FX Trading focus: Dollar down, but may not stay down for long.
The US dollar has tumbled since yesterday, mostly on the drop in longer US treasury yields, with the move lower in yields and the US dollar persisting in today’s European session as yields continue to run lower. The US 10-year treasury yield benchmark is already back near the 4.00% level that was important on the way up. Key technical levels have fallen in most important USD pairs, including the parity level in EURUSD, the 1.1500 level in GBPUSD, and the 0.6400 area in AUDUSD. USDJPY is also under pressure, trading below 147.00 as of this writing, with the next important level up at 145.00, a level I have a hard time seeing falling unless US treasury yields drop well below that 4.00% mark.
The proximate trigger for the move yesterday, judging from its timing, was arguably the release of the August S&P CoreLogic Home price data, which showed the 20-city index dropping -1.32% MoM, far more than the -0.8% expected and with the July data revised some 25 bps lower to -0.69%. Given that 15 months ago, US mortgage rates were still only 10 basis points above record lows and then rose to more than 20-year highs by late September, we can expect a further brutal correction in housing prices. Less noticed was the ugly drop in the US October Consumer Confidence survey, where the present situation index fell sharply and to a new 18-month low. This survey correlates tightly with the jobs market.
As we discussed on this morning’s Saxo Market Call podcast, a few “events” and signals have encouraged a conspiracy theory that the Biden Administration is doing all it can to tilt the odds going into the US mid-term elections, with the Fed helping by wanting to avoid attention entirely. The most important for the US dollar and US yields in the near term would be the idea that the Fed doesn’t want to make any further waves for the moment and would prefer to fly under the radar at next Wednesday’s FOMC meeting. It probably would want to wax a bit less hawkish soon anyway, given that expectations for the Fed Funds rate had reached the psychologically significant 5.00% level recently. The WSJ article at the weekend from “Fed whisperer” Nick Timiraos added some fuel to this narrative. As well, US Treasury Secretary Yellen expressed interest earlier this week in carrying out treasury “buybacks”, supposedly to improve market liquidity after consulting with primary dealers. Such buybacks make some sense, given that the Treasury can reduce the nominal national debt burden by retiring low-coupon debt trading at a significant discount to par and then refinancing at higher rates. Then again, it’s just a shuffle beyond the very short term, as issuance would simply have to increase by the same amount down the road as committed to such buybacks now.
So – how long can the squeeze on USD longs stretch? Arguably, at current levels, the market has front-run a bit of a dovish shift in the Fed at next Wednesday’s FOMC meeting, so that will be the next key test, with the immediate test in tactical, price action terms around the levels noted above in key USD pairs that were taken out yesterday and this morning. The window of the next two weeks (through the tabulation of the mid-term results after the Tuesday, November 8 election) is an important test of the secular USD trend, to be sure.
EURUSD surged above the local resistance briefly already on Monday, but followed through with more force yesterday after the release of the latest house price data in the US, with the parity level falling this morning in European trading. That level was pivotal, as is easily visible on the chart, but ahead of it, the extremely well defined and persistent falling trend channel was already broken. If the move holds, the next obvious focus is on the pivot high near 1.0200, with an even more significant level up at 1.0350. Sentiment has brightened in Europe as the pressure on gas and power prices has eased tremendously in the wake of panic topping up of gas storage facilities just as fresh LNG ships have arrived with nowhere to put the gas in the face of extremely balmy weather across much of Europe. But forward prices know that Europe’s energy woes are far from solves. Also, let’s not forget we have an ECB meeting tomorrow, where the ECB may struggle to stay credibly hawkish beyond the expected 75 basis point hike, with longer term credibility issues around its QT plans and how it avoids “fragmentation” on weaker peripheral bond markets. But EURUSD bears would need a sharp reversal back through 0.9900 to suggest that this move has been a false dawn.