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Daily FX Commentary and
FX trade strategies.
FX Consultant / IFXA Ltd
· GDP misses, Durable Goods Orders mixed, US dollar doesn’t care
· Chinese New Year will lead to subdued Asian trading next week
· President Trump is the ringmaster of the White House circus
By Michael O’Neill
It may seem sacrilegious to suggest that next week’s US data and Federal Open Market committee meeting just don’t matter to FX markets, but they don’t.
President Donald Trump has usurped the center ring of the financial market circus from the FOMC and he will not be relinquishing it any time soon. It is easy to draw parallels between today’s White House and his reality series, “The Apprentice”
For starters, both featured lines of people hoping to curry favour with the new “boss”.
The Apprentice selected contestants from a long line of hopefuls competing to win the grand prize of a contract to work for one of Trump’s companies. There were long lines of people hoping to become a contestant.
The White House under president Trump has taken that premise to another level. There are long lines of career politicians vying for a meeting and/or a phone call from the new leader of the free world.
It is hard to forget the photo of a groveling Mitt Romney dining with president-elect Trump. At the time, the secretary of state post was up for grabs. Romney was not a fan of Donald Trump. He called him dangerous, mocked his business acumen, and said his views on ISIS and Assad were ridiculous. He said that when it came to foreign policy, Donald Trump wasn’t smart.
However, the lure of black SUV convoys complete with lights and sirens, a secret service protection detail, and the power that comes with the title of secretary of state were so alluring that Mitt Romney changed his tune after the dinner. In fact, CBS news described his words as “effusive praise for president-elect Donald Trump”.
There is no evidence that that Trump ever said the words “you’re fired”, but Romney hasn’t been seen since.
"Bad idea, folks. The worst. Many say so!" Photo: Shutterstock
World leaders are hoping to curry favour with the new president. Witness, for example, UK prime minister Theresa May’s fawning speech to the Republican party in Philadelphia on January 26. Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are also in queue, awaiting their opportunity to pay homage.
Mexican president Enrique Nieto has already been "fired” and Chinese president Xi Jinping is in the crosshairs.
That kind of geopolitical drama shoves this week’s FOMC meeting to the bottom of the pile of financial market concerns. Friday’s US Q4 GDP print of 1.9% was a tad below expectations as was the Durable Goods report. Today’s data won’t do anything to change the FOMC outlook.
The Fed just hiked rates in December while bumping up the dot plot forecast and not enough time has passed to cause any adjustments to their view.
The week that will be
Buckle up! FX markets may be in for a wild ride. This week is chock full of major data releases and three major central bank meetings. Liquidity will take a hit, especially in Asia due to the Chinese New Year’s holidays and then there is President Trump. The best laid trades of mice and men can be laid to waste with a single tweet from @realDonaldTrump.
Monday, a large swath of Asian markets may be missing from action. New Zealand trade data and Japan retail trade reports will provide trading fodder for NZDUSD and USDJPY. That, in turn, will set the stage for a lively European session due to a host of data from Germany and the Eurozone. US data releases include Personal Income and Expenditures, but these should not be real factors.
Tuesday’s focus will be on the Bank of Japan policy decision and outlook report. Eurozone GDP data will headline a slew of reports from Europe and the UK.
Wednesday starts with China PMI data with Eurozone and US PMI data following. FX reactions to these reports may be overshadowed by the FOMC meeting. Traders expecting fireworks from the statement will likely be disappointed. The committee members will need to see how Trump’s executive actions impact the economy.
Thursday’s FX session will be all about the Bank of England interest rate decision and Quarterly Inflation Report. A modestly hawkish report could ignite another round of GBPUSD short covering and hang a target on 1.3000.
Friday finishes the week with a slew of data releases in the US that will largely be ignored because the FOMC meeting just passed.
The week that was:
President Trump was expected to be the focus of FX markets this week and he certainly didn’t disappoint.
Monday, Asia started by unwinding Friday’s EUR and USD rally. The lack of any hard details in president Trump’s inaugural speech led to US dollar selling.
Sterling caught a bit of an extra bid ahead of Tuesday’s UK Supreme court decision to decide if the government needed parliamentary approval for Brexit. Trump formally withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
That news, combined with a headline about Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin warning that an excessively strong dollar was negative in the short-term, drove the US dollar down across the board by the end of the New York session.
Tuesday, Asia continued to sell US dollars. USDJPY dropped to the overnight low of 112.53 and EURUSD climbed from 1.0740 to 1.0773. The greenback recouped most of the losses during the European session.
The UK supreme court ruled that the government needed a parliamentary vote to trigger Brexit. GBPUSD traded erratically in a 1.2435-1.2535 range around the news and finally settled in at 1.2435 when New York started.
The day ended with Trump signing an executive order to revive the Keystone XL pipeline which had been cancelled by former president Obama. The Canadian dollar and equity indices had a good day and were higher at the close.
Wednesday, AUDUSD got hammered in early Asia trading following the release of a weaker than expected inflation report. However, the initial losses were fully recovered when New York started trading. Better-than-expected Japanese trade data undermined USDJPY, but only briefly.
Sterling climbed in a continuation of the previous day’s short squeeze and encouraged by the better visibility around the UK’s Brexit plans.
A sort of clarity. Photo: Shutterstock
Trump had traders on edge after he tweeted “Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY… among other things we will build the wall”. Wall Street was not concerned. The Dow Jones Industrial Average cracked 20,000. Sterling continued to move higher and closed in New York at 1.2635. The US dollar finished the day on the losing side of the equation (except against CHF) as US data releases were trumped by Trump.
On Thursday, bearish dollar sentiment was evident in Asia although trading was a little subdued due to the Australia Day holiday. A higher-than-expected inflation report lifted NZDUSD.
The bearish dollar sentiment turned to bullish when the European day started. Rising long-term bond yields and equity prices led to renewed US dollar buying. The sterling rally finally came to an end, helped by an EU official’s warning that Britain would notice a more pronounced impact from Brexit in 2017 and 2018.
The New York session was a tad whippy on the back of rising protectionist fears. The plans for a wall between Mexico and the US led to the Mexican president cancelling his meeting with Trump. The White House press secretary said later that president Trump planned to implement a 20% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico.
At the end of the day, UK PM Theresa May addressed the Republican party in Philadelphia. She appeared to be trying to curry favour by reminding the politicians of the UK and US’ long-standing ties.
Friday, a miss in US Q4 GDP data and an as-expected Core Durable Goods report created a minor stir and then was quickly forgotten.
— Edited by Michael McKenna
FX Consultant / IFXA Ltd
· Donald Trump’s presidency ushers in a new "haira"
· Next week’s second-tier data will be overshadowed by the White House
· USDCAD languishes in broad trading band
This US administration will look like none that’s gone before. Images: iStock
By Michael O’Neill
Wednesday’s Bank of Canada policy meeting and Monetary Policy Report release was not expected to provide any drama. In fact, some pundits suggested that they wouldn’t have even have had a meeting if it hadn’t already been scheduled.
For the most part, the BoC policy statement and the MPR lived up to the advance billing. They left rates unchanged and seemed mildly optimistic that inflation would move closer to their 2% target in the coming months. The MPR saw a tick higher in domestic and global growth projections. That was about it. A true non-event.
Then came the press conference. A question about interest rates got this answer from the BoC governor; “Yes, a rate cut remains on the table”. The scream from USDCAD bear’s being eviscerated, drowned out governor Stephen Poloz’s smug “gotcha”.
Friday’s release of inflation data seems to have validated Poloz’s concern about inflation and the risks to domestic economic growth. CPI data was disappointing. (All items, December Actual 1.5% vs. forecast 1.7%) as were November Retail Sales.
Despite all the drama in FX markets since the US election including Theresa May’s Brexit speech, Trump twitter bombs and of course, Poloz’s “gotcha”, the Loonie has been resilient.
USDCAD has been locked in a 1.3000–1.3600 trading range since September. Attempts to break either side of the range have failed miserably.
The intraday USDCAD technicals are bullish while prices are above 1.3310 supported by the move above 1.3240, the 38.2% retracement of the December-January range. The rally has stalled at 1.3375, the 61.8% Fibonacci range. A move below 1.3310 will lead back to 1.3240 and possibly 1.3170. A break above 1.3375 hangs a target on 1.3460. The steepness of the rally suggests further 1.3240–1.3375 consolidation before another topside test.
Chart: USDCAD hourly with Fibonacci levels shown
Source: Saxo Bank
The week that will be
Welcome to the Donald J. Trump haira, I mean era. Trump has promised to get right to work on Day One with several actions, including; beginning work on the border wall, suspending immigration from terror-prone regions (Chicago? 762 murders in 2016), instituting a hiring freeze (which may be tough to do with reportedly 690 vacancies for positions needing Senate approval) and dismantling Obamacare.
But Trump won’t be the only show. There is some data risk at the end of the week when the US releases Durable Goods, Preliminary Q4 GDP and the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. It is also the start of earnings season for US corporations.
Elsewhere, Australia and New Zealand release CPI data on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
The European Central Bank policy decision and Mario Draghi’s press conference on January 19 will diminish the importance of the 2nd tier Eurozone data that gets released over the course of the week.
That won’t be the case in Great Britain. UK Q4 GDP data could cause some fireworks if it disappoints.
The week will end with Asian markets looking forward to Chinese New Year and all the festivities.
The week that was
Donald Trump’s is a tough act to upstage at the best of times and in this week, in the run-up to his inauguration, it was still the case. Sure, the UK prime minister and the president of the European Central Bank had a turn in the spotlight but they faded from prominence faster than a bag of munchies at a Grateful Dead concert.
Monday, Asia traders read the UK Sunday Telegraph’s report that prime minister May would seek a “hard” Brexit and give the details in her speech on Tuesday. The article was prescient. GBPUSD gapped lower dropping from 1.2290 at Friday’s close to a low of 1.2018.
That set the tone for the rest of G10 FX and G10 currencies played defence for the rest of the day. New York was closed for Martin Luther King Day.
Tuesday, A Trump tweet about the dollar being too strong against the Chines renminbi unsettled markets and the US dollar slid. USDJPY jumped on safe-haven demand. EURUSD rallied to 1.0719 from 1.0585.
British prime minister Theresa May confirmed the Sunday Telegraph story of a hard Brexit when she outlined a 12-point strategy for leaving the European Union. In a text-book example of “sell the rumour, buy the fact” GBPUSD rallied and recouped all of its Monday losses. It then added another 0.0200 points, for good measure. US dollar selling continued until New York went home.
Wednesday’s Asia session was a tad subdued with traders awaiting US CPI data. GBPUSD retreated from its opening level of 1.2416 and dropped to 1.2309 by the New York open. Aussie and Kiwi followed suit. USDJPY got a bit of a bump ahead of the US inflation report.
US CPI and other data releases were strong giving additional support to the greenback. The Bank of Canada interest rate statement and monetary policy report was as expected and a non-event. The real event occurred 90 minutes later during governor Poloz’s press conference. He answered a question about interest rates with “Yes rate cuts are on the table” USDCAD soared and hasn’t looked back since.
Fed chair Janet Yellen trumped (no, not that one) the BoC governor’s comment when she told an audience in San Francisco that the federal funds rate would be close to 3% by the end of 2019. Hmmm, the dove speaks with hawk tongue.
Thursday, the Asia and the morning European FX session was quiet. Traders were still digesting Wednesday’s US dollar moves and were wary ahead of the ECB meeting. Another round of steady to strong US data combined with what was perceived to be a dovish Mario Draghi press conference led to US dollar buying across the board. However, in a rather weird move, the dollar rally started to unravel near the end of the European session and by the end of the New York session, the dollar was virtually unchanged against the G10 currency bloc.
Friday, the US dollar declined in Asia, rallied in Europe and opened in New York a tad higher than it was at Thursday’s close.
– Edited by Clare MacCarthy
FX Consultant / IFXA Ltd
· US Retail Sales and PPI data close enough to expectations not to matter
· Theresa May’s Brexit speech on January17 could convert the pound into ounces
· ECB and BoC meetings will be quickly forgotten
All eyes on Tuesday will be on London and specifically, Theresa May. Photo: iStock
By Michael O’Neill
The term “vapourware” was coined by a Microsoft engineer in 1982. It evolved to encompass all computer hardware or software products that are announced to the general public but do not really exist.
Vapourware (or in FX terms, vapour trade) accurately describes the USD dollar move since the election. President-elect Donald Trump’s election platform contained provisions for a trillion dollar infrastructure spending programme, tax cuts and trade protectionism. Traders reacted to his win by driving bond yields higher, pushing equity indices to record highs and aggressively buying US dollars.
Chart: US dollar performance since election
Source: Saxo Bank/IFXA
Those trades were vapour trades. Nothing he said, promised or even hinted at exists.
Does anyone remember Ovation Technologies? This software company promised to deliver a suite of word processing products in 1983, attracting $7 million in investment. That money evaporated along with the company and there is little evidence to prove the product actually existed.
Another vapourware developer was Infinium Labs. It promised that its new gaming console, Phantom, would outperform the X-box, Playstation2 and Game Cube. The console never saw the light of day and it is likely that it never existed at all. Bre-X anyone? How about Bernie Madoff?
The world is rife with examples of vapourware or just plain fraud.
The vapour trade was on full display this week. Traders bought US dollars ahead of Trump’s press conference on Wednesday, not because of any hard intelligence or data, but because someone, somewhere convinced them that the president-elect would provide hard details for his promised programmes.
He didn’t. Those bullish dollar trades disappeared quicker than a cold beer on a hot day.
Trump has made many promises during his campaign including these, as tabulated by the Washington Post. a) building a wall along the southern border and make Mexico pay for it; b) have the Environmental Protection Agency disappear c) rebuild the countries ageing infrastructure, d) aggressively challenge China’s power in the world e) replace free trade with “fair” trade.
For now, Trump’s promises are merely hot air, not hard policy.
The week ahead
Hillary who? The week ahead will be dominated by Trump and his inauguration on Friday and anticipation around UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tuesday press conference. How low will sterling go?
Monday is Martin Luther King Day in the US which will put a damper on FX trading.
The annual “Meet and Greet for the Ellite” kicks off in Davos, on Tuesday. At best the sound bites from Switzerland will be a distraction because, this year, in Washington, Trump is the show and he is no longer a presidential apprentice. UK CPI, Retail Sales, and PPI data are all due Tuesday but they are likely to overshadowed by politics, specifically, by May.
The Bank of Canada and European Central Bank hold policy meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. They are not expected to announce any policy changes, making them a non-event. The same day, Fed chair Janet Yellen delivers a speech “The goals of Monetary Policy and How We Pursue Them” which sounds absolutely riveting.
The week will end with a lot of important data from China, UK and Canada as well as another Yellen speech.
The week that was
There was a distinct lack of top tier data releases available this week which should have meant currencies would take relatively tame walkabouts, within fairly narrow ranges. That wasn’t the case.
Monday was a holiday in Japan and a whippy FX market everywhere else. In Asia, USDJPY opened with a bid after the previous Friday’s US nonfarm payrolls report appeared to affirm the three rate-hike scenario. It peaked at 117.52 as Europe started.
Sterling got beat up early, falling from 1.2270 in early Asia trading to 1.2122 just as New York started. That was because UK PM May hinted, in a weekend interview, that she would unleash her inner pitbull when the Brexit negotiations begin. The antipodeans gained with AUD rising on strong buildings data and Kiwi going along for the ride.
Whatever reasons that Asia and Europe had to buy US dollars weren’t apparent to New York traders and by the end of the day the dollar was weaker than where it had opened. Sterling was almost unchanged. Fed speakers suggesting a fast pace of rate hikes, were ignored.
Tuesday’s Asia session was a tad choppy and continued with the bearish dollar bias. Trading got a little more intense with the release of China CPI and PPI data just as Europe was starting its day. EURUSD drifted lower and found a bottom at 1.0558 when New York came to work.
A brief flurry of activity took it back to 1.0605 but nervousness ahead of president-elect Trump’s Wednesday press conference weighed on the single currency. Trump press conference concerns dominated the New York session as well, and the dollar finished the day with a mixed tone against the majors.
Oil sprang a leak. WTI dropped from $52.36/barrel to $50.69/b. Questions (but no facts) as to production cut compliance by Opec had traders whacking bids.
Wednesday’s Asia and European sessions were pretty quiet. The US dollar gained against EUR, JPY, GBP and CHF while the antipodeans managed to squeeze out small gains. GBPUSD was drifting lower in Asia, still suffering the effects from renewed “hard Brexit” fears when a weaker-than-expected UK trade deficit report ignited additional selling.
Then there was the sound of trumpets. Actually, it was Trump. His highly anticipated press conference was entertaining but those looking for deep insight into his infrastructure spending plans, taxes or any other major issues were sorely disappointed. Traders took their unhappiness out on the dollar and the greenback got flayed. Oil prices dipped then soared, bolstered by the weak US dollar.
Thursday’s Asia session started the way New York’s Wednesday session ended. They sold dollars across the board. The antipodeans hit one-month highs and Asia stock markets rallied. Europe picked up where Asia left off and happily extend the dollar selling spree.
Sterling was feeling rather smug following Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s comments the day before that with regards to Brexit, that the EU had more to lose than the UK. GBPUSD had risen to 1.2315 from 1.2037 following Trumps press conference.
News that UK PM May would be delivering a major speech on Brexit on January 17, knocked the stiff out of the lip of sterling bulls.
GBPUSD plunged from 1.2287 to 1.2140 by day’s end. Oil prices rallied when Saudi Arabia reported larger production cuts than what had been expected. Various Fed speakers were mostly ignored as for the time being as it is Trump’s World.
Trumpets might sound like a Donald fan club, but in this case, it’s just a trumpet. Photo: iStock
— Edited by Martin O’Rourke
Michael O’Neill Loonieviews is live at Loonieviews.net | Tell your story. Use catchy text, bullets, links and more to bring your words to li
· USDCAD may be approaching a bottom
· Next week could end on a high depending on Yellen’s speech
· Rise in average hourly earnings takes the sting out of soft NFP
Could things be looking up for Canada’s loonie? Photo: iStock
By Michael O’Neill
The year is just six days old and already USDCAD traders are starting to question their beliefs, or more accurately their 2017 USDCAD outlook.
It is fair to say that that the consensus was for a rising US dollar supported by president-elect Donald Trump’s fiscal stimulative initiatives and the prospect that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates three times over the course of the year.
In that environment, the Canadian dollar would come under increasing pressure due to the dovish stance of the Bank of Canada, the risk of protectionist trade strategies being implemented by Donald Trump, and continued underperformance by the Canadian economy.
The rally in crude prices helped to limit Canadian dollar losses in the thin post-holiday markets. However, there is still a lot of scepticism about WTI’s ability to sustain price gains above $55/barrel while crude inventories remain at elevated levels, especially if the price point attracts new US production.
The Canadian dollar got an added boost on Friday when StatsCanada reported that employment rose by 54,000 (0.3%) in December, alongside a modestly improved Canadian trade report.
The impact from the domestic jobs report will soon be forgotten, however, in part because it is subject to large revisions.
For what its worth, the short-term USDCAD technicals argue that the current price action is merely a correction while prices remain above the 1.3150-90 support area. That area represents the uptrend line from May 2016 and prior intraday tops and bottoms.
A decisive move below 1.3150 could extend losses to 1.2747, the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level of the 2012-2016 range.
In my opinion, the current USDCAD move is merely a correction and a buying opportunity as long as prices remain above 1.3150.
USDCAD daily with Fibonacci and moving averages:
Source: Saxo Bank
The week ahead
FX markets may be a tad less erratic this week as there is a dearth of top-tier data releases incoming. Still, the year is young and just like last year, developments in China have unsettled global markets – although not even close to the extent of the turmoil that occurred in 2016.
Monday should be more subdued than usual as Japan is closed for a holiday. European traders may be busy with German trade data, the Eurozone unemployment rate, and UK house price numbers.
Tuesday could be interesting if Chinese data, including CPI and PPI, cause a stir. Australian retail sales will be the focus for AUDUSD traders.
Wednesday doesn’t have a whole lot going on. UK data will continue to take a back seat to Brexit concerns, unless it is really negative.
Thursday doesn’t look to be much more interesting but that could change depending upon the tone of speeches from Chicago Fed president Charles Evans and Philadelphia Fed president Patrick Harker.
Friday, Asia could have a lively session as Fed chair Janet Yellen is delivering a Thursday night speech to teachers in Washington which will be webcast.
If that turns out to be a snooze-fest, traders will have Chinese trade data, US retail sales data and Michigan consumer confidence data to contend with.
It just keeps coming… Photo: iStock
The week that was
It was a short week for many and an even shorter week for Australia and New Zealand traders. For others, mostly in Asia, it was just another work week.
Monday started very quietly due to the Antipodean holidays. A few European markets were open and a slew of Markit Manufacturing PMI data were released but for the most part it was overlooked due to the New Years holiday. Still EURUSD edged lower, dropping from 1.0506 to 1.0448 and people starting talking about Bitcoin again as the cryptocurrency cracked the $1,000 level.
On Tuesday, a large part of the world dragged themselves to work for the first time in 2017. Better-than-expected China Manufacturing PMI data led to a mini bout of risk-on sentiment in Asia. Aussie and kiwi rallied and EURUSD drifted higher. GBPUSD popped on upbeat PMI data, rising from 1.2245 to 1.2300. USDJPY climbed from 117.23 to 118.00 because of a bullish US interest rate bias.
And then New York came in, a little cranky and with an urge to buy dollars. By mid-morning EURUSD had traded at 1.0338, a 14-year low. USDJPY dropped from 118.60 to 117.20 and Sterling plunged from 1.2297 to 1.2199. Oil prices tanked. WTI dropped from $55.14 to $52.08. Part of that move was due to the rising dollar and part from news that Libya was increasing crude production.
Donald Trump was threatening a special tax on GM cars that would be built in Mexico. Despite the earlier noise, by the time the New York session ended, the US dollar was only modestly lower versus the majors, except for sterling.
Wednesday was a rather messy day. In Asia, USDJPY extended gains from New York, moving to 118.18 from 117.53, on the back of a rising. Nikkei and supported by an increase in US 10-year treasury yields. However, those gains were not sustained. USDJPY dipped to 117.35 by the time New York opened.
Aussie and Kiwi drifted higher in Asia and then accelerated in Europe following stronger-than-expected Eurozone data including CPI. The Peoples Bank of China started buying yuan as fears of capital controls had pushed USDCNY close to 7.00.
The Eurozone and UK data releases were on the strong side, which undermined the US dollar, and PMI data in both areas were stronger than expected and the jump in Eurozone CPI was viewed positively, at least for that day. EURUSD climbed from 1.0388 to 1.0445 before sliding to 1.0428 as New York opened. Sterling traded in a similar fashion, rising from 1.2222 to 1.2288 and then slipping to 1.2260.
Dollar on the ropes
The dollar was on the defensive throughout the New York session and finished the day down across the board. The Federal Open Market Committee minutes were released and were both hawkish or dovish, depending upon the pundit.
Thursday’s Asia session was a continuation of the New York moves. USDJPY dropped to 115.56. The PBoC was back in buying CNY and CNH. The antipodeans and the Loonie traded higher. EURUSD rose from 1.0478 to 1.0575. However, Europe didn’t appear to see things the same way Asia did.
EURUSD got smacked down to 1.0480 by the time New York traders got started. GBPUSD, which had peaked at 1.2363, bottomed out at 1.2275 by mid-morning in the Big Apple.
And then it got worse. The US dollar melted down. It might have been disappointment in the ADP employment report. It could have been increased nervousness from the PBoC intervention in CNY for the second time in the week or just a squeeze of long dollar positions in relatively thin markets.
More than likely, all the above played a role in the dollar’s demise.
Has Icarus landed for good? Photo: iStock
The selling was broad-based. EURUSD rallied from 1.0483 to 1.0616, GBPUSD climbed from 1.2275 to 1.2432 and USDJPY dropped to 115.05 from 116.80. The commodity currency bloc performed in a similar fashion.
Friday, Asia and European sessions were quiet compared to the moves in the previous two days while traders awaited the US employment data. A big jump in average hourly earnings took the sting out of a disappointing headline nonfarm payrolls report.
— Edited by Michael McKenna