The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will release its interest rate statement, and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will speak at a press conference on March 18 at 2 p.m. ET, in the most anticipated event for next week in the forex market.
Central banks will be well represented this week as the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Bank of England (BoE) will also publish minutes from rate-setting meetings earlier in the month, as well as the Bank of Japan (BoJ), which is scheduled to deliver a monetary policy decision on Monday.
There are no major changes expected in the actual rate decisions, but the rhetoric that will be delivered via statements and press conferences will give further direction to the market.
Here is more information on the week’s top forex market events:
Reserve Bank of Australia Meeting Minutes on March 16
The Australian central bank will release the minutes from its benchmark rate-setting meeting that took place on March 2. The RBA decided to hold rates at a record low of 2.25%. The market expected another rate cut after the surprise rate cut in February. The central bank has hinted that the Australian dollar is overvalued and the RBA’s Assistant Governor Christopher Kent made a comment this week about lowering the interest rate further in upcoming meetings. The minutes from March 2 will give further insight into what policy members discussed and what the background of the final call to hold rates was. Employment, business confidence, and the fears of a housing bubble will be present in the notes.
Bank of Japan Monetary Policy Statement and Press Conference March 16
The BoJ is not expected to announce any changes to its monetary policy on March 16. Six out of nine of the BoJ’s board members have made public statements preparing the market for a lack of inflation in the coming months. The expansive monetary policy put in place after Governor Haruhiko Kuroda joined the central bank to make the 2% inflation a reality has devalued the JPY, but it has not yet persuaded corporate Japan to increase investments or raise wages. The Nikkei touched a 15-year high as there is optimism around exporters faced with a weaker currency. The BoJ has attacked publicly the biggest reason for adding more stimuli: to create a lower inflation expectation. With the stock market roaring, it can wait until further action is needed if lower oil prices continue.
German ZEW Economic Sentiment on March 17
The ZEW survey has a pool of 275 participants that includes investors and analysts that are highly informed with the economic health of Germany. The reading has been recovering from a near two-year low in October 2014. The survey registered a reading of 53 last month an 11-month high, but it was lower-than-expected given the improving German economy. Back in October there were a lot of doubts around the austerity and budget balancing measures Germany was attempting. The market hoped that Germany would lead by example in boosting the economy through extra liquidity. Germany has stuck to its principles and awaited the announcement of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) quantitative easing (QE) program. The market is forecasting a 58.9 reading that could end in the optimistic range given current global economic conditions, but it will be surprise if the final ZEW survey is not close to expectations even if it missed them.
Bank of England MPC Official Bank Rate Votes on March 18
The BoE held rates on March 5 to no one’s surprise given the change in the economic outlook in the last quarter of 2014, and the upcoming general elections in the U.K. The vote is expected to be 0-0-9, a unanimous vote to keep rates unchanged. It would be the third time there is a lack of dissent in the Monetary Policy Committee after the 2-0-7 trend which meant two of the nine board members wanted to increase rates. Given the political atmosphere and the macro headwinds coming from Europe and further abroad, there is very little the BoE can do but be patient and the minutes should reflect that.
The big event this week will have the market have a laser-like focus on the FOMC on its rate decision, and more importantly, on its statement and press conference that goes along with it. The federal funds rate is not expected to change at 0.25%, but market watchers will be scouring the statement looking for changes in the language, particularly the possible exclusion of the word “patient.” Yellen has already gone on the record saying even without the word in the statement, it does not necessarily signal a rate hike.
The EUR/USD continues to head lower touching multiyear highs on a daily basis. The U.S. retail sales disappointment was only able to slow down the rally as rate divergence continues to drive the price of the EUR towards parity. The ECB’s QE program was officially announced in January, but it was only this week that it was launched. A strong U.S. NFP, and the start of European QE, has proven too strong for even the weak retail sales hurdle to stop. The FOMC is the next obstacle facing the USD rally, and it will be up to Yellen to steer the direction of the currency.
Visit the MarketPulse Economic Calendar for more details and the full list of forex market moving events.
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