Week in FX Jan 29-Feb 3

CHF continues to rise despite the EUR’s resilience. The SNB’s pledge to hold the CHF 1.20 cap will soon be tested. Since its inception last September it has worked, however, in the past few weeks’ market sentiment has changed dramatically. China considering greater involvement in EFSF and ESM program has done little to support currency so far.

The market has aggressively been playing the risk reward trade at these levels by selling CHF aggressively and waiting for the imminent announcement. The threat of a deep recession in the problem Euro-zone is only making this trade more difficult to stomach. The region has yet to feel the true impact of the implemented austerity measures to reduce their budget deficits. Euro banks tightening their lending policies to both corporate and private interest over the last three months is putting a tighter noose around mainland Europe. The ECB’s increased liquidity policy is not working.

All of this is pointing towards the Euro sentiment plummeting again-CHF and JPY positive. The Franc’s outright performance against the dollar is not exactly helping the SNB. Bernanke’s dovish tone has driven the yield spreads between the US and Swiss even lower and made the CHF more attractive. It seems that all the cross bounces are giving investors better opportunities to own the currency or pare their offside positions outright. Intervention again is the risk, however, the rumored $20+ “yards” of stop-loss orders below the cap figure should be cleaned out if the SNB wants to teach the market an expensive lesson.

Below are some other highlights of the week:


  • EU: The dollar opened the week much stronger against EM and G10 currencies. The risk selloff started during the Asia session, as markets re-opened after the Lunar New Year holiday.
  • EU: Italy issues +€7.5b in 2016-2022 bonds ahead of their largest redemption for 2012 (February 1st +EUR25b). The auctions were well received, however, post interest saw the ECB buying product.
  • EU: Portugeuse 5-year product manages to record the highest yields for the post-Euro era of +22.69%, fueled by the turn of events in Greece. The market perception seems to accept a Greek default as a given.
  • EU Summit: A leaked German proposal for Greece to cede control over its budget in return for financial aid “casted an uncertain outlook on PSI negotiations.” Market continue to question “the soundness of the recent risk rally.”
  • WSJ reported that a Greek PSI deal ‘may’ be concluded this week. This of course is subject to Greece securing a new financing program from the IMF and EU.
  • EU: Mixed European confidence surveys contributed to softening risk appetite at the beginning of the week. Services confidence improved while industrial confidence failed to pick up from the recent lows.
  • EU: Unemployment in the Euro-zone hits a record high +10.4%.
  • EU Leaders: They have agreed to accelerate the set up of a full time +Eur500b rescue fund (EMS and EFSF) and backed a deficit control treaty. Initially response saw European sovereign markets responding well to the summit outcome, with Italian 10-year yields reversing about half of the previous sessions rise.
  • EU: The brief Euro-summit has been viewed as a success relative to modest expectations, allowing the market to eliminate some event risk for the euro system.
  • GRE: Greece PSI remains elusive and is continuing to generate market anxiety.
  • CHF: The SNB’s December balance sheet report confirms that policy makers used FX swaps to add CHF liquidity during the course of December last year (+CHF 20b).
  • CHF: The SNB’s balance sheet also revealed small changes to the FX reserve breakdown by currencies (EUR’s share from +54.8% in Q3 to +52.1% in Q4-in favor of dollars and GBP). At current levels, risk reward favors long EUR/CHF.
  • UK: The market is looking for QE expansion next week in the UK, mostly on the back of money growth remaining very weak. M4 ex-OFC contracted -0.7%, m/m. Net consumer credit declined -£0.4b, while mortgage approvals at 52.9k disappointed vs. the consensus for 54k.
  • NOK: Norway’s credit rose +6.7%, y/y, above the consensus forecast for +6.5%. Retails sales growth remains solid in annual terms at +2.6%, y/y. The futures market expects the Norges bank to remain resilient as data support call for rates “on hold” at the next meeting.
  • NOK: The Norges Bank will purchase foreign exchange equivalent to +NOK350m per day for the Government Pension Fund Global in February. This amount is not large compared to the historical average.
  • EU: Stronger PMI’s in Europe and China allowed risk sensitive deals to pressure the dollar and yen mid-week.
  • EU: The Euro-zone PMI was revised a tad higher from the initial estimate to 48.8. Digging deeper, the German PMI was also revised higher, while the Italian PMI at 46.8 printed well above the consensus forecast of 45.3. Spain’s was not to be left behind, its PMI rose to 45.1 from 43.7. The data suggests that the business climate is at least stabilizing in the region, including in the systemically critical periphery countries.
  • Scandinavia, UK and CE3 PMI’s increased strongly. In the UK perhaps further QE becomes questionable? Swedish and Norwegian prints swung back above 50 (expansion).
  • CHF: In contrast, Swiss PMI decreased sharply to 47.3. They also managed to report a weak retail sale (annual growth rate dropped to +0.6% from +1.8%).
  • EU: Consistent rumors that a Greek PSI deal has been struck (with a 72% NPV haircut) has pushed investors to strap on more risk. What about the collective action clauses?
  • EU: There are reports that the PSI deal is being held up by differences between Germany and the IMF. When the “collective actions clauses” are being enforced we will get to hear more from the disgruntled creditors. The various posturing by interested parties is in danger of making this the worlds longest ‘expected’ announcement.
  • EU: EU Juncker says that Greek PSI talk are ultra-difficult. The lack of tangible progress in the talks seems to be taking a toll on currencies geared to Europe – CE3, Scandis, ZAR, and TRY.
  • CNY: Premier Wen has indicated that China is still researching how to participate in the EFSF and ESM program. China supports European effort to stabilize Euro and it may increase their participation via the rescue funds to help resolve the European debt crisis.
  • CHF: Bernanke’s dovish tone has driven the USD/CHF yield spreads even lower and is making the CHF more attractive. These cross bounces are giving investors better opportunities to own the currency or pare their offside positions outright. Intervention again is the risk.
  • EU: Spain and France managed to issue bonds, at the front end and in the belly of the curve, to strong investor demand.
  • GBP: UK construction PMI fell to 51.4 in January from 53.2 (below consensus for 52.5). Manufacturing and services surveys will carry a larger weight for the next BoE meeting (February 9). Analysts are looking for an expansion in the QE program next week based on weak hard data in Q4 and very soft money growth.
  • EU: The Euro area services PMI was revised fractionally lower from the flash estimate, it now reads 50.4 vs. 50.5.
  • EU: Greek PSI talks continue, with markets increasingly ignoring statements suggesting progress is being made. Latest reports indicate a deal could be submitted to the EU and IMF over the weekend, and approved at a Eurogroup meeting next Monday.
  • GBP: The UK Services PMI rose to 56.0 in January from 54.0 in December, the strongest level since March 2011.Next week we get to see if extra QE is to be applied. Unchanged BoE policy or a signal to an end of QE would clearly be positive for GBP as a EUR alternative.
  • EU: Euro-zone retail sales fell for a second month in December, down -0.4% m/m and -1.6% y/y. Retail sales is again strong proof that the EUR’s 17-nations are threatening to return to recession, if they are not already there. In the 27-member European Union, sales rose +0.3%; largely due to a +0.4% rise in the UK and a +0.7% uptick in Poland.



ASIA Week in FX



  • Rate announcements dominate the week, AUD, GBP and EUR
  • Labor costs and employment changes/claims come to us from NZD and USD
  • CHF and CNY deliver their inflation reports
  • Trade Balance is reported in CNY, CAD and USD
  • Aussies deliver their Retail Sales number
  • CAD presents Ivey PMI and Building Permits
  • We end the week on Consumer Sentiment from the USD


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