FX Update: USDJPY reversal attempt ahead of US treasury auctions

Forex 6 minutes to read

John Hardy

Head of FX Strategy

Summary:  The US dollar has been under broadening pressure lately, but USDJPY has rebounded sharply ahead of a series of large US treasury auctions this week and rebounding US long yields. Elsewhere, we wonder when resistance will arrive, if ever, for this run-up in US megacap equities and risk sentiment that has helped keep the USD on its back foot.


The most interesting change of recent behavior we note today is a sharp rise in USDJPY back above 107.00, arguably an incipient sign of a bullish reversal even if a bigger move is needed to more firmly reject the recent sell-off wave. More on USDJPY below. A likely key driver for that pair will be this week’s US treasury auctions of unprecedented size for the maturities on offer, including a $42 billion auction of 3-year notes today, a $32 billion auction of 10-year notes tomorrow and a $22 billion auction of 30-year T-bonds on Wednesday. Yields rose on Friday, but the range in the longer yields has been extremely tight. The auction outcomes and their interpretation could be important for the US dollar this week, which has fallen to interesting support areas in pairs like AUDUSD and USDCAD.

A strong auction results would seem to point to strong ongoing demand for safe haven debt and is USD positive, all other things equal (I.e., assuming other markets pay attention, which they may not if yields merely remain orderly and rangebound). A very weak result at these auctions would be a bit more interesting as it could suggest less international appetite for US debt. Sure, the Fed will keep the situation and yields under control with an eventual move to yield-curve-control in all likelihood, but any sense that the world is having a hard time absorbing the torrent of approximately $3 trillion in US treasury issuance over the next few months would be an interesting test for the USD.

Wrapping up Friday’s US and Canadian jobs reports, the headlines may hint at “not as bad as expected” but we find hardly any reason for cheer from these terrible numbers. In the Canadian case, the “expectations” seemed wildly pessimistic at -4 million, which population-adjusted would be the equivalent of about -40 million jobs lost in the US. As it was, the more than 2M jobs lost in Canada is bad enough and approximately at the same clip as the losses in the US. The market continues to ignore current data for the moment, no matter how bad, and it may not be until the June data cycle or later that we start to draw longer term conclusions on the shape of the recovery. As for the US average hourly earnings growth rising to 7.9% in April, this is clearly also misleading, as the new average is based on higher paying salaried positions that are left as it was a vast swath of lower-paying service jobs that were the first to go.

The week ahead looks important for the USD for the treasury auction angle, but may also have plenty of opportunity for inputs from the Fed, with two FOMC voters out speaking tomorrow (the very dovish and very concerned Kashkari and the Philadelphia Fed’s Harker) and Chair Powell himself speaking on Wednesday. Given the long wait for drawing conclusions on the shape of the recovery we note above, another key potential issue will be any new rise in US-China tensions, and any a-ha moments on the US election if polls begin to show a more persistent tilt against Trump’s fortunes (with those two issues possibly somewhat intertwined, as many GOP strategists favour an explicit anti-China strategy.)

Chart: USDJPY
USDJPY has executed something of an about face against the US dollar after the pair slid to a recent low, however a low that coincided with relative JPY weakness elsewhere and no signs of distress in the options market (USDJPY risk reversal showing an persistent, relatively rapid evaporation of premiums for puts). This move above 107.00 today looks tactically interesting, but arguably we need a bigger move above 108.00 and the 200-day moving average to excite more interesting in upside potential. We also watch US yields this week over the incoming auctions noted above and broader risk sentiment. Strong auctions resulting in sharply lower US yields and weak risk appetite could keep the pair rangebound or slow any upside potential as the JPY and the USD would likely prove safe haven currencies in those conditions.

 

11_05_2020_JJH_Update_01
Source: Saxo Group

The G-10 rundown

USD – turning a bit stronger after weakness against the smaller currencies this morning – this week feels like an important test for whether the USD maintains support.

EUR – very pressing medium- and longer term questions on EU existential concerns as new fronts open up between the German Constitutional court and EU institutions, but pricing this for the short term difficult. Watching EURJPY resistance around 116.00 and for a possible EURUSD breakdown if the price moves below 1.0750.

JPY – US yields an important factor here and risk reversals continue to remove the premium for USDJPY puts. But still suspect JPY in broader terms would firm on any new downdraft in global risk sentiment and thus carry trades.

GBP – tensions around the post-Brexit transition period terms of trade are creeping back into the headlines, and the next few weeks should produce a further sense of where things are headed there, though still somewhat early days with Covid19 fallout distractions as far as the eye can see. EURGBP seems very unwilling to break down for now.

CHF – the latest sight deposit data showing SNB still intervening, but at a slower pace – looks like 1.0500 in EURCHF is the line in the sand for now.

AUD – AUDUSD had a go at the 0.6570 resistance overnight and has stumbled rather quickly toward session lows as of this writing – momentum beginning to roll over if we see a weak close today – watching US-China tension risks on top of correlation with general risk sentiment.

CAD – That 1.3850 twice-touched area in USDCAD an important support for bulls keeping the focus higher, with weeks of rangebound price action meaning we need a very large impulse move and rally above 1.4250 to excite interest in further upside potential.

NZD – easy to argue for long term AUDNZD upside on the RBNZ’s more aggressive style and the secular rise in Australia’s current account surplus, but US-China tension headline risk could drive a sudden setback at any moment. Options, anyone?

SEK – EURSEK appears to have completely a major topping move by having retraced as far as 10.57 from the top over 11.20 (the highest daily close) , but plenty of room for a throwback rally if risk sentiment ever consolidates

NOK – EURNOK still hasn’t taken out the 11.00 area and arguably needs a longer term crude oil price break-up to get the ball rolling.

 

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