Trade Tensions Return as US Tariffs on China Lift Dollar

The dollar bounced back on Friday, after a couple of economic indicator misses this week, the greenback is higher against all major pairs. Major pairs and commodities are lower against the greenback ahead of the weekend. The American currency did not manage to overturn the losses posted during the rest of the week. On a weekly basis the USD is lower against all majors except the Japanese Yen.

A slowdown in the pace of inflation, miss in retail sales expectations and a softer tone on trade from the Trump administration were the three major factors for the softness of the currency.

Rate differentials also helping the USD. This week was mostly a non event for the Bank of England (BoE) and the European Central Bank (ECB). Although the Sept rate hike by the Fed is priced in, it also shows its the only economy with some momentum to even lift rates. Next up in the economic calendar are the Bank of Japan (BOJ) and the Swiss National Bank that are not expected to modify their monetary policies.

Euro Scored a Win on a Weekly Basis but Falls as Trade Tensions Rise

The escalation of trade tensions was a positive for the US dollar as investors sought a safe haven during times of uncertainty. As potential olive branches are put forward there is optimism that Canada will join the US-Mexico agreement and talks with China could lead to closing the gap between the two points of view on trade. US President Trump tweeted on Friday that the a meeting with China is no guarantee of anything and reports in the media suggest the $200 billion US tariffs are still on the table.

A September rate hike is still fully priced in, but the inflation and retail sales miss did slim down the probabilities of a follow up rate hike in December.

The American economic calendar is short on blockbuster releases with Washington development to guide markets as trade tensions have eased, but are far from resolved.



The euro rose almost 1 percent this week with risk appetite returning to markets and strong wage growth in Europe. The European Central Bank (ECB) did as expected and held rates signalling that it will end its QE program at the end of the year and continued to maintain interest rates low through the 2019 summer.

Investors were not given any new information and instead bought the currency on improved international trade environment. The olive branches are just now entering the picture, and ECB economists could not have predicted the timing as they also announced a downgrade of their economic projections, citing trade worries.

Upcoming European inflation along with service and manufacturing PMIs will bookend the economic calendar in the EU. The gap between interest rates will continue to grow as the U.S. Federal Reserve pushes on its tightening policies as growth fails to spark momentum in Europe.

Fed rate hikes are priced in into the USD, but signs of European slowdown or the US economy hitting a higher gear could be a gift for dollar bulls.

Canadian Dollar Awaits News on NAFTA as US Gets Tough on China

The Canadian dollar fell on Friday. After the Trump administration softened its stance on international trade, in particular by reopening trade talks with China, NAFTA optimism boosted the loonie. Traders did not feel confident in carrying over short dollar positions into the weekend and the greenback saw a recovery on Friday.


Canadian dollar weekly graph September 10, 2018

The loonie advanced 1 percent during the week and next week’s inflation and retail sales data on Friday are crucial for the fate of a Bank of Canada (BoC) interest rate hike. NAFTA headlines will roll in as the team of negotiations get back to work with the aim to add Canada to to US-Mexico agreement.

Expectations are mixed on NAFTA, as Canada seems ready to make concessions on dairy but the US and Mexico continue to press for a trilateral deal while also adding they are ready to forge ahead if its only a bilateral one.

China Tariffs Cap Rise of Oil as Growth Concerns Hit Commodities

Oil fell 0.35 percent on Friday compounding on losses seen on Thursday, but will head into the weekend with a 1.09 percent gain. Supply disruptions have lifted prices after the 2014, be it the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and major producers agreement to limit their output to weather and geopolitical disputes.

Hurricane Florence in the US was downgraded and with it the negative short term effect on potential disruptions. IEA reported today that OPEC is starting to ramp up production by 420,000 daily barrels more than making up for the impact that the sanctions on Iranian exports will have on supply.

Global demand for crude has not shown signs of recovery and if producers start pumping there is a risk that oversupply could once again bring instability to oil prices.

Geopolitical factors like the US-China trade tensions will continue to put downward pressure on crude prices as higher levels of protectionist measures tend to slow down global growth.

Yellow Metal Falls as Risk Aversion and Fed Rate Hikes Advance

Gold fell 0.46 on Friday after a bounce in the US dollar at the end of the week. Risk aversion has been the main dollar of US strength as trade war concerns could have a deep impact in global growth. Commodities have recovered this week after the Trump administration has softened its tough stance with China with bilateral talks to restart in a couple of weeks.



Friday’s move is also explained by investors limiting their exposures as the weekend approaches, given that geopolitical risk could rise at any moment. The move gave some breathing room to the greenback as it is on its way to erase the majority of its losses against the yellow metal.

OANDA Market Insights podcast (episode 26)

OANDA Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam and Head of Trading Asia Steve Innes review the week’s business and market news with Jazz FM Business Breakfast presenter Nick Howard.

This week’s big stories: rate hike from the Bank of England, Apple market cap hits $1 trillion, China moves to shore up the yuan, and US job figures (non farm payroll numbers) miss expectations.

Big revisions offset July miss on payrolls

Another strong US jobs report expected today

The PBoC giveth the PBoC taketh

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.

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

 

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.

GBP/JPY – Bearish Breakout Ahead of Jobs Data and BoE

OANDA Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam talks to Core Finance about the recent bearish break in GBPJPY and whether it signals more pain ahead. He also previews the UK jobs data and Bank of England inflation report hearing and what they could mean for interest rates this year.

USD/JPY – Japanese Yen Edges Lower as Japanese Manufacturing PMI Dips

BoE Hearing and Fed Minutes in Focus

DAX Under Pressure, Investors Eye Fed Minutes

BoE Hearing and Fed Minutes in Focus

US Futures Continue to Pare Last Week’s Gains

US equity markets are expected to open in the red again on Wednesday, tracking losses in Europe as stocks continue to pare last week’s strong rebound.

It’s been a relatively quiet start to the morning and the week, with the bank holiday in the US and Canada contributing to this. The European session has been dominated by economic data releases so far and that’s likely to continue, with flash manufacturing and services data due from the US shortly after the open. It’s the FOMC minutes that will be released later in the day though that will likely be the standout event from a US perspective, particularly as the statement caused quite a stir at the end of January.

US Yield Curve Now (Orange) and on 29 January 2018 (Purple)

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

The sell-off in the markets may have come a couple of days later but part of the initial trigger was a more hawkish sounding Fed, with the jobs report then being the straw that broke the camel’s back two days later. While the minutes may not generate quite the same response, traders will likely monitor what they say very closely for signs that policy makers are now leaning more towards three to four rate hikes this year, rather than two or three.

EUR/USD – Euro Ticks Lower as German Manufacturing PMI Softens

GBP Slips as Unemployment Ticks Higher

Sterling is coming under a bit of pressure this morning after UK jobs data for the three months to December showed wages still growing at a moderate pace and unemployment ticking up to 4.4%. While a higher reading on wage growth may have triggered a more bullish response from the pound, the data turned out to be quite insignificant as it’s unlikely to change the views at the Bank of England.

UK Unemployment Rate

Wages have been slowly ticking higher recently and they could continue to do so as workers demand more due to the higher cost of living and a tight labour market. The move higher in the unemployment rate won’t be a concern at this moment with it potentially being a one-off move and still very low. As long as inflation remains at upper range of what is deemed acceptable, the central bank seems intent on raising rates at least once more this year, despite the temporary factors driving it and economic uncertainty that lies ahead.

Yield-o-Mania

BoE Inflation Report Hearing Eyed as Markets Price in Rate Hikes

Members of the Monetary Policy Committee including Governor Mark Carney will appear before the Treasury Select Committee later on today, during which they will be questioned on their latest inflation report forecasts and expectations for interest rates going forward. While it’s always interesting to get the views of policy makers and the pound will likely be volatile throughout, I wonder how much of what they have to say will now already be priced in, with at least one rate hike now expected this year.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

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With that in mind and with Brexit transition negotiations likely to dominate the next month, we could see the pound lose some of the momentum that’s been gathering over the last six months or so. It’s recent failed to make new highs on two occasions against the dollar and it’s also slipping against the yen in a possible sign that traders are beginning to lock in profits ahead of what could be a difficult month.

Economic Calendar

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

Calm Returns to Markets Ahead of BoE Event

US Futures Flat After Uneventful Session in Europe

A sense of calm appears to be gradually returning to financial markets as we near the end of the week, with indices in Europe trading a little lower and US futures flat after ending Wednesday’s session in a similar manner.

While volatility in the markets has eased over the last couple of days, it has remained at very high levels which is probably a sign of the ongoing nervousness among investors which may leave markets vulnerable to further declines. Still, the European session has so far been relatively uneventful compared to the last few days which may be a positive sign ahead of the open in the US.

The sell-off on Monday was widely attributed to rising yields on the back of higher interest rate expectations in the US and Europe, although it was likely exacerbated by a combination of other factors, such as automated trading and fear of a broader correction given how long it had been since the last. It’s interesting then that while yields fell after the stock market sell-off, they have been creeping higher again and now find themselves not far from the levels they were at on Monday. Should we avoid another plunge in stocks, it would suggest that yields may have been the catalyst but ultimately, the selling that followed was driven by other factors, perhaps including a belief that a correction was overdue.

Are BoE Interest Rate Expectations Too Bullish?

Will Carney Adopt Cautious Approach Given Market Volatility?

It will be very interesting to see what approach the Bank of England takes when it holds its quarterly press conference later on, given the recent market volatility. Central banks typically approach these events with incredible caution due to the ability of a seemingly harmless comment to cause excessive swings as traders pick apart everything that’s said.

Governor Mark Carney may have to be extra careful today then, particularly if the BoE is planning to lay the foundation for a rate hike this year, with an increasing number of people suggesting one will come in May. I remain unconvinced by this given the amount of economic uncertainty, soft economic data and the fact that inflation is believed to have peaked. Should the new forecasts contain an upgrade to the inflation outlook then perhaps this will nudge policy makers towards raising interest rates again.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

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With no change in interest rates expected, traders will be paying very close attention to the new forecasts, as well as the press conference with Carney and his colleagues. If the BoE is considering a hike in May, you would expect it to start laying the groundwork for it today and at the meeting in March, which could provide additional upside pressure in UK debt and sterling, which is already trading at pre-referendum levels against the dollar.

Market Jitters Remain

Crypto Rebound May Be Short-Lived

The rebound in bitcoin is continuing today, with the cryptocurrency now up more than 40% from the lows posted two days ago. In any other asset other than cryptocurrencies, this kind of move would be staggering but instead this is just another day for bitcoin. It is also only a small rebound compared to the declines it’s seen over the last couple of months and may prove to be yet another dead cat bounce, albeit one that exceeds 40%.

Bitcoin Daily Chart

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

I’m not convinced yet that any rebound will be sustained as we continue to see a steady stream of negative news flow which has severely damaged sentiment in cryptocurrencies. The rally towards the end of last year was driven by the buzz and positive sentiment towards bitcoin and its peers – as well as a large speculative push from FOMO traders – and the reversal of this has equally weighed heavily on it. If that continues, I see no reason why it won’t be back below $6,000 in the not too distant future.

Economic Calendar

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

Are BoE Interest Rate Expectations Too Bullish?

BoE to Release New Economic Forecasts Alongside Rate Decision

The Bank of England holds its first monetary policy meeting of the year this week, after which it will release the quarterly inflation report alongside its monetary policy decision and hold a press conference with Governor Mark Carney.

The event – which is often referred to as “Super Thursday” – is one of the most hotly anticipated of the UK calendar as it offers significant insight into the thoughts of the Monetary Policy Committee, something that’s become increasingly sought after since it started raising interest rates in November.

BoE policy makers took the decision to raise interest rates after inflation surpassed 3% in November, a level deemed by many to be too high despite being driven by one-off currency moves in the aftermath of Brexit. This is led many economists to forecast another hike this year and two more over the three forecasting period, but have they and others been misled by the central bank?

GBP/USD – Pound Under Pressure, BoE Rate Decision Next

In many ways, the dilemma facing the BoE is no different than that facing other central banks – the economy is growing, unemployment is very low, labour market slack appears low and yet inflation is stubbornly low – but one very important difference exists, Brexit.

The sheer amount of uncertainty that exists because of Brexit has resulted in low growth compared to its peers and its pre-referendum levels, businesses are reluctant to invest and the consumer squeeze is taking its toll. The economy may well have shown more resilience than many feared prior to the referendum but is this really the kind of environment that the central bank should be raising rates in? If not, why did they raise by 25 basis points in November?

The central bank will naturally point to the above target inflation as warranting a hike which would be fair, assuming they believed it would remain at those levels of exceed it, which is debatable. This would also indicate a willingness to raise more if inflation remains well above target. While it’s likely to have peaked, it’s not expected to fall very far for a while which is why people may be anticipating further hikes.

Another possibility could be that they wanted to reverse the emergency post-Brexit rate cut which many Brexiteers criticized at the time and some others have questioned the need for since. Especially when you consider that the central bank was reluctant to move below 0.5% throughout the aftermath of the global financial crisis and eurozone debt crisis. If lower rates were seen as risky or unnecessary then, can they possibly be warranted now? If not and this was behind November’s decision, are the markets wrong in anticipating another hike this year and more after?

Gold Slides to 4-Week Low as Stock Markets Settles Down

This could become a lot clearer in the coming meetings and Thursday should offer some early insight, particularly as the inflation report includes growth and inflation forecasts. Any indication that policy makers are in no rush to raise again could see markets pare back expectations resulting in lower yields on UK debt which could in turn weigh on the pound. We may not get this on Thursday though, assuming we do at all, as they may opt to gradually soften their stance over a number of meetings, particularly if Brexit negotiations aren’t progressing as planned. Ultimately, these will have a major bearing on how interest rates move over the three year forecast period.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

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The FTSE 100 may also be sensitive to the BoE event on Thursday, given its inverse relationship with the pound. A stronger pound has typically weighed on the index due to the external exposure of the companies that make up the index, while a weaker pound has been positive for it, as seen in the aftermath of the referendum. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the FTSE, the last couple of days in particular as volatility has returned in force and equities have been sent into a tailspin lower. A strengthening pound – should the BoE release bullish forecasts and adopt a hawkish tone – may not help matters.

FTSE and GBP Trade Weighted Index Correlation

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon