FX Update: Markets grinding their gears to start the week FX Update: Markets grinding their gears to start the week FX Update: Markets grinding their gears to start the week

FX Update: Markets grinding their gears to start the week

Forex 4 minutes to read
John Hardy

Head of FX Strategy

Summary:  Last week saw markets trying to close on a positive note despite weak US jobs data, perhaps as US fiscal stimulus hopes weighed. But this week is off to a rocky, with geopolitical concerns a sour note in the Asian session, while this morning is seeing fresh dark clouds over the status of Brexit talks.

Today’s FX Trading focus:

Markets grinding gears to start the week
The weak US jobs report didn’t yield much of a market reaction – even if it was a rather ugly report. The November nonfarm payrolls growth was the weakest for the cycle at only +245k jobs (and a lot of that number is based on statistical assumptions) versus +460k consensus expectations, while the drop in the unemployment rate to 6.7% from 6.9% was spoiled by the fact that the participation rate likewise dropped 0.2% to a lowly 61.5%. The market quickly brushed aside the figure and US treasuries ended the day sharply lower while the major US equity averages posted a new all time high close. Supposedly, the good cheer was on the prospects that a stimulus package will make its way through the US Congress soon since the Covid-19 numbers are raging at their worst yet in the US and demand a response.

But even with news that a US stimulus deal could be agreed as soon as today, markets are stumbling out of the starting gate to start the week. Some of the negative sentiment may be on the fresh signs of geopolitical tensions between the US and China as the former threatened sanctions on further individuals linked to China’s Hong Kong policy moves. “Profit taking” is just as likely a reason for the cautious tone in the Asian session, and the rejection of a significant portion of Friday’s developments this morning (yields backing off sharply and equity futures wilting, even if the US dollar is following through higher) suggests that we shouldn’t read too much into the Friday close. The greenback has a bit more room to run higher here without breaking things – but EURUSD, for example, needs to stay north of 1.2000 post-this Thursday’s ECB, for example, to keep the technical argument of a USD breakdown intact.

Brexit risks more severe than anticipated?
More seriously impacting markets in early European hours seems to be the fresh concern that ominous clouds remain over the Brexit negotiations, with reports of progress over the weekend on fisheries denied by the EU’s Barnier this morning. I still think this ends in some sort of agreement, at worst some vague agreement in principle that is actually a fudge to continue negotiating final terms but is declared as a deal by Boris Johnson to appear that the box has been ticked. However, while markets seem primed to pile into sterling on the announcement of a breakthrough before this latest sell-off, it now appears investors have been caught very much off-guard. I have long maintained that any sterling resurgence on a smooth Brexit could find a rather low ceiling, while wanting to keep an open mind on the risk that sterling still risks considerable further long term downside on its structural weakness and isolation and external deficits.

Regardless, EURGBP downside over the next six weeks through options is the preferred method for trading the friendliest of outcomes from this point, while GBPUSD puts out into March or beyond next year are a way to trade a post-Brexit hangover. After all, many of the same long-term bearish factors for the US are the same for the UK – if not worse, with the only offsetting factor the fact that the UK currency is already rather weak, if less so than it has been in the past. The UK runs an even large current account deficit as a percent of GDP, the BoE is aggressively de facto monetizing debt, and the financial services industry that kept sterling over-priced in past cycles faces a permanent downsizing.  Oh, and sterling is no reserve currency of note and likely to continue to lose out at the margin as a percentage of global FX reserves in coming years.

Cable edged above the huge 1.3500 level on Friday briefly as the US dollar traded at its weakest level for the cycle before bouncing back after the weak US jobs report. But now sterling has fallen out of bed to start the week as the weekend produced insufficient progress despite highest level talks between UK Prime Minister Johnson and the EU’s Ursula Von Der Leyen. If we end up with an ongoing stand-off that takes negotiations into next year, sterling could continue to suffer in the nearest term. And longer term, as noted above, UK structural concerns persist. Technically, the pair doesn’t start to breakdown until trading below perhaps 1.3000, and “the right” development can certainly change the near-term momentum just as violently back the other way. Expressing a view through options is a way to avoid headline risk.

Source: Saxo Group

Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Limited prepares and distributes information/research produced within the Saxo Bank Group for informational purposes only. In addition to the disclaimer below, if any general advice is provided, such advice does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of trading any financial instrument as trading can result in losses that exceed your initial investment. Please refer to our Analysis Disclaimer, and our Financial Services Guide and Product Disclosure Statement. All legal documentation and disclaimers can be found at https://www.home.saxo/en-au/legal/.

The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service. Access and use of Saxo News & Research and any Saxo Bank Group website are subject to (i) the Terms of Use; (ii) the full Disclaimer; and (iii) the Risk Warning in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group.

Saxo News & Research is provided for informational purposes, 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. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. No Saxo Bank Group entity shall be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information on Saxo News & Research.

To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, such 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.

None of the information contained here constitutes an offer to purchase or sell a financial instrument, or to make any investments.Saxo Capital Markets does not take into account your personal investment objectives or financial situation and makes no representation and assumes no liability as to the accuracy or completeness of the information nor for any loss arising from any investment made in reliance of this presentation. Any opinions made are subject to change and may be personal to the author. These may not necessarily reflect the opinion of Saxo Capital Markets or its affiliates.

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

Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Limited
Suite 1, Level 14, 9 Castlereagh St
Sydney NSW 2000

Contact Saxo

Select region


The Saxo trading platform has received numerous awards and recognition. For details of these awards and information on awards visit www.home.saxo/en-au/about-us/awards

Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Limited ABN 32 110 128 286 AFSL 280372 (‘Saxo’ or ‘Saxo Capital Markets’) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saxo Bank A/S, headquartered in Denmark. Please refer to our General Business Terms, Financial Services Guide, Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination to consider whether acquiring or continuing to hold financial products is suitable for you, prior to opening an account and investing in a financial product.

Trading in financial instruments carries various risks, and is not suitable for all investors. Please seek expert advice, and always ensure that you fully understand these risks before trading. Saxo Capital Markets does not provide ‘personal’ financial product advice, any information available on this website is ‘general’ in nature and for informational purposes only. Saxo Capital Markets does not take into account an individual’s needs, objectives or financial situation. The Target Market Determination should assist you in determining whether any of the products or services we offer are likely to be consistent with your objectives, financial situation and needs.

Apple, iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries. AppStore is a service mark of Apple Inc.

The information or the products and services referred to on this website may be accessed worldwide, however is only intended for distribution to and use by recipients located in countries where such use does not constitute a violation of applicable legislation or regulations. Products and Services offered on this website is not intended for residents of the United States and Japan.

Please click here to view our full disclaimer.