Forex Week in Review: April 16-21

It was a compact volatile trading week with the dollar hemorrhaging against all of its G10 trading partners and that includes Japan. With rate divergence influencing trade positions, this dollar bear market potentially still has ways to go. Some of the market moves have been exaggerated because of the lack of holiday liquidity, but, the dollars intention remains the same, and that is to underperform. The last dollar bear market between 1985 and 95 implies that the buck has ‘approximately-2% further to fall to match its depreciation at the same point in the bear cycle’.


  • Greek government denies press reports on restructuring.
  • Finnish elections saw an unexpectedly strong showing for the anti-EU True Finns party. The result could complicate negotiations over an EFSF package for Portugal and the mechanism for enlarging the EFSF.
  • Spain successfully auctioned their bills, but at a lower bid-to-cover than at the previous auction.
  • Euro-zone flash PMI’s surprised to the upside (57.7 vs. 57.5), showing little negative impact from the Japanese earthquake or higher oil prices.
  • German PMI manufacturing on hold at record highs (61.7).
  • Euro-zone services PMI moderated slightly from 57.2 in March to 56.9 in April, held down by a lower German print. The surveys continue to be consistent with very strong GDP growth at around 3% and supports expectations of additional ECB tightening, while at the same time reducing the expected impact of fiscal stress in the periphery.
  • Finnish Prime Minister-elect backs Portuguese EFSF, but suggested that the Portuguese program may require some changes to secure Finnish approval.
  • Riksbank hiked +25bp to +1.75% and revised CPI forecast higher.
  • Spain sold €2.4b of 2021 bonds and €885.2m of 2024 paper to strong demand, supporting market expectations of the sovereign’s ability to weather its maturity schedule without resorting to EFSF funding.
  • BoE April Minutes showed an unchanged voting pattern. Six members voted for leaving rates unchanged and three members voted for a rate hike. The sentence, indicating that some members from the dovish camp saw the case for rate hikes strengthening has been removed.
  • Greek inverted 2/10’s yield curve spread reaches fresh extremes-1,244bp
  • A soft German Ifo print for April (110.4 vs. 111.1). The level continues to point to very solid growth.
  • UK Retail sales surprised to the upside with a +0.2%, m/m, gain in March (ex-petrol). In real terms, sales are flat on the quarter and rising only +1.0%, q/q in nominal terms due to the VAT hike in January. No real reason to hike rates any time soon.
  • M3 and mortgage growth remained steady in Switzerland. M3 growth moderated slightly to +7.1%, y/y, while mortgages grew at +4.5%, y/y. This is should not impose any pressure on the SNB to consider policy tightening.


  • S&P cut the US long-term credit outlook. “The US government risks losing its AAA credit rating unless policy makers agree on a plan by 2013 to reduce budget deficits and the national debt”.
  • March US headline housing starts (+7.2% or 0.55m) bounced back from February’s very low levels (-18.5%), but the details suggests the US housing sector remains very weak. Building permits have climbed +11.2%, m/m, to an annual rate of +594k. However, year-over-year, overall new home construction was down -13.4%.
  • Canadian inflation data beat all analysts expectations, marking the biggest monthly headline gain in 20-years (+1.1% vs. +0.3%) and the largest annual advance in nearly three-years (+3.3%). It puts the Governor on the back foot to hike in July.
  • Canadian leading index rose faster than expected last month (+0.8% vs. +0.5%), it’s sixth consecutive gain, led by increases in the stock market (+2.2%) and housing index (+2.2%).
  • US Sales of existing homes rose slightly last month (+3.7% to a seasonally adjusted +5.10m), but prices remain weak. The median sales price for an existing home was $159k, down -5.9% from the revised year-ago median.
  • Canadian retail sales posted its first positive print in both nominal and real terms in February, providing a lift to February GDP growth. Headline retail sales rose at a slightly slower pace than expected in February, up 0.4% m/m versus expectations of a 0.5% m/m gain, while core sales accelerated by 0.7% m/m as auto sales dipped for a third consecutive month.
  • US initial jobless claims fell less than expected last week, remaining above 400,000 for the second consecutive week. Both the extended benefits and emergency unemployment compensation benefits experienced declines.
  • Philly Fed’s Business Outlook Survey plunged from +43.4 to +18.5


  • PBoC hikes reserve requirements another +50bp, for a cumulative +450bp of hikes since the cycle began. Market now expects the PBoC to hike the RRR another +150-250bp and the lending/deposit rates a further +135bp/150bp.
  • NZD has sold off after proving resilient to last week’s carry-trade correction, the catalyst being weaker-than-expected CPI inflation of +0.8%.
  • PBoC governor Zhou stated that China’s central bank FX reserves, which rose about +$200b into +$3trn in the first quarter, had exceeded a reasonable level and may have led to excessive liquidity and had exerted significant sterilization pressure.
  • It’s rumored that the Aussie government is considering tax breaks on foreign sovereign investments in Australia, a good enough reason to want to own the highest yield G10 currency.
  • Australia witnessed a stronger terms-of-trade, where export prices rose +5.2% and import prices rose +1.4%, q/q, pushing the terms-of-trade close to their 2008 and 2010 highs. This will give the RBA a good enough reason to want to raise interest rates (+4.75%).


  • Another holiday shortened week, with the Fed, RBNZ and BoJ rate decisions, expect Bernanke’s first post-FOMC Press conference to dominate
  • US gives us home-sales, consumer confidence, durable goods and the usual weekly claims
  • Australia releases it’s inflation data and the UK its growth numbers.

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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