices will become well contained within a $5 trading range. Crude happened to pare some of the previous dayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s +1.6% rally yesterday on the back of a surprising no-change to the Builder confidence index (13). Fundamentally, oil continues to look at stocks as a proxy for growth. The Ã¢â‚¬Ëœblack-stuffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is expected to gyrate north and south of the psychological $75 print until there is a sign that the market is picking up, or that Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe uncertainty and depressed conditions both here and within the Euro-zone spreadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. The neutral weekly EIA report last week was very much inline with Capital Markets expectations. The headline print showed that oil inventories fell -2.5m barrels vs. a market expectation of -2.6m. Stockpiles of gas declined -700k barrels vs. a market prediction of a -400k loss, and inventories of distillates (diesel and heating oil) decreased -300k vs. expectations of an -800k retreat. At +357.4m barrels, US crude inventories remain above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Crude imports rose +141k barrels to +8.99m bpd and this despite an outage by Enbridge, who provides a pipeline which brings crude directly to the US from Canada. Refinery utilization slipped -0.6% to +87.6% of capacity. The market is wary that the underlying situation has not changed, the overall fundamentals remain weak and stockpiles of crude and products remain close to their record highs. Analysts expect speculators to remain better sellers on up-ticks in the short term.
Gold continues to fluctuate within the record high territory achieved this morning as a weaker dollar and concern about the sustainable growth of the US economy has investors seeking protection in an asset with a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœstore of valueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Any mentioning of projects to keep the currency low will provide stronger support for the commodity. Year-to-date, the yellow metal has appreciated +18.7%, outperforming most of the other asset classes, as global sovereign-debt concerns and an Ã¢â‚¬Ëœuneven economic recovery roil financial marketsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. With the dollar currently trading at new lows vs. the EUR is also aiding commodity prices. Metals are heading for their 10th consecutive annual gain. Global Ã¢â‚¬ËœfearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ has the momentum, again, to push speculators back into this overcrowded, one-directional commodity trade. With the Fed on the verge of announcing further QE programs Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtend to be supportive of asset prices and is fueling concerns about the potential longer-term inflationary impact of such measuresÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. The opportunity costs of holding gold are low due to falling interest rates, by default, the market should expect better buying of the metal on pull backs ($1,291 +$17.60c).
The Nikkei closed at 9,566 down -36. The DAX index in Europe was at 6,218 up -37; the FTSE (UK) currently is 5,538 -57. The early call for the open of key US indices is lower. The US 10-year eased 13bp yesterday (2.57%) and another 4bp in the O/N session (2.54%). Yields have tumbled across the curve especially in the short end. Two-year product managed to print record low return this morning after the FedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement yesterday. Helicopter Ben is willing to ease monetary policy to try to boost the US economy and employment. The has curve flattened to its narrowest point in two-weeks (+213bp). Further risk of economic relapse is providing the bid for the debt. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s back to the drawing board for innovative trading strategies. Until there is significant changes in the economic outlook, investors will expect Treasuries to trade within a tight range.
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