What’s NFP Going To Do For The EUR?

It’s confirmed: the European Central Bank (ECB) can “walk the walk and talk the talk” after all. Euro policymakers have stopped at nothing, and have finally decided to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the region’s twin potent risks of deflation and tepid growth. What the market heard from President Mario Draghi was certainly more dovish than anticipated; however, the squeeze on the EUR higher has been an even bigger surprise and the most painful. The EUR bear will be looking to this morning’s U.S. nonfarm payrolls (NFP) report as a lifeline. A strong jobs report will give credence to the Federal Reserve’s tapering endgame and naturally weigh on the EUR through interest rate differentials.

In reality, both investors and dealers are still coming to grips on the when and the how the ECB will have to dive into its toolkit to produce some of the promises. In his post-announcement press conference, Draghi announced the suspension of the sterilization of bond holdings, the preparation for the purchases of asset-backed securities and longer-term loans of €400B. This followed the expected cut to both the ECB’s benchmark rate (0.15%) and deposit rate (-10%), the latter pushing into negative territory for the first time in eurozone history.

The EUR Bounces Back

The market’s initial reaction pushed the EUR to new four-month lows (€1.3504), yet by day’s end, the single currency managed to hold well above its January lows (€1.3473) and atop of the stateside open (€1.3623). A higher EUR was expressing the market’s disappointment with the scope of refinancing and deposit rate cuts along with no quantitative easing announcement. Yesterday’s intraday EUR bid price action was also aided by short covering of EUR positions after the fact. That rebound has weighed on the greenback with sterling back above £1.6800; USD/CHF falling from four-month highs ($0.9025) to one-week lows ($0.8911). USD/JPY (¥102.36) has been held up mostly by EUR/JPY (€139.45), but falling U.S. yields and a small negative close in the Nikkei was JPY negative overnight.

The post-ECB price action in a number of pairs will convince many to adjust their immediate positive outlook for the USD. The techies believe a close for the EUR above the 200-DMA will turn the market neutral from bearish short term, but expect dealers to want to sell EUR rallies ahead of €1.3800. The small bearish pattern in JPY could see the market wanting a pullback toward ¥102 and ¥101.50. Sterling for the moment has investors wishing to sell GBP strength up to £1.6900.

Yesterday’s event price action was not for the faint of heart, but volatility provides opportunity and that is something the forex market has been craving. Today’s main economic releases will provide investors with the same breaks. All eyes will be on the NFP, which is a volatile and oft-revised set of data, but the bulls will be praying for another strong print. This essentially means +200k new jobs or better to keep their charge going. Last month’s +288k blockbuster headline will be tough to beat. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to +6.4% from +6.3%.

The market price action would also suggest that EUR/USD traders remain short-EUR heading into this morning’s number. They too are hoping for a strong headline print – technically stronger data should boost U.S. rates and save them. However, the odds would favor data produced closer to the median (+210k, +6.4%), and if this is the case, then pre-weekend short-EUR covering should become the order of the day. The bullish reversal in the EUR suggests the path of least resistance is likely higher toward €1.3775-1.38, unless there is a significant surprise in the NFP headline rate or a sharp drop in the unemployment rate.

American Data Will Dominate

Heading stateside, the EUR is dipping toward €1.3625-30 mostly on the back of cross-related sellers. The EUR is basically being sold for yield – EUR/AUD down 60 ticks (€1.4565), -100 versus NZD (€1.5980) and more against emerging market currencies. This morning’s number is really a coin toss outcome, but with the specs short-EUR across the board, prudent investors would want to trade the U.S. jobs release with the above positions in mind. Basically, any negative surprises and the EUR will have more support. A strong headline will keep the Fed on track and aid the ECB’s best intentions. Anything in the middle and the market will find it difficult justifying full engagement.

Forex heatmap

Other Links:
Euro Recovers Following ECB Rate Reductions

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