Overview: The US dollar's sharp upside momentum stalled yesterday near JPY115 and after the euro met (and surpassed) a key retracement level slightly below $1.1300. Led by the Antipodean currencies today, the greenback is mostly trading with a heavier bias. Among the majors, helped by a steadying of US yields, the yen is soft. In the emerging market space, the Turkish lira continues its headlong plunge while the yuan softened and the Mexican peso is off. Hungary's central bank surprised with a 70 bp hike in the one-week deposit rate. The JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index is posting a small gain through the European morning. Disappointing tech results in China (Baidu and Bilibili) weighed on Chinese shares, but most markets in the region fell but Australia and Taiwan. Europe's Stoxx 600 is struggling to extend the six-day advance. US futures are also a little firmer. After yesterday's four basis point pullback, the US 10-year yield is little changed near 1.58%. European yields are 1-2 bp lower. Gold remains within Tuesday's range (~$1850-$1877), but the moment seen earlier last week has faded, and the yellow metal is trading choppily in a consolidative phase. The prospect of a coordinated sale of oil after China's announced it would tap its reserves for the second time saw the January WTI contract fall to $76.45, its lowest level since early October. Still, the price has stabilized in the European morning around $77 a barrel. The benchmark European natural gas contract (Netherlands) has extended yesterday's pullback. It settled a little below 75 euros last week, and after two days of declines, it is above 92 euros. Iron ore is also falling for a second session and is now lower on the week. Note that it settled October a little above $104 and is now around $86.40. Copper is lower for the fourth consecutive session. It is trading around $424, off $20.5 this week.
Japan is expected to unveil the much-awaited supplemental budget tomorrow. Prime Minister Kishida will get one bite of the proverbial apple, and he is expected to go big. Talk of the size of the overall package has risen in recent days. The Nikkei seemed to suggest a JPY79 trillion (~$690 bln) effort, while others report something on the magnitude of JPY56 trillion. Still, it is recognized that part of the budget will include funds that were earmarked under previous budgets, which have not been spent. The clear water is seen around JPY32 trillion. Japan is one of the few countries that will provide new fiscal support.
New Zealand's central bank meets next week. It is widely expected to hike rates for the second time in the cycle. The swaps market has 200 bp of tightening priced in for the next 12 months. The cash rate stands at 50 bp. Earlier today, the central bank reported that the two-year inflation expectations (business survey) rose to 2.96% in Q4 from 2.27% in Q3. It is the highest in a decade. The one-year expectation rose to 3.7% from 3.02%. Still, with other countries slower to raise rates, a 50 bp move may not be necessary. The Kiwi rose almost 4% last month and has given back nearly half so far in November. Separately, the Philippines and Indonesia central banks met and left rates steady as expected.
The dollar posted a key reversal against the yen yesterday. It made a new high for the move, a few pips below JPY115.00, and proceeded to sell-off and close (slightly) below Tuesday's low. However, follow-through selling has been limited, and the greenback is trading firmly but may be absorbing sales related to the $1.34 bln in options in the JPY114.20-JPY114.25 area that expire today. The Australian dollar initially extended its losses to almost $0.7250, where a A$575 mln option expires today. However, since early in the Asian session, it has posted corrective upticks and looks set to challenge yesterday's high and five-day moving average a little above $0.7300. The Chinese yuan appears to have begun consolidating. It remains in the range set on Tuesday that saw the dollar trade roughly between CNY6.3670 and CNY6.3965. The small gain is the third this week. The PBOC fix was at CNY6.3803, a bit firmer compared with expectations (CNY6.3786 in the Bloomberg survey) than seen recently. Note that there is a $1 bln option at CNY6.3830 that expires today.
The auto industry in Europe remained under pressure last month, though the US reported its first increase in sales in six months. New car registration in Europe, including the UK, is a proxy for sales. They tumbled by slightly more than 30% year-over-year in October. This is considerably weaker than expected and is the poorest since May 2020. The shortage of semiconductors is the likely culprit, and there are some signs of improvement.
The EC will propose modest tweaks in rules about how funds outside of its borders (UK) can be managed while avoiding more dramatic changes. Draft proposals call for at least two full-time senior managers in the EU and for regulators to be notified when most of their assets are managed outside the EU. These seem quite minor and unlikely to disrupt the UK fund business. Earlier this month, the EU Commissioner for Financial Services indicated that temporary waivers would be granted to allow EU banks and money managers to clear trades in the UK. Meanwhile, the dispute over fishing appears to be worsening (Denmark complaining, not just France), and the UK continues to threaten to invoke Article 16. Former Prime Minister Blair says he will propose a solution to the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol in the coming days.
Hungary delivered a 30 bp hike in the base rate earlier this week, which now stands at 2.10%. It warned that it could make a separate decision on its one-week deposit rate. It did so today, hiking it 70 bp to 2.50%. It is a hawkish move that sent the forint higher. Separately, as widely expected, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey cut the one-week repo rate 100 bps to 15%. As a result, the lira is weaker for the eighth consecutive session. The lira's weakness not only fuels inflation but also will challenge companies and banks with foreign exchange exposure. The dollar finished last month near TRY9.60 and after the rate hike, pushed above TRY10.97 before stabilizing.
The euro overshot the (61.8%) retracement target of the rally that took it from near $1.0640 in March 2020 to high on January 6, around $1.2350. That retracement target was about $1.1290, and the euro fell to around $1.1265 yesterday. It recovered to new session highs early in North America yesterday (~$1.1330), leaving bullish hammer candlestick, and follow-through buying lifted it to $1.1345 today. The combination of higher inflation and stronger retail sales this week have helped sterling to recover. It had traded near $1.3350 at the end of last week and has barely traded below $1.34 this week. Indeed, sterling is rising today for the fifth consecutive session, the longest advance in nearly seven months. It poked above $1.35, where an option for about GBP345 mln will expire today. A convincing move above $1.3515 could signal another cent advance. The euro slipped to below GBP0.8385 today before recovering. It is testing the GBP0.8400, which holds options for 1.1 bln euros that also expires today.
Leave aside the gaffes by President Biden over Taiwan. Bloomberg counts four such verbal blunders that have required official walk back or explanation or clarification. Reports indicate that Biden probed Xi about oil sales. China has intervened in the commodities (industrial metals) and crude oil market recently. Today it indicated it will provide more oil from its strategic reserves. The September is action 7.1 mln barrels, according to reports, and privately sold more. It is unclear whether today's sales were planned or grew out of the "virtual summit." Still, it puts the ball back into the US court. If the US does not sell or lend oil from its strategic reserves, it will look bad after China's move. On the other hand, its own agency (EIA) projects that it may not be needed as oil will be in oversupply shortly. Moreover, the pain for consumers is coming from gasoline prices, not oil per se. Drawing down strategic reserves may not help the gasoline market. Apparently, Japan has been approached by the US about coordinating the release of oil, though Europe was not.
The US reports weekly initial jobless claims today. They have fallen for six consecutive weeks, and at 267k, it is the lowest since the pandemic struck. That said, at the end of 2019, there were below 220k. The Philadelphia and Kansas City Feds publish their November survey results. Both surprised last month, with the former on the downside and the latter on the upside. This time it may be the other way around, with the Philly survey showing strength and the KC survey softer. Canada reports its monthly portfolio flow data ahead of tomorrow's retail sales report. Mexico and Brazil have light economic calendars.
Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau and Mexico's President AMLO visit Washington today for the North America's Leaders Summit. There is tension among the "three amigos." The Build Back Better US initiative contains several elements that favor American producers. A key one is that substantial tax break for Americans buying electric vehicles if they are made in the US. This would seem to put Canada and Mexico at a disadvantage, given the integration of the auto sector on a continental basis. Mexico and Canada are also concerned that the Biden Administration's interpretation of the domestic content requirement in the USMCA treaty is also narrow and puts them at a disadvantage. Canada is also concerned about the pipelines after Biden nixed the Keystone Pipeline in one of his first acts in office, and the Line 5 pipeline is being challenged by Michigan. The US, and to a less extent, Canada, is worried about the efforts by AMLO to increase the power of the state sector energy companies (oil and electricity), deterring private sector efforts. The US may try pressing against this on environmental grounds. Climate and immigration are reportedly on the top of today's agenda.
The US dollar reversed higher against the Canadian dollar on Tuesday, posting an outside up day. Follow-through buying yesterday lifted the greenback a little above CAD1.2620. It ticked ever so slightly higher today but has come back offered. Support is seen in the CAD1.2555-CAD1.2575 area. The $1.04 bln option at CAD1.25 that expires today is too far away to be impactful. Meanwhile, the US dollar remains within Tuesday's range against the Mexican peso (~MXN20.56-MXN20.85). This range looks set to hold today.