The Forex Trading Week Ahead

07/19/2010 10:34 am EST

Focus: FOREX

Brian Dolan

Chief Currency Strategist,

Risk assets (stocks, commodities, JPY crosses) started out the past week on solid gains, but ultimately failed to overcome key resistance levels. In stocks, the fact that 20 out of 23 US earnings reports beat expectations and shares could not advance should be alarming. In reality, though, it should also have been expected--as the outlook for the US recovery continued to slide, the future outlook for stocks was undermined (and earnings are mostly backward looking indicators anyway). The market is still in the process of adjusting to a more sluggish 2H 2010, with US assets bearing the brunt at the moment, but we also think there is more to go in re-pricing for a slower global recovery.

In terms of price levels, the S&P 500 failed below the key 1100 psychological level and the bottom of the daily Ichimoku cloud around 1095, keeping the downside focus intact. A bearish engulfing line on the daily S&P candlesticks also highlights downside risk ahead. WTI crude oil prices never even managed to test the recent highs just below the $80/barrel area, and finished down on the week. EUR/USD topped out at the 61.8% retracement of the April-June decline, which came in at the psychologically significant 1.3000 level. The USD index extended losses below the daily cloud, but may have found a base above the key 82.00 level, just above the weekly cloud top at 81.90. AUD/JPY, the closest correlated FX pair to stocks, was rejected from the daily cloud up in the 77.30/78.30 area, mirroring the same S&P failure. Lastly, the commodity currencies have shown renewed signs of weakness against the USD, and they are frequently a leading indicator for broader USD-based moves, suggesting USD weakness may be set to reverse.

Over the course of the past week, several key correlations broke down in the short run, but other, more meaningful correlations persisted. The major anomalies were in outsized EUR gains, followed closely by GBP, and extreme USD weakness. We look at EUR and GBP strength as mainly the result of another wave of short covering, similar to what occurred in the middle of May. In this respect, we would note the outsized gains in EUR/AUD, EUR/CAD, GBP/AUD, and GBP/CAD. If it were a case of pure USD weakness, those crosses would not have seen such gains, reinforcing our view that this was a position-driven adjustment. Anecdotally, the break above the 1.2750/2800 area was heavily stop-loss driven. Also, according to recent correlations, a weaker USD should have boosted stocks, oil, and gold, but clearly that didn't happen either.

Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, US weakness undermines the prospects for the global recovery overall. From that view, many of the market moves in the past week make more sense: oil and stocks lower on slowing global outlooks; JPY crosses lower on heightened risk aversion over the deteriorating outlook; and JPY and CHF strength on safe haven flows. We think the bulk of EUR and GBP short covering has likely occurred, and we are leery of chasing those currencies higher. Anticipating that increased risk aversion may eventually lead to the USD rebounding on safe-haven demand, we would prefer to be sellers on remaining strength in EUR/USD between 1.3000-1.3150 and in GBP/USD between 1.5400/5530. The likely more reliable way to trade expected further risk pullbacks would be to sell JPY crosses, especially AUD/JPY, CAD/JPY, and NZD/JPY on remaining strength.

EU Bank Stress Test Results Are Keenly Awaited

The first results of the EU bank stress tests are due on July 23. Credit analysts have been busy drawing up lists of which banks are likely to have failed. If the tests are to be perceived as credible, then failures are considered to be inevitable. In contrast, the tone of many European officials has been confident. The deputy Spanish finance minister Campa has said that Spain “Can only win” from the publication of the tests. Bank of Italy governor Draghi has stated that the stress tests will demonstrate that the capitalization of Italian banks is well above minimum levels, and Bank of Ireland governor Honohan has stated that Irish banks have already been through more severe tests. The IMF’s Strauss-Kahn has concluded that there will be some small institutions that will have to be refinanced. The official rhetoric along with a decent result to the Spanish bond auction and Greek bill sale this week has supported the EUR. Clearly the EUR may come under pressure if the stress tests bring many casualties. It could also be sold if the stress tests produce too few failures, as the tests will be seen as providing insufficient transparency to the interbank market. There could be a thin line where the results appear to be relatively agreeable and the EUR can derive support. However, having reached EUR/USD 1.300 already, upside potential for the EUR could be running dry.

NEXT: UK Inflation, Bank of Canada Rate Hike, Key Data This Week


UK Inflation Debate May Be Fueled

The debate on whether inflation pressures are building in the UK intensified a month ago when it was revealed that MPC member Sentance had voted for a rate hike at the June policy meeting. Since then, Sentance has maintained his hawkish view, although the CPI release has shown a fall in the headline rate and labour data has brought a moderation in the growth rate of earnings. The publication of the FOMC minutes this week re-opened the possibility that the Fed may ease policy again before it hikes. While this prospect cannot yet be dismissed in the UK, market expectations are favoring a policy tightening in the UK ahead of the US, and this possibility has allowed for a better tone in cable in recent sessions. Sterling could find additional support on the back of the Q2 advance GDP report in the week ahead, which is expected to show relatively good growth. The impact, however, is likely to be short lived given prevailing concerns that the UK growth rate will stutter in H2 on the back of the government’s austerity measures. The old range high of cable at USD.15525 is likely to offer decent resistance, and a break below the USD1.5230 level may suggest additional losses are in store.

Bank of Canada Rate Hike Expected

On Tuesday, July 20, the Bank of Canada meets to decide on interest rates. We agree with the market consensus for a second consecutive rate hike of 25 bps to 0.75% as recent economic data out of Canada supports policy tightening. A look at the jobs report underscores this as 93.2k jobs added in June, more than four times analysts’ expectations. To put this in perspective, a proportionate number in the US (whose economy is about ten times larger) would be the creation of roughly 930,000 jobs. That is an impressive number, and keep in mind that higher employment propels the economy forward. There has been some discussion that the BOC may tighten more aggressively, however, we do not agree with this view. As inflation remains subdued, there is no apparent need for more aggressive tightening. Year over year CPI is currently 1.4%, which is below the 2% target inflation rate and the bank recently projected core inflation at or below 2% through 2012. In their forward-looking guidance, policymakers are likely to take a cautious tone given the concerns over the euro zone and slowdown in global growth highlighted by a softening demand in commodities. More detailed thinking can be expected in Thursday’s monetary policy report.

Key Data and Events to Watch This Week

The calendar in the US is modestly light in the week ahead. Housing numbers kick off the week with the July NAHB housing market index and continues into Tuesday with June housing starts and building permits. The data slate for Thursday sees weekly jobless claims, June existing home sales, and June leading indicators. Fed chairman Bernanke will deliver the semi-annual monetary policy outlook to the Senate banking committee on Wednesday.

Euro zone data is relatively light but significant with a heavy emphasis on the aggregate EZ results of the bank stress tests on Friday. May euro zone current account data is scheduled for Monday, as is May construction output. No further data is scheduled until Thursday when the PMI composite, services, and manufacturing output indexes are to be released. Thursday wraps up euro zone data releases for the week with May industrial new orders and euro zone consumer confidence. In Germany, Tuesday sees June producer prices with July PMI manufacturing and PMI services surveys to follow on Thursday. Friday closes out the data week with the July IFO business climate index.

A moderate week of data lies ahead in the UK with June public sector net borrowing, June mortgage approvals, and the July CBI optimism index on Tuesday. Wednesday will have the Bank of England minutes followed by June retail sales figures on Thursday. Friday wraps up the UK data session with the advance estimate for Q2 GDP.

Data out of Tokyo is light with May leading and coincident indexes to be released on Tuesday. There is significant event risk though as BOJ intervention cannot be completely dismissed with USD/JPY trading at current levels.

Canada begins a significant week of data with the Bank of Canada rate announcement on Tuesday. Expectations are for an increase of +0.25% to 0.75%. Up next are May wholesale sales and May retail sales due out on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday wraps up the week with June CPI and Bank of Canada core CPI set to be released.

The calendar down under begins with the release of the RBA minutes from the July meeting on Monday and continues with the Q2 NAB business confidence survey on Wednesday. Thursday wraps up the week with Q2 import and export price indexes.

By Brian Dolan, chief currency strategist,
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