- Heavy speculation long ago priced in the Dollar’s yield advantage, which undercut the response to the Fed’s hike Wednesday
- Where USD carry gained little traction, the Fed’s acceleration adds greater pressure on over-extended risk appetite
- The ECB is facing a policy decision more akin to the Fed’s 2014 shift, but it too may connect more readily to risk trends
See how retail traders are positioning in EUR/USD, other key Dollar pairs and global equity indices as monetary policy adds to concern already stoked by trade wars. Find speculative positioning on the DailyFX sentiment page.
A Fed Rate Hike and Upgraded Forecasts Shakes the Wrong Market Pillar
The Federal Reserve triggered a speculative response from the markets this past session, but it wasn’t exactly the reaction from the Dollar and risk assets that most had anticipated. And, that is perhaps a sign of where the speculative tide is rising. Accounting for the US central bank’s event Wednesday, the top line outcome was a 25 basis point hike to the target range bringing it to 1.75 to 2.00 percent. That was fully expected and thereby fully discounted by the broader market. That said, the greater nuance from the ‘quarterly’ events didn’t disappoint. In the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP), the group modestly improved its forecasts for growth, inflation and employment. The figure that traders were looking at however was the outlook for interest rates. There, the median rate forecast rose by 25 basis points to 2.325 percent – or four full 25 basis point hikes through 2018. That is an unmistakable upgrade from the March assessment of three hikes. Yet, as hawkish as the headlines were from this event, the details offered reason for restraint. Though the forecast is now officially four full rate hikes versus three, the actual change from those members voting was slight – really a technicality or rounding error. What’s more, where the Fed is leveraging an advantage for the Dollar, we see the market increasingly unsettled in its pursuit of risk trends and favoring short-term capital gains rather than long-term income.
Why a Fed Upgrade Earned the Dollar Limited Traction but Raises Capital Market Risk
For those that have been trading FX or following interest rates for their investments over the past few years, it is no surprise that the Federal Reserve is the most hawkish major central bank – by a wide margin. The US central bank began tightening its monetary policy (actual rate hikes) back in December 2015 and has more or less maintained a gradual pace of tightening since. This put US policy in distinct contrast to all of its largest peers. In fact, in 2017, the Fed put in for three rate hikes when most of its global counterparts maintained or expanded accommodative monetary policy. And yet, the Greenback steadily lost ground through the year. Why is that? First the markets are forward looking. When the Fed moved to taper, it signaled their intention to start down a path or normalization that would contrast to the ECB, BoJ, BoE and others. This earned the Dollar remarkable gains starting in 2014, well before its first rate hike. This highlights another unique aspect of the market: there was greater appetite for capital gains versus ‘income’ (dividend, carry, yield, etc). In other words, the market valued the undervalued perspective where the start of rate hikes would start the flow of capital into the US, but there was little actual interest in holding long-term exposure to collect a 1.00 or even 2.00 percent annual carry. Slightly increasing the yield advantage doesn’t overcome the serious limitation that yields globally are extremely low such that the risk-reward of long-term buy-and-hold is unprecedented in how unattractive it is. Add to that the implications of tighter monetary policy calling into question how far the markets have reached based on the low volatility and low yield supporting years of speculative stretch, and we undermine the whole reason the Dollar advanced in the first place.
The ECB Decision Is More Tuned to Speculation, A Greater Threat to Risk Trends
Ahead, the top event risk is the European Central Bank rate decision. Of the three major central bank rate decision this week, the ECB’s arguably represents the bigger event for its own currency and can leverage a greater sway over speculative trends than the Fed’s actual move to tighten. It may seem counterintuitive at first blush that a high probability hold in policy can lead to greater market response than a realized hike; but when we consider the market’s penchant for looking ahead and the influence of changing tides for broad risk trends, the potential for the European authority is easier to understand. Through the remarks of key ECB officials over the past few weeks, anticipation for a definitive taper has hit reached levels of virtual certainty across the speculative rank. Of course, this expectation creates the same skew that the Fed faced whereby it is easier to disappoint than impress; but the impact of meeting or exceeding forecasts can more readily translate into market movement. The current situation for the Euro is similar to what the Dollar experienced in 2014. That said, 2017’s remarkable rally likely signals the speculative anticipation has already found its way into the currency’s pricing. Furthermore, if this well-known dove starts its long climb out of extreme accommodation, it can more definitively shift global monetary policy towards a hawkish bearing and definitively disrupts the monetary policy – speculation connection.
Keeping Tabs on ‘Other’ Themes
Between the Fed and ECB policy changes, it is easy to have our attention pulled into the influence of developed market monetary policy. However, we should also consider the other high profile events and themes that are set to define our course forward. For themes, trade wars has been conveniently shoved to the backdrop but it remains very much in flux and represents a prominent risk to risk exposure moving forward. As for event risk, the Pound has itself been remarkably active for headline fodder – it just so happens, there are offsetting fundamental winds to keep the Sterling from establishing a clear range. This past session, the run of May inflation data was headlined by a 2.4 percent headline CPI and 2.1 percent core figure which puts little pressure on the BoE to accelerate or abandon its early monetary policy shift. Meanwhile, the crunch votes in Parliament have rendered support for Prime Minister May’s government with votes against requirement to stay in the single market and the PM to return to negotiation without a Brexit agreement. This not particularly encouraging for the outlook in the UK, but it does narrow the possible outcomes and thereby reduce ‘risk’. We discuss all of this and more in today’s Trading Video.
If you want to download my Manic-Crisis calendar, you can find the updated file here.
A Complete Lack of a Cohesive Government Blights Sterling
Fundamental Forecast for GBP: Neutral
Sterling (GBP) Talking Points:
- No Meaningful Vote. No Leadership. No EU Concessions. No Brexit.
- Year-end market conditions make Sterling positions foolhardy.
The DailyFX Q4GBP Forecast is available to download.
In current market conditions, and with the total lack of a cohesive Brexit plan, trading Sterling is nigh on impossible to recommend from a risk- reward stance, leaving our outlook neutral even though the path of least resistance for the British Pound is pointing lower.
Over the past week, the meaningful vote in Parliament for PM May’s Brexit plan was cancelled, the Prime Minister won a vote of confidence – although 117 of her party voted against her – and her visit to Brussels to ask for more concessions to help solve the Irish backstop impasse were roundly rejected by the EU.
As we stand there are a few scenarios that may play out in the short-term, nearly all damaging for the British Pound. The calls for the PM to resign may be listened to by Theresa May, unlikely but still a possibility – the opposition may call for her to step-down, more likely but the Labour Party is currently divided on its Brexit stance – the EU offers some meaningful concessions to help the bill get through Parliament, again highly unlikely – no agreement and the UK goes to WTO rules, looking possible – and finally another Brexit Referendum, a view now gaining traction and a real possibility. While a second Brexit Referendum, and a likely win for Remain, would boost Sterling, the run-up to this break with democracy will weigh heavily on the British Pound.
In a nutshell – if a Government is unable to lead and inspire confidence, putting a value on its currency is impossible.
GBPUSD Four-Hour Price Chart (October – December 14, 2018)
IG Client Sentiment data show 62.8% of traders are net-long GBPUSD. We typically take a contrarian view to crowd sentiment, and the fact traders are net-long suggests that GBPUSD prices may continue to fall. However, the combination of recent daily and weekly positional changes give us a mixed trading bias.
— Written by Nick Cawley, Analyst
To contact Nick, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Nick on Twitter @nickcawley1
Other Weekly Fundamental Forecasts:
Is Gold Posed to Lose its Luster?
GOLD PRICE FUNDAMENTAL FORECAST: NEUTRAL
- Gold’s recent bullish breakout may come under pressure despite strong safe-haven demand
- A strong US Dollar notching year-to-date highs to limit further advances in gold
- Prospect of a Federal Reserve rate hike pause could shoot the precious metal higher
GOLD PRICE FUNDAMENTAL FORECAST: NEUTRAL
Over the last 5 days of trading, XAUUSD declined 0.72% as investors anxious over slowing global growth sent the US Dollar higher. Although risk-off sentiment should send the precious metal higher, gains in the Greenback overpowered bullish bids for gold. A higher US Dollar makes purchasing gold denominated in America’s currency relatively more expensive thus limiting upside.
Looking to next week, focus will shift to the Federal Reserve as markets await the highly anticipated decision by the central bank’s Federal Open Markets Committee on monetary policy. Markets are currently pricing a 77 percent chance that the Fed will raise its benchmark policy interest rate for the fourth time this year according to the futures market implied probability.
In general, Gold has an inverse relationship with interest rates due to the precious metal not yielding any cash flows like debt instruments. Higher rates result in weakened demand for the commodity as alternative assets such as US Treasuries provide a higher rate of return. If the Fed surprises markets and pauses next week or makes any material downward change to the Fed’s dot-plot, gold could ascend quickly on back of lower future interest rate expectations.
Eyes will also closely watch for the release of several key economic indicators out of America next week. If actual results miss expectations, risk-off sentiment should continue and further boost demand for gold. However, fears over a slowing global economy will incite further rotation of capital from stocks to bonds with investors flocking to the safety of US Treasuries.
For a list of global economic events and data releases, check out our real-time Economic Calendar.
As international buying of Uncle Sam’s bonds increases, foreigners must convert their currency into US Dollars. This drives up demand for the Greenback which becomes a headwind for gains in gold due to the inverse relationship between the two assets.
A third key driver to take note of that will determine gold’s next move higher or lower will be the performance of the Chinese Yuan. As the damaged Asian economy continues to experience downward pressure amid worsening economic data due to the ongoing trade war with the United States, the Dollar may appreciate further against its Chinese counterpart.
The importance of USDCNY to gold is seen in their strong negative correlation. Trade talks between the world’s largest economic powerhouses will largely drive returns for the currencies with the CNY benefiting from any progress President Xi can make with President Trump towards de-escalation tension or reaching a deal.
Due to the mixed event risks and waning bullish technical indicators, the forecast for XAU will be neutral over the week of December 17. Take a look at client sentiment for insight on client positioning and trader bearish or bullish biases.
–Written by Rich Dvorak, Junior Analyst for DailyFX
–Follow Rich on Twitter for real time market updates @RichDvorakFX
Other Weekly Fundamental Forecasts:
Euro Shorts in Charge on Tri-break
EUR/USD Technical Highlights:
- Triangle finally broke, has Euro rolling downhill
- November low, Nov ’17 t-line initially targeted
- Must be cautious once at support, may put in floor
Let us help you. DailyFX has guides ranging from forecasts to trade ideas to education all in one location – DailyFX Trading Guides.
Triangle finally breaks, has Euro rolling downhill
Friday’s breakdown finally put the Euro outside of the triangle it had been forming over the course of the past month. It’s been an anticipated event, but confirmation was needed first before running with a more aggressive short bias.
Looking lower there is support not too far away. First up is the November low at 11215, followed by the lower trend-line extending over from November of last year; resides around roughly 11180. The way EUR/USD has been trading we’ll want to pay close attention to how it reacts once support is met.
The moves over the past few months haven’t been sustained for very long and this could be another unsustainable drive lower. With that in mind, from a tactical standpoint if the Euro starts to turn up from one of the aforementioned levels then it may be best to call it a wrap as a quick counter-trend bounce could develop.
If, however, selling pressure increases and a break below support unfolds, then perhaps a little momentum may kick in towards near 11100 or worse. It seems unlikely we will see too much power given not only the Euro’s behavior in past months but also because there is only about a week left in the year of full market participation before we go into ‘holiday’ mode. However, even as such, watch and follow the price action first.
Traders are generally long EUR/USD, see the IG Client Sentiment page to see how this acts as a contrarian indicator and is supportive of lower prices.
EUR/USD Daily Chart (Levels, lines to watch)
EUR/USD 4-hr Chart (Triangle broke Friday morning)
—Written by Paul Robinson, Market Analyst
You can follow Paul on Twitter at@PaulRobinsonFX
Other Weekly Fundamental Forecast:
Latest News5 days ago
Pot analyst says brewer Constellation is a top stock idea in 2019
Forex7 days ago
Kiwi Dollar Down Trend Back in Play?
Forex6 days ago
US Dollar Bounces from Support; EUR/USD Attempts to Break Congestion
Latest News6 days ago
ICEYE first image of Spain from all-seeing satellite constellation
Forex6 days ago
Dow Takes a Dip Into Breakdown Territory, Pound Stays There after Brexit Vote Cancelled
Forex7 days ago
Weekly Fundamental Forecast:Trade Wars are Heating Up, Brexit Faces a Fork, Fed Intent Blurs
Forex6 days ago
Sterling (GBP) Directionless – Will Meaningful Brexit Vote Take Place?
Latest News5 days ago
Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya faces extradition from the UK