background background background

FX Update: Powell brings back the hike-until-it-breaks narrative.

Forex 5 minutes to read
Strats-Hardy-88x88
John Hardy

Head of FX Strategy

Summary:  After the odd tapping on the brakes at the May 4 FOMC meeting, when the Fed wanted to take the idea of 75-basis point rates off the table, Fed Chair Powell reminded the market of its mission to ensure that it will not let up on policy tightening until it has achieved a sustained drop in inflation. Elsewhere, the sterling squeeze is fading fast and the status of key USD charts is pivotal.


FX Trading focus: Powell puts back on the hawkish hat, GBP squeeze fading fast, USDCAD spotlight

Fed Chair Powell reminds us of the Fed’s mission in saying that the Fed “won’t hesitate at all” to take the Fed Funds rate above neutral, and that “what we need to see is inflation coming down in a clear and convincing way, and we’re going to keep pushing until we see that.” Powell admitted that taking levels above neutral could bring some pain and a rise in the unemployment rate. End-2022 Fed expectations rose about 10 basis points yesterday and this morning were at 2.82%, just shy of the 2.88% cycle highs from before the May 4 FOMC meeting, at which Powell discouraged the idea of hiking more than 50 basis points at a time (why?). This only offered the USD a modicum of support overnight as risk sentiment absorbed the news without much fuss.

GBP shorts caught in quite the squeeze yesterday, likely aggravated badly by positioning, which is quite heavily bearish in the US futures market and in general. Yesterday I mentioned the very strong payrolls data as a driver, but there was also the news that the UK government may be considering tax cuts, including a lowering of the VAT, as well as cost-of-living support for the most vulnerable citizens. In the first instance, this could eventually help ease inflation levels and thus allow the Bank of England to hike more than previously expected, but the follow-on thinking is that it could also keep demand higher than it would be otherwise and continue to driver extreme external deficits for the UK, eroding the sovereign UK balance sheet and therefore possibly trust in sterling as well. Sterling has surrendered much of yesterday’s gains – watching for a capitulation again in GBPUSD, while the EURGBP has bounced back above the existential 0.8450 area that  was pivotal on the way up. A very choppy chart there.

USDCAD and US vs. Canada Housing spotlight
The CAD has received a double dose of support from the recent strong bounce in risk sentiment and crude oil prices pulling into the top of the range and beyond at times recently. But let’s look a bit further ahead at the inevitable gathering storm that is set to hit the housing market in coming months, after yields have lurched sharply higher. The headline is that if an ugly housing slowdown lies ahead, it will hit Canada’s economy with far more force than it will the US economy. Construction itself contributes about 75% more to GDP in Canada than the US (about 7.5% vs. 4.3%), and private balance sheets in Canada are far more levered, with notable local housing bubbles in Toronto and Vancouver making UBS world top ten list (at #2 and #6) of worst housing bubbles in 2021. The Greater Toronto area, by the way, represents over 17% of the Canadian population. I have better data on the US market and can see solidifying signs in leading indicators that the US housing market is set for a slowdown, including yesterday’s worst of the cycle drop in the NAHB for the May data point, which fell 8 points to 69 versus 75 expected and 77 in April. The latest Housing Starts and Building Permits data is up today (for April), although this lags the NAHB historically by about six months in directional terms. US Pending home sales have also rolled over as discussed in today’s Saxo Market Call podcast and are another leading indicator. So, while near term, an additional boost to sentiment and energy prices could see a break-down in USDCAD, the Canadian economy will face disproportionately large end-of-cycle pressures once the recession arrives, so clouds remain over the cycle outlook for the loonie. Chart thoughts below for USDCAD

Chart: USDCAD
The USDCAD chart has retreated to critical levels for bulls, as a significant punch below 1.2800 makes the chart look a lost cause for the bulls (arguably, the last, last gasp area is just ahead of 1.2700 at the prior pivot lows or even 1.2660 if using the 61.8% retracement and the 200-day moving average, although the reversal back down through 1.2900-50 has already been a disappointment after that level to the upside was broken. An impulsive recovery back above 1.3000 to put the momentum back on track higher.

18_05_2022_JJH_Update_01
Source: Saxo Group

Underwhelming wage price data for Q1 from Australia overnight, which rose a mere 0.7% QoQ and 2.4% YoY, both 0.1% below expectations. This is meant to be the key data that would drive the RBA to accelerate its tightening regime if it provided evidence of a wage price spiral. Alas, the AUD seems more focused on hopes for China lifting Covid restrictions and swings in risk sentiment. The 0.7000-0.7050 zone remains the tactical resistance focus, with bears possibly needing to retreat back to 0.7200-50 if it does not hold.

Table: FX Board of G10 and CNH trend evolution and strength.
The USD is losing steam in a trending sense, and would need a solid new impulsive move higher soon to avoid a further breakdown in key pairs, and versus the G10 currencies generally.

18_05_2022_JJH_Update_02
Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

Table: FX Board Trend Scoreboard for individual pairs.
USDCAD is on the verge of flipping into a positive territory on the trend readings if it can’t rally soon. Also note the EURGBP rally hanging on by a thread here.

18_05_2022_JJH_Update_03
Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

Upcoming Economic Calendar Highlights (all times GMT)

  • 1230 – US Apr. Housing Starts and Building Permits
  • 1230 – Canada Apr. CPI
  • 1230 – Canada Apr. Home Price Index
  • 2000 – US Fed’ Harker (Non-voter) to speak
  • 2350 – Japan Apr. Trade Balance
  • 0130 – Australia Apr. Employment Data

Disclaimer

The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service and access to Analysis permitting a person to view and/or use content available on or via the website. This content is not intended to and does not change or expand on the execution-only service. Such access and use are at all times subject to (i) The Terms of Use; (ii) Full Disclaimer; (iii) The Risk Warning; (iv) the Rules of Engagement and (v) Notices applying to Saxo News & Research and/or its content in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of hyperlinks on the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group by which access to Saxo News & Research is gained. Such content is therefore provided as no more than information. In particular no advice is intended to be provided or to be relied on as provided nor endorsed by any Saxo Bank Group entity; nor is it to be construed as solicitation or an incentive provided to subscribe for or sell or purchase any financial instrument. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. As such no Saxo Bank Group entity will have or be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information which is available on Saxo News & Research or as a result of the use of the Saxo News & Research. Orders given and trades effected are deemed intended to be given or effected for the account of the customer with the Saxo Bank Group entity operating in the jurisdiction in which the customer resides and/or with whom the customer opened and maintains his/her trading account. Saxo News & Research does not contain (and should not be construed as containing) financial, investment, tax or trading advice or advice of any sort offered, recommended or endorsed by Saxo Bank Group and should not be construed as a record of our trading prices, or as an offer, incentive or solicitation for the subscription, sale or purchase in any financial instrument. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, would be considered as a marketing communication under relevant laws.

Please read our disclaimers:
Notification on Non-Independent Investment Research (https://www.home.saxo/legal/niird/notification)
Full disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/legal/disclaimer/saxo-disclaimer)
Full disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/legal/saxoselect-disclaimer/disclaimer)

Saxo Bank A/S (Headquarters)
Philip Heymans Alle 15
2900
Hellerup
Denmark

Contact Saxo

Select region

International
International

Trade responsibly
All trading carries risk. Read more. To help you understand the risks involved we have put together a series of Key Information Documents (KIDs) highlighting the risks and rewards related to each product. Read more

This website can be accessed worldwide however the information on the website is related to Saxo Bank A/S and is not specific to any entity of Saxo Bank Group. All clients will directly engage with Saxo Bank A/S and all client agreements will be entered into with Saxo Bank A/S and thus governed by Danish Law.

Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc, registered in the US and other countries and regions. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC.