Half a Dozen Things You Should Know about FX

Half a Dozen Things You Should Know about FX

1.  The market is still digesting the implications of Wednesday's CPI shock. The dollar has strengthened, yields have risen, the stock market wobbled after a long advancing streak, and in any event, stabilized in light trading during the US and Canadian holidays. However, given the low year-ago reading, there is a significant risk that inflation (including the core rate) will accelerate over the next few months. As a result, the Federal Reserve needs greater flexibility to raise rates sooner than it has envisioned.  

The main restraint now is the pace of tapering.  The FOMC committed to reducing its bond-buying by $15 bln in November and December.  Its statement indicated that it anticipated maintaining the rate afterward, but the FOMC also reserved the right to adjust the pace if necessary. Thus, accelerating the tapering is the most likely course of action.  Bullard had suggested completing the tapering by the end of Q1.  If this is to become the majority view, there may be some effort to prepare the market.  

Recently a rally in US bonds was attributed to talk that Governor Brainard could replace Powell as Fed chair.  The argument was that Brainard was more dovish.  Is this really relevant now?  Does it count as a strike against her?  With Yellen's apparent support, Powell is most likely to get re-appointed, and given that CPI is at 30-year highs, conventional thinking favors maintaining a stable hand at the helm.

2.    The dollar's gains accelerated since the higher than expected CPI report.  The euro was in a $1.15-$1.17 range last month and broke out on Wednesday.  Follow-through selling Thursday brought to about $1.1445.  We have suggested the next target is a little below $1.1300.   The jump in yields helped lift the greenback from below JPY112.80 above JPY114.00.  The five-year high set on October 20 was around JPY114.70, while we project the upper end of the likely range closer to JPY115.00.

3.  Disappointing economic data contributed to the losses of sterling and the Australian dollar.   Economists (Bloomberg survey) expected Australia to have created 50k jobs in October, but, instead, it lost 46.3k jobs for the third consecutive monthly decline.  The bulk of the loss (40.4k) were full-time positions, which reversed the 26.7k increase reported in September.  The unemployment rate jumped to 5.2% from 4.6%, the highest since April.  The Australian dollar peaked near $0.7550 in late October and fell below $0.7300 on Thursday, for the first time in a month.  The next target is around $0.7240-$0.7260.  

The UK reported a significant slow down in Q3 GDP to 1.3% from 5.5% in Q2. Expectations for a 1.5% quarter-over-quarter expansion  (Bloomberg survey) seemed on the high side.  However, the September monthly GDP rose 0.6%, and the better than expected rise was offset but a reduction in the August GDP to 0.2% from 0.4%. The industrial output contracted in September. The trade deficit deteriorated after a dramatic revision in the August balance (to -GBP1.880 bln from -GBP3.716 bln, while services accelerated (0.7% from a revised 0.1% gain that had initially reported at 0.3%).  Sterling, which had been pushing near $1.36 before the Bank of England's meeting and slipped to a marginal new low for the year on Wednesday but still held above $1.34 (barely).  It fell to $1.3360 on Thursday. The next chart support area is seen around $1.3165-$1.3185.

4.  The joint US-China statement at COP-26 is promising.  It was the key to the Paris Agreement in 2015.  There was a commitment to boost efforts to cut emissions and illegal deforestation.  The gap between current policies and what is necessary was acknowledged, and there appeared to be an agreement in principle to reach an agreement on climate finances and rules for a carbon market.  The joint statement must have been in the works even as Biden criticized Xi for the lack of commitment for not attending COP-26.  There is still much speculation about a "virtual summit," which is supposed to signal something more than two phone calls the leaders have held this year.  The environment was also recognized where cooperation was possible.  Still, Beijing refused to join the US-EU commitment to cut methane admissions and opted for its own plan.   The geopolitical competition is unaffected by the joint statement.

Meanwhile, the more pressing geopolitical threat is coming from the movement of Russian forces to the Ukraine border.  Reports suggest the US has briefed Europe on a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Hostilities are said to have escalated recently.  Recall that Russia had amassed forces (~100k soldiers, tanks, and aircraft) in the Spring too.  It triggered a flurry of talks, and Moscow removed (redeployed) its forces.  Russia defended the troop movement within the country as an internal affair but has accused the US of provocation for sailing warships into the Black Sea, close to its territory last week.  Putin also reportedly was critical of Ukraine's alleged use of drones, which violated a previous agreement.  Meanwhile, tensions on the Polish-Belarus border remain tense.  Merkel sought Putin's help recently to defuse the situation, but he refused.   Belarus is thought to be instigating a migration crisis and has threatened to shut down a critical gas pipeline to the EU if Poland keeps its border closed.  These developments may have contributed to some pressure on the euro.  

5.  The Mexican peso fell by around 0.5% after the central bank lifted the overnight rate to 5.00%. It is the third quarter-point move in the cycle that began in June.   The swaps market has nearly 90 bp of tightening discounted over the next three months and almost 220 bp in the next 12 months.  Banxico lifted its Q4 inflation forecast to 6.8% from 6.2%.  The one dissent (Esquivel, again) was to stand pat.  There was no vote for a 50 bp move, which contributed to the dovish read of the rate hike.  October CPI, reported earlier this week, is at 6.24% year-over-year, 

6.   Friday's economic calendar is light.  Little new data from the large Asia Pacific and European countries.  The North American calendar is minimal.  The US JOLTS report on job openings and the University of Michigan's preliminary estimate of November sentiment and inflation expectations.   NY Fed's Williams is the lone speaker from the central bank and may not address monetary policy directly.  There are three sets of chunky options that expire tomorrow that may be relevant:  1.23 bln euros at $1.1460, $1.75 bln at JPY114.00, and GBP690 mln at $1.3320.  


Marc Chandler

Marc Chandler

Marc Chandler has been covering the global capital markets for more than 30 years, including stints as the global head of currency strategy for both HSBC and Brown Brothers Harriman. Chandler recently joined Bannockburn Global Forex as a Managing Director and Chief Market Strategist in 2018.

A prolific writer and speaker, Chandler appears regularly in the financial media. He is often quoted in the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Bloomberg, and the Washington Post, among others. Marc also provides his insights and commentary on the markets on the most widely watched financial news channels, including CNBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN, and Fox Business.

Marc’s first book, Making Sense of the Dollar, was published by Bloomberg Press in 2009 and received a Bronze Award from Independent Publishers. Chandler's second book, Political Economy of Tomorrow, was published in February 2017.

Chandler is also an honorary fellow of the Foreign Policy Association and has been named a Business Visionary by Forbes.

Currently, Chandler teaches at New York University Center for Global Affairs, where he is an associate professor. He is also an honorary visiting professor at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

Though a Chicago native, and lifelong Cubs fan, Chandler currently resides in New York City with his wife, Jeannine, and son, Nathan.