GBP/USD – Breaks 1.30 on bullish Barnier comments

Has cable bottomed or more volatility to come?

The pound is rallying on Monday and for the second time in a couple of weeks, it’s the EU chief Brexit negotiator – Michel Barnier – that’s responsible.

Sterling has become very sensitive to positive Brexit news over the last couple of weeks, having spiked on a couple of occasions on reports that the UK will get a bespoke deal and that Angela Merkel is willing to accept less detail on future ties. Clearly there is a feeling that a lot of Brexit pessimism and no deal risk has been priced in which is why we’re in a state of such sensitivity to any reports that indicate a breakthrough will come.

The reported comments do certainly support the previous reports and provide some hope that both sides are fully committed avoiding a no deal scenario, something that at times hasn’t always appeared the case. Assuming these comments aren’t denied and this is the case, it’s possible that things could be really looking up for the pound after what has been quite an awful summer for the currency, having fallen more than 10% against the dollar at one stage.

The pound is also vulnerable to these comments being clarified or a caveat being attached that a no deal is also still very possible, as we’ve seen when previously – apparently – positive reports appeared.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

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Japan Q2 GDP Grow Faster Than Expected as UK GDP Meets Expectations

Earlier today, the Japanese statistics office released the preliminary numbers for the second quarter GDP. The numbers showed that the economy rose by an annualized rate of 1.9% in the second quarter. This was higher than the expected 1.4% annualized rate and the Q1 contraction of 0.9%. The growth in the GDP in the quarter was mostly because of increased capital expenditure which rose by 1.3%. This was higher than the expected growth of 0.6%. Another reason for the growth was the increase in private consumption, which rose by 0.7% in the quarter, higher than the expected 0.2%.

The growth was hampered by external demand which contracted by minus 0.1%. Traders were expecting it to remain unchanged at 0.1%. This was a reflection of the challenging trade environment. During the quarter, there was a disruption in trade as the US initiated tariffs on steel and aluminium. In addition to the GDP numbers, the country released the PPI numbers which beat analysts’ forecasts. The PPI in July rose by 3.1%, which was higher than the expected 2.9%.

The expansion in the Japanese economy was released a week after the United States released its GDP numbers for the second quarter. The numbers for the United States rose by 4.1%, which was the fastest increase since 2014 and was a reflection of the positive impacts of the tax reform and the spending package released earlier this year. Traders are now waiting for more data to predict whether the economy will continue moving higher in the third quarter.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) released the first preliminary numbers for the UK GDP. The numbers showed that the economy rose slightly in the second quarter. On an annualized basis, the economy rose by 1.3%, which was expected. In the first quarter, the economy had expanded by 1.3%. On a quarterly basis, the economy rose by 0.4%.

On another positive note, the manufacturing production in June rose by 0.4%, which was higher than the expected 0.3%. It was nonetheless lower than the 0.6% gain in May. On an annual basis, the manufacturing production rose by 1.5%, which was higher than the expected 1.5%. The industrial production too of 1.1% growth was better than the expected 0.7% gain. The trade balance in June of 11.38 billion pounds was better than the expected 12.05 billion pounds and the balance in May of 12.52 billion pounds.

After the data was released, the pound remained lower than the dollar as traders continued to worry about the possibility of a no-Brexit deal. Such a deal will be a game changer for the UK economy whose biggest trading partner is the European Union.

Later today, we will get the CPI data from the United States. Traders expect the CPI to have risen by an annual rate of 3.0% while the core CPI is expected to rise by 1.3%. Still, the EUR/USD pair is lower as traders get concerned about Europe’s exposure to the Turkish Lira.

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GBP Dives on Dovish BoE Hike

Profit taking seen as MPC doesn’t combine hike with hawkish rhetoric

Sterling tumbled on Thursday after the Bank of England raised interest rates by 0.25% to a post-financial crisis high.

The hike, which was initially planned for May prior to the first quarter slowdown, has not come without it criticism due to the mixed data, temporary factors driving some numbers and the uncertain outlook, associated with Brexit. It was, however, almost fully priced into the markets with investors correctly drawing on the central bank’s previous views on the labour market and deafening silence as market rates rose in the run up to the meeting.

With markets pricing in more than a 90% probability of a hike prior to the meeting, it left little room for confirmation of it to have an impact. While this did come in the immediate aftermath of the hike, the lack of any apparent hawkish language alongside it or warning that more hikes will follow in the near-term appears to have triggered some profit taking on those pre-meeting positions and possibly even stops being hit after that.

BoE hike a close call

Will hike be seen as brave or stupid come March?

The result is that, despite an initial rally, the pound plummeted shortly after falling back towards 1.30 against the dollar, 145 against the yen and 1.12 against the euro (or 0.89 for EURGBP). The central bank once very keen to emphasise though that rate increases were likely to be gradual and limited, citing market expectations of three over the next three years, while also stressing the uncertain influence of Brexit, despite it assuming a smooth transition in its forecasts. All of this lacked the hawkishness that traders were obviously hoping for which aided the decline in the pound.

I think it’s clear that the BoE could have held off on the decision today until it had more certainty on Brexit – maybe even by November – and avoided the possibility that it will have to do an embarrassing u-turn in the near future. That said, it backed itself into a corner earlier this year and clearly decided it’s a risk worth taking and should negotiations take a turn for the better and the economic data improve as a result, we could look back on this as a brave and calculated move that set us on a path towards policy normalisation.

AUD/USD slides despite jump in trade surplus

Economic Calendar

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

BoE Super Thursday to live up to its name

Surely they won’t bottle it again, right?

Super Thursday promises to live up to its name one way or another this week, as the Bank of England either raises interest rates to post-financial crisis highs or risks causing unnecessary and significant market volatility.

  • Rate hike priced in but not guaranteed
  • Possible scenarios on Thursday
  • Key things to look out for

It’s been an unusual lead up to a central bank meeting, in that despite a lack of clear and specific warning signals, the likes of which we’ve become accustomed to, investors have become absolutely convinced it’s happening.

In fact, markets are now pricing in almost a 90% chance that the Monetary Policy Committee will vote to hike rates on Thursday. If the central bank doesn’t hike now, it will need a very good excuse and even then, this entire process of forward guidance will once again be heavily criticized.

BoE Interest Rate Probabilities

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

While it may not make much sense to blame the central bank when I’ve earlier stated that there’s been a lack of clear and specific warning signals, but policy makers are very aware of what market expectations are and when they deviate in such a significant way from reality, they do something about it. This time they have not.

This is where assumptions come into it. The lack of alternative guidance from policy makers has actually fuelled expectations that they must be planning a rate hike or they would have otherwise intervened to realign expectations.

Head fake or breakthrough ??

Remember, investors are always looking for subtle hints in order to get ahead of the curve and in this case, the central bank’s silence has been deafening. Or so investors hope. Should the MPC not deviate much from last month’s vote and hold off again, there could be a sizeable response in the markets, particularly in the pound and short-term UK debt.

Whichever way the central bank goes – and just to be clear, I think they will raise rates – there could be a very interesting response in the markets. These are some of the possible outcomes.

Dovish hike

In this scenario, it would be natural to think that this would be bullish for the pound and, in the immediate aftermath it could be. But if markets are already largely pricing this in then what exactly is left?

A rate hike that is accompanied by dovish language and cautious approach on the economy, or even wait and see approach to Brexit negotiations, could quickly trigger some profit taking by those who have anticipated such a move prior to the meeting and be bearish for the pound not long after the announcement.

EURGBP Daily Chart

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Hawkish hike

This is probably the most bullish feasible outcome for the pound. In this scenario, the BoE raises interest rates and warns that more will follow, maybe even a couple by the end of next year (more is of course possible but maybe not realistic given how the economy is right now and the uncertainty linked to Brexit).

In this case, the BoE is likely opting to look through Brexit or using base case assumptions on it – due to the sheer number of unknowns still – and base its views purely on the economic data, some of which is very good (unemployment, job openings, inflation) and some of which isn’t great (wages, investment, household debt).

GBPUSD Daily Chart

No hike

I don’t think this is likely (although it is arguably what the central bank should be doing) but it’s possible. Under this scenario, the central bank takes all of the recent data into consideration and takes the view that, given the uncertain outcome of Brexit negotiations and possibility of no deal, it makes more sense to wait until November to raise rates.

A few months is not a long time to wait but by then, they should be a lot better positioned to judge what the outcome of Brexit negotiations will be and whether it’s risky or not to be raising rates in such an environment, or what the chance is that it will be reversing course in the near-future, to its own embarrassment.

Of course, the argument against this is that there has been no noise coming from the central bank that market expectations are out of sync with their own which is usually a reliable sign that they are not.

GBPCAD Daily Chart

What to look out for

All things considered, a rate hike looks likely but there is going to be a number of elements of tomorrow’s event that will influence how markets respond.

Fed decision and US labour market in focus

The interest rate decision is the most obvious (12pm UK time) but alongside the release, we’ll get the minutes from the meeting, voting and the inflation report which contains new growth and inflation forecasts for the coming years, which will effectively determine how many hikes we’ll see.

This will then be followed by a press conference with Carney and his colleagues 30 minutes later which is never a dull event and certainly won’t be if the central bank once again bottles it.

GBP/USD – Pares gains ahead of BoE

The sell-off in GBPUSD (cable) has been losing momentum for a couple of months now, with the pair having stalled around 1.30 despite one attempt to break below a couple of weeks ago, something that now looks like a false breakout.

The move has coincided with a general improvement in sentiment towards the greenback, with the already hot US economy getting an additional fiscal boost from tax reforms, leading to an increase in expectations for rate hikes in the near to medium term.

GBPUSD Weekly Chart

It has also coincided with a slowdown in other countries which has forced their respective central banks to take a more gradual approach to tightening plans, with the Bank of England being one of those to have adopted such an softening in stance.

The dollar has also benefited from its renewed safe haven appeal, with US Treasuries being favoured in trade-related risk averse environments thanks in part to the higher yield that is now on offer.

DAX trading sideways as eurozone inflation within expectations

This pair is not short of potential catalysts this week, with the BoE meeting on Thursday – or Super Thursday as it has now become known – being at the very top of these (Fed rate decision Wednesday and US jobs report on Friday also clearly stand out).

The UK central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points at the meeting – 87% priced in – the second post-financial crisis rate hike but the first time rates will be above 0.5% which for some time was seen as the lowest they could reasonably go.

BoE Interest Rate Probability

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

While the decision to raise interest rates has been met with confusion and even criticism, due to the economy very much not firing on all cylinders and Brexit talks now at a crunch point and likely to be much clearer in only a few months, policy makers have done nothing to correct markets interpretation of events which if anything makes investors even more confident that it will happen.

This comes after policy makers backtracked on a rate hike in May due to the first quarter slow down, despite being confident at the time that it was largely weather related, something recent data has gone some way to confirming.

BoJ new script supports the carry-trade

This determination to raise rates may be one of the things supporting the pound recently but if a hike is so priced in, has sterling peaked? I’m not sure. For one, any progress in Brexit negotiations should be good for the pound. The same applies to the economy, with both providing comfort to the central bank. Something it can’t have much of right now given the sheer amount of uncertainty.

GBPUSD Daily

From a purely technical perspective, the sell-off appears to have potentially run its course. The pair has found support around a notable technical support level – 50 fib from lows to highs, previous support and resistance and a big round number just to complete the hatrick.

What’s more, upon reaching here, momentum had already started to decline and has continued to do so, with the MACD and stochastic making higher lows even as price made lower ones. This divergence, while not being a buy signal, is a sign that all may not be as bearish as it was and that there may be some profit taking or even buying creaping back in (remember, if this is a corrective move, then the recent weakness should prove only temporary and bulls become increasingly interested once again).

The pair may be flat on the day after US inflation, income and spending figures brought some life back to the dollar, but should it find some upward momentum again and break back above 1.32 – and the falling channel – it could be a bullish signal in the near-term.

Live FX Market Analysis – 24 July 2018

In this week’s FX webinar, Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam discusses the latest events that are moving financial markets – Trump attacks the Fed, Brexit plans widely criticized etc – and previews the week ahead.

Craig also gives his live analysis on EURUSD (9:22), GBPUSD (11:48), EURGBP (18:45), AUDUSD (19:34), USDCAD (21:04), GBPCAD (22:14), NZDUSD (23:31), USDJPY (24:38), GBPJPY (27:41) and EURJPY (29:09).

OANDA Market Insights podcast (episode 24)

OANDA Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam reviews the week’s business and market news with Jazz FM Business Breakfast presenter Jonny Hart.

This week’s big stories: Trump attacks Fed over rate rise, UK inflation figures hit sterling, Barnier dismisses Brexit white paper , Google fined record sum.

USD Weaker After Trump Interest Rate Comments

Canada: Inflation Hit Six-Year-Plus High

Dollar Rally Ends With Trump Monetary Policy and Currency War Comments

 

BoE hike still priced in despite worrying UK data

GBP bounces back after data driven selling

European markets are trading in the red early in the session on Thursday, with the FTSE 100 the only major index in the green, supported by weakness in the pound after the release of some more disappointing data for the UK.

The UK retail sales data this morning may have dealt another major blow to the Bank of England’s hopes of raising interest rates in August, bringing an end to what has likely been a very frustrating week for policy makers. In recent weeks it has appeared that the Monetary Policy Committee had once again come around to the idea that raising interest rates in August is appropriate after plans in May were derailed by a frustratingly weak first quarter, something policy makers appeared to have correctly assumed would prove to be a temporary lull.

The data this week may have thrown another spanner in the works, with labour market figures showing a tight labour market by uninspiring wage growth, core inflation falling below 2% and now modest retail sales growth in what was expected to be a stellar month. This is clearly not the platform policy makers were hoping for when preparing investors for a rate hike but they may still seize the opportunity before it’s taken away from them for a prolonged period.

DAX takes pause from recent gains

Traders still convinced of rate hike despite week of bad releases

There may well be a strong feeling in the MPC that the central bank should have pushed ahead with a hike in May and stood by its belief that weather had a negative but temporary impact on the economy which would have given it the freedom to be patient through the rest of the year. Instead, it now finds itself in a position were the most recent data hasn’t been great and Brexit talks are not progressing as hoped, meaning it would make far more sense to hold off until November, something that would likely result in another backlash against the policy of forward guidance.

UK Interest Rate Probability

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

While holding off would make sense, there is clearly a view in the markets that this will not happen and the central bank may stick to plans to hike in two weeks. Despite numerous setbacks this week, a hike is still currently 68% priced in and after initial selling, the pound is showing some resilience and holding above 1.30 against the dollar. It seems traders are awaiting any hint from the BoE that plans have been put on hold again, at which point the resilience will likely break and possibly aggressively.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

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US earnings, data and Fed speakers eyed

Over in the US, futures are tracking the majority of Europe lower, with the major indices currently seen opening around a tenth of one percent lower. This comes after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell once again gave an upbeat assessment of the economy on Wednesday, in his appearance in front of the House Financial Services Committee. With the Fed on a quite clear and consistent course on interest rates, there wasn’t a huge amount learned in either appearance that we already didn’t know.

‘Footy’ dented U.K retail sales and pounds sterling

Today it’s looking a little quiet for the US. There are a couple of pieces of data that traders will be looking out for ahead of the open – Philly Fed manufacturing index and jobless claims – and we’ll also hear from Powell’s colleague at the Fed, Randal Quarles. With the season now up and running, there’ll also be a big focus on US earnings with 21 companies reporting including Microsoft and BNY Mellon.

Economic Calendar

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Is BoE Rate Hike in Doubt After Inflation Data?

GBP slides as core inflation falls below BoE target

Focus is back on the central banks on Wednesday as we await the second appearance this week of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and the Bank of England’s interest rate plans are questioned following some softer inflation numbers.

The pound is tumbling again on Wednesday after the latest inflation data for the UK threw a spanner in the works ahead of the BoE meeting in two weeks. There was a growing belief that the central bank will raise interest rates at the August meeting – rightly or wrongly – with the data this week seen providing additional support for such a move but the numbers we’ve seen this morning have done quite the opposite.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

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Earlier this year when policy makers were preparing a May hike, inflation was much higher and was seen as being a key reason behind the desire to raise rates. Had that number ticked higher again today, as was expected, it would – along with the other data we’ve seen recently – have provided policy makers an opportunity to follow through on previous plans without coming under too much scrutiny.

Fed Powell advances the dollar

With that not happening and core CPI falling to 1.9%, below the central bank’s 2% target, the decision becomes that much more difficult and uncertain. Moreover, the timing of the meeting is not ideal, with Brexit talks not going smoothly and only a few months in which they need to be concluded. Ordinarily, it would make much more sense for the Monetary Policy Committee to wait until November when much more clarity will exist over the economy and Brexit, but I’m not sure they will and market pricing appears to currently support this view.

UK Inflation

August rate hike still well priced in

An August rate hike is still 72% priced in, down from 77% yesterday, despite this morning’s release, which suggests investors do not believe policy makers will be deterred. The BoE’s credibility has long be brought into question, most recently in May when after months of hinting at a rate hike, it changed its mind due to first quarter weakness which it believed was transitory.

UK Interest Rate Probability

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

If it holds off again in two weeks despite the bounce back in the economy, people will seriously question whether any attention at all should be paid to the central banks forward guidance. For this reason, I think they will raise rates and hope they won’t be forced to reverse course in the near future, say if Brexit talks collapse.

Powell speech may offer little new information on interest rates

Attention will now turn to Powell’s testimony on the semi-annual monetary policy report in front of the House Financial Services Committee, where the Fed Chair is once again expected to deliver a very upbeat assessment of the economy and stick to previous views on rate hikes. The Fed has become one of the less interesting central banks due to its reliability and transparency – something that is very much a goal of all central banks – which is likely to make today’s appearance less of a market moving event.

USD/JPY advances to six month high post-testimony

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have the potential to cause market swings, rather that what Powell will say will likely already be priced in and so any movements are less likely to be significant. He may surprise us, should he get into a deeper discussion on trade wars for example and the implications for monetary policy, but as yet this is not something that has had an impact on the outlook.

Economic Calendar

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Markets higher as earnings season gets underway

Earnings season eyed as trade war fears remain

We’re seeing some risk appetite return on Friday even as concerns about trade remain front and centre and shows no signs of improving.

European equity markets are trading in the green on Friday, taking the lead from the US session on Thursday where tech stocks drove a rally that saw the NASDAQ hit a record high. With earnings season getting underway, investors will be looking for reasons to be more optimistic having spent months reading about the risks that a trade war poses to the economy.

JP Morgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will kick things off today and over the coming weeks, investors will be paying close attention not just to the results but also references to trade tariffs and the impact they are expected to have on future results, particularly those that have already been targeted in counter-measures taken or proposed against the US.

DAX steady as investors search for cues

Sterling slips as Trump warns of risks to US/UK trade deal

Trump has very much been in the spotlight this week, attending the NATO summit in Brussels before heading over to the UK to meet Prime Minister Theresa May. As ever, Trump was not afraid to express his views on the UK and Brexit ahead of the visit, warning that a trade deal with the US would not be possible under the model that May is seeking with the European Union, while also expressing his belief that Boris Johnson would make a good PM. This appears to have weighed on the pound in trade on Friday given the complications it could cause May and her team.

None of this will go down well with May – who has previously pushed strongly for this visit despite much protest – and comes at a terrible time for her but as Trump well knows, she is in a very weak position right now and is unlikely to fight back and, more importantly, he wants a Brexit that best suits the US. Whether Trump’s comments give more voice to dissenters among Brexiteers is yet to be seen but it certainly doesn’t help the PM as a trade deal with the US has long been touted as one of the benefits of leaving the EU.

First signs of tariffs impact in China’s June trade numbers

Chinese trade surplus increases as Trump plans more tariffs

Chinese trade data released overnight may be used as a source for Trump’s next attack on the world’s second largest economy, with exports having soared once again – rising 11.3% – increasing the surplus the country has with the US to $41.61 billion in June. While the main reason for such a spike is likely to be exporters front loading sales ahead of the tariffs being implemented, it’s likely that a stronger US economy and weaker yuan is also playing a role.

I expect this will be used as another example of the bad trade policies that Trump has repeatedly references but been unable to so far influence. Trump is attempting to force them back to the table with threats of another $200 billion in tariffs, something that has so far only been met with retaliation from China and others.

Economic Calendar

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.