FX Trading focus: The liquidity overlay, RBA and FOMC
Friday saw US equity markets closing the week in a deep funk, poised at the lows for the cycle ahead of this Wednesday’s FOMC meeting. At the same time, US treasury yields jump higher all along the yield curve despite the slightest of misses on the year-on-year March PCE inflation data, both for the headline and for the core (both 0.1% lower than expected at 6.6%/5.2%, respectively). Looking at how the market traded late Friday and to open this week, liquidity features prominently in how markets are trading, with the G10 smalls generally down while the G3 (and CHF and very oddly GBP) were generally flat or indifferent versus one another.
In for particularly rough sledding have been the Antipodeans, certainly not due to any lack of central bank policy tightening credibility priced into the forward curve as yields continue to march higher nearly everywhere It’s somewhat jarring to see the 2-year AU vs US yield differential close to the highs for the year while. Rather, the new angle for the Aussie is likely the weakness in industrial metals on Chinese demand concerns and the recent sharp devaluation of the renminbi that has all of us wondering how far China wants to shift its currency to the weak side after it tracked the strong dollar higher so persistently in recent months. That devaluation is, in turn, likely throwing the JPY a bone of support despite the yawning yield differentials that have made the JPY so unattractive while the BoJ won’t allow JGB’s to adjust higher out to the cap on 10-years at 0.25%.
Similarly, we noted that a hawkish Riksbank on Thursday has entirely failed to impress this market, as the SEK knee-jerk rally on the back of that meeting has been erased and then some, continuing to underline that the krona is supremely sensitive to global risk sentiment.
A very important week for global yields as the market is expecting for the Fed to deliver its first 50 basis rate hike in 22 years and to guide for a string of 50-basis point hikes for the first time since 1994. Given how vastly the market has repriced the forward curve, I can’t help but wonder if we have reached at least a near-term peak for the cycle in treasury yields, with longer yields possibly even falling even if the Fed were to surprise with a move all the way to 1.00% on Wednesday (a 62.5 basis point hike that would rid us of the 25-bp range of the current Fed funds lower and upper bounds) which would be a sign that it is willing to surprise beyond market expectations and to hike more now to get ahead of the credibility curve. In any case, US yields are the key to the reaction function across markets. Would a hawkish Fed take short rates nowhere, longer rates slightly lower and risky assets also lower due to the impression that the Fed is willing to trigger a recession to get ahead of inflation? Or do we simply see the Fed meeting the market where it is at and then risk sentiment broadly improving for a while on a “buy-the-fact” reaction? Conviction is rather low on my part, but if we see a “risk-off” reaction post-FOMC that sees longer yields flat to lower we could get the US dollar going in different directions on such a pattern: with USDJPY lower and AUDUSD lower as well by the end of the week. Technically, the first time of a USDJPY rally failure would be a close solidly back below perhaps 128.50. The momentum indicators on shorter time frames (for example 10-day stochastics shown below) are bearishly divergent.