US Dollar: Optimistic Economic Outlooks to Meet Hard Facts This Week
Fundamental Outlook for US Dollar: Bullish
– The Federal Reserve left rates unchanged, but signaled a more optimistic outlook
– University of Michigan consumer confidence jumped to a 21-month high in September
– US durable goods orders tumbled 2.4% in August, marking the steepest drop since January
The US dollar ended the past week marginally higher after the Federal Reserve issued a more optimistic outlook on the economy. In the coming week, though, there will be a variety of growth indicators on hand that may help to signal whether the US recession really ended in Q2. That said, the US dollar index will have to contend with resistance just above 77.00 at the start of the week, but a break above there will likely coincide with a EURUSD drop below 1.4615.
Looking to the upcoming event risk, on Tuesday, the September reading of the Conference Board’s measure of US consumer confidence is expected to rise up to a one-year high of 57 from 54.1 in August, but overall, there are some upside risks for this report. Indeed, the final reading of the University of Michigan’s consumer confidence index show that sentiment improved greatly in September, with the index hitting a 21-month high of 73.5 from 65.7.
On Wednesday, the third round of US Q2 GDP estimates is due to hit the wires, but the results will only be market-moving if we see surprising revisions. The final reading is forecasted to be revised down to -1.2 percent from -1.0 percent, though this would still represent a sharp improvement from Q1, when GDP plunged 6.4 percent. Readings in line with expectations may not have a very big impact on price action, but better-than-anticipated results could lead carry trades higher, especially in light of speculation that the recession may have ended in Q2.
On Thursday, the ISM manufacturing index is projected to rise for the ninth straight month in September to 54 from 52.9, which would be the highest reading since April 2006. With 50 being the point of neutrality, this would also be the second month that the index signals an expansion in activity, adding to evidence that the sector is experiencing a recovery in business activity. The last release didn’t have much of an impact on the US dollar, as risk aversion dominated the day, leading the currency higher. However, the report will still be useful because of its employment component as a leading indicator for the big news on Friday: US non-farm payrolls.
The US non-farm payrolls (NFPs) index is forecasted to show job losses for the 21st straight month in September, though the rate of decline is anticipated to slow further. At the time of writing, Bloomberg News was calling for NFPs to decline by 187,000, which would be the smallest drop since August 2008. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is projected to edge up to 9.8 percent from 9.7 percent, but ultimately, the NFP result will be the event to watch as it is extremely volatile and is one of the sole reports that impacts the US dollar from a pure fundamental point of view. A better-than-anticipated result is likely to provide a boost to the US dollar, but it will be interesting to see the impact of disappointing results as weak US data tends to weigh on risky assets and push the greenback higher amidst flight-to-quality.
Euro Shows Early Signs of Reversal – Week Ahead Critical to Trends
Fundamental Forecast for Euro: Neutral
– Euro breaks key technical short-term trendline
– Candlesticks likewise point to a potential Euro reversal
– German IFO improves for sixth month
– Risk trends remain most important EURUSD driver
The Euro showed early signs of technical reversal through an eventful week of trading, setting fresh yearly peaks versus the US Dollar yet finishing lower through Friday’s close. Strong rallies in the US S&P 500 and other key risk barometers led the single currency to impressive highs against most major counterparts. Yet a late-week breakdown in risk sentiment sparked a flight to safety across forex markets—much to the Euro’s detriment. Near-term Euro forecasts will very much depend on the trajectory of said asset classes, and a busy global economic calendar promises no shortage of volatility through the week ahead.
The Euro remains in fairly well-defined 6-month uptrend, and we would hardly argue that several days of declines signal that it has set a major top. Yet it is undeniable that the EUR/USD lost much of its short-term momentum—having broken below short-term technical support and threatening further declines. Fundamentals will likely play a fairly significant role in the days ahead as the combination of German and US Employment figures will shed a great deal of light on economic conditions in both key countries. The reports may confirm recent waves of economic optimism or cut celebrations short. Reasonably steady improvements in fundamental data have made for lofty market forecasts across most economic releases, and a string of disappointments could easily force noteworthy corrections across major financial markets.
Early-week German Consumer Price Index numbers and Euro Zone Consumer Confidence figures could produce surprises, but most traders look forward to market-moving German Unemployment Change figures due Wednesday. Previous results showed unemployment actually fell for the second consecutive month through August, but the numbers were clouded by government stimulus payments inducing firms to keep workers on their payrolls. Forecasts for September results call for a far less sanguine 20k jump in unemployment. Given that Germany is largely considered the bellwether for the broader Euro Zone economy, any disappointments could led to a noteworthy correction in the Euro exchange rate.
Friday’s US Nonfarm payrolls result could likewise have a pronounced effect on Euro pairs. US and European markets have proven especially sensitive to major surprises in the monthly payrolls number. Consensus forecasts call for the eighth-consecutive improvement in the jobs release, and any disappointments could clearly make a dent in broader forecasts for growth out of the world’s largest economy.
The critical question remains whether we can expect further equity market gains. Much like the Euro, the S&P 500 showed early signs of reversal through late-week trade. A continuation of said tumbles could easily force the Euro to move in kind.
Japanese Yen Momentum a Combination of Risk, Intervention and Data
Fundamental Forecast for Japanese Yen: Bullish
– Finance Minister Fujji reiterates his opposition to FX intervention
– Policy officials start reining in the stimulus that has supported the most aggressive rally in decades
– Exports shrink 36 percent in the year through August, exacerbated by sharp appreciation of the yen
The Japanese yen was the biggest mover and gainer amongst the majors this past week – by a long shot. However, we can’t idly attribute this appreciation to risk appetite alone. Indeed, we can see while other risk sensitive assets (equities, bonds funds, commodities, high-yield currencies) have pulled back over the same period; they certainly didn’t do so with the same gusto as the yen. Underlying sentiment no doubt prompted the trend; but early signs of policy withdrawal and confirmation from the new Japanese Finance Minister suggesting the days of FX intervention has passed provided the fuel for momentum. Will the market maintain its bearing and pace? That will depend on three dominant factors: interpretation of the G-20 commitments; weighing the fair value of the yen; and the outlook for the domestic recovery.
While the first concern is related to the G-20 meeting and commitments that were announced this past week, the fundamental relation to the yen is risk appetite. In the six-month rally from anything and everything that can bear a yield above the risk-free assets that traders took shelter in during the worst of the crisis, we have seen an early upsurge in demand for return and an elemental redistribution of capital. There have certainly been earlier adopters to the market reversal and those lured in by the steady capital gains; but most of the inflow of wealth is simply coming from the market sidelines and is seeking an investment with stability and steady returns. It wouldn’t take much to spark fear of a reversal and catalyze a wave of profit taking; but it is the money that is flowing back in for the long haul that will decide the larger trend. Both these short-term and long-term dynamics can be impacted by the G-20’s joint statement and individual government’s efforts going forward. The impressive recovery in market levels this past year is in large part due to the guarantees, liquidity injections and bailouts by the world’s policy makers. It is unclear whether speculator confidence in the balance of risk and reward will be anywhere as strong as it has been without the government safety net. However, with German and the US cutting down its programs last week while the global call for ‘exit strategies’ grows to a roar; we may well be testing those waters soon.
It is generally true that the majors are free-floating currencies and economics indeed sets exchange rates; but perfection only exists in academic theory. In reality, the Japanese yen has carried the burden for potential intervention from the Bank of Japan for years. As a major export nation, the former DPJ administration considered a ‘weak yen’ policy essential to economic stability. However, regimes have changed and new LDP Finance Minister Fujii has explicitly said that the currency should reflect economics. The first time, the policy makers made this statement the week before last, the yen responded with a sharp appreciation. With a reiteration of the same this past week (despite the yen being at relative highs), the currency moved on to another leg of its rally. How much pressure has been priced in due to intervention fears? Only time will tell. What’s more, how will the economy handle this steady appreciation? Domestic demand has long been lacking for Japan.
And, so we round out the story with more domestic considerations. As the currency appreciations, a critical artery of growth is slowly pinched off. In line with the G-20’s commitment to balance savings, domestic demand and trade; Japan will have to compensate for the potential loss in exports with domestic demand at a critical time for the economy. In the midst of a fragile recovery, we will now low to key economic data due over the coming week to see if Japan can lift itself out of its worst recession on record. The 3Q Tankan surveys, industrial production, employment, household spending, housing activity and inflation will offer a thorough assessment.
British Pound Losing its Risk Appeal as Conditions Deteriorate
Fundamental Forecast for British Pound: Bearish
– BoE Mervyn King says the weak pound “will be helpful” in supporting a feeble recovery
– Upcoming spending cuts and speculation of a cut in the deposit rate means the BoE is running out of options
– The Bank of England minutes show a unanimous vote to keep the bond purchasing program at 175 billion pounds
Some of the major currencies are showing strength against some pairs and weakness against others – a sign of underlying currents like risk appetite. However, the British pound was down across the board this past week, and in dramatic fashion. Prominent breakouts are starting to look the establishment of new trends as the struggling fundamental health of the United Kingdom begins to override the appeal the currency once held as a source for high yields. The next few weeks will be critical in establishing where the pound will head, and more importantly, where it fits in the market.
There is no doubt that risk trends will have an impact on what kind of direction and pace the British currency takes. However, it will likely start to be more of a one sided influence. Should risk tumble in the wake of the G-20 meeting as investors worry the capital markets can’t support their own weight without a government safety net, the pound will likely tumble. There is still a latent build up of risk appetite behind this currency that was fed by the belief that the recovery in the global economy and markets would be exceptionally beneficial for the United Kingdom which is generally considered to be the industrialized nation in the worst shape. As the outlook for a speedy recovery and fades, so too does the picture of London retaking its title of financial center of the world. Yet, what happens should sentiment actually improve? Even then, the pound will likely lag or even fade despite the positive turn.
Over the past weeks and months, it has become blatantly clear that Europe’s second largest economy is struggling to pull itself out of its deep recession; and the time frame for a return to growth is being continuously pushed back. Not only did the 2Q GDP numbers tell us that the slump was more intense than initially though; but we have also seen that policy officials are running out of options to support an orderly recovery. This past week, the minutes seemed to have a positive tilt in that there was a unanimous vote to keep the bond purchasing program at 175 billion pounds (whereas in the previous vote, the was minority dissention headed by Governor Mervyn King for a greater amount). Nonetheless, the central bank kept open the possibility of further expansion of this unorthodox policy. Another step that was speculated to under consideration was a cut to the deposit rate paid to banks that hold their capital with the BoE. This too was written off; but commentary by King and other MPC members continues to stoke speculation that either or both is still a considerable possibility. Without doubt, the central bank is running out of options to jump start the economy. The further the policy authority extends itself without a commensurate response from financial health or economic activity, the more dire the nation’s condition. Considering the government will have to follow through on a serious round of spending cuts in the near future (expected to be the biggest reduction in over three decades), time is certainly working against policy officials.
In the grand scheme of things, economic data is vital at this point; but a meaningful improvement in the outlook will come with time and a wide array of indicators. Nonetheless, there are a slew of indicators to account for next week – and perhaps even a few of them could help jump start optimism. Most prominent, but least likely to surprise, is the final reading of the 2Q GDP numbers. There is rarely a meaningful adjustment in this last recalculation of the data; but the new current account numbers, some spending adjustments or capital investment alterations would be notable. Among the other notable figures, mortgage approvals, net consumer credit and the money supply are important gauges for financial health. The BoE home equity withdrawal figure and PMI factory and construction data is growth focused.
Written by Terri Belkas, David Rodriguez, John Kicklighter, Ilya Spivak, John Rivera and David Song, Currency Analysts
Article Source – Forex Weekly Trading Forecast – 09.28.09