Currency markets will be focused on the outcome of the G20 summit of world leaders in Pittsburg to guide directional momentum. A leaked draft communiqué hinted policymakers were in no rush to withdraw fiscal stimulus, but concerns remain about what measures will be taken against risk-taking in the financial markets.
Key Overnight Developments
• NZ Annual Trade Deficit Shrinks as Imports Fall for Fifth Month
• Bank of Japan Says Recovery After Stimulus, Restocking is “Uncertain”
The Euro initially sold off but prices recovered late into the overnight session, adding much as 0.2% against the US Dollar. The British Pound continued to be sold, though prices recovered most of the drop in early trading that saw GBPUSD test as low as 1.5918, trading just below 1.60 ahead of the opening bell in Europe.
Asia Session Highlights
New Zealand’s annual Trade Balance deficit contracted to the narrowest in over six years, revealing a shortfall of –NZ$2.37 billion in August following a revised –NZ$2.49 billion result in the previous month as imports fell for the fifth straight month, shrinking -21.6% from a year before. The outcome speaks ill of domestic demand in the smaller antipodean nation, especially considering that the Kiwi Dollar has become considerably stronger over recent months, which should boost New Zealanders’ purchasing power of foreign goods and encourage imports. More of the same is likely going forward as unemployment continues to push higher, trimming incomes and discouraging spending. Indeed, a survey of economists conducted by Bloomberg forecasts the trade gap will shave just -6.6% on average off GDP this and next year, the smallest since 2004. To be fair, however, exchange rate movements take a long time to be reflected in trade figures, so it is possible that the currency’s recent gains may surface to widen the shortfall in the months ahead. The deficit grew –NZ$725 million from July, more than the –NZ$329 million expected, but monthly figures tend to be volatile and looking at annualized readings offers better gauge of trade flows’ direction.
Minutes from the August policy meeting of the Bank of Japan revealed that while policymakers agreed that “overseas economic conditions have stopped worsening,” but expressed concern that the pace and sustainability of recovery after the effects of fiscal stimulus and the inventory restocking cycle run their course “remained highly uncertain.” Members concurred that exports will probably continue to improve for the time being as overseas markets stabilize, but domestic consumption will remain weak as unemployment continues notwithstanding isolated policy-induced spikes in purchases of specific items such as cars and electrical appliances. On inflation, members concluded that year-on-year consumer price figures will remain weak largely because of the correction in high oil costs seen last year. On financial conditions, policymakers said that while funding access had improved for large firms, credit for small enterprises remained limited.
Euro Session: What to Expect
With little of importance on the economic calendar, currency markets will be focused on the outcome of the ongoing Group of 20 (G20) summit of world leaders going on in Pittsburg. Traders’ concerns are two-fold: first, there are worries that policymakers will take recent signs of economic stabilization to agree on a path to withdrawing fiscal stimulus measures, nipping the recovery in the bud; second, it remains unclear what, if anything, will be agreed upon regarding regulations of risk-taking in the financial markets. On the former point, a draft G20 communiqué leaked by Reuters contained language saying leaders will maintain expansionary policies until the global recovery is secured, alleviating at least some concern. Little is known on the latter point, however, and any actions that are perceived to be too strong (which, in fact, would be any kind of broad-based agreement considering the difficulty of building consensus in the G20) are likely to send capital feeing out of risky investments and into safety-correlated assets like the US Dollar and the Japanese Yen.