FX Trading focus: Commodity FX vulnerable on further CNH weakness
As we look at the impact of the sharp Chinese yuan weakening that began a week ago and accelerated thereafter until yesterday’s “check” from Chinese authorities, the clearest losers have been currencies closely linked with direct export exposure to China, including especially commodity-linked currencies as commodities have been marked lower on the surging US dollar and Chinese demand concerns. The Caixin March Services PMI dropped to 42 and is expected even lower for April, suggesting powerful contraction.
On that score, the Aussie is doubly exposed and has tumbled lower just after reaching new broad highs on heavy anticipation of rising commodity prices, especially those for which price rises have been aggravated due the war in Ukraine. China’s virus-fighting challenges and the risk of imminent shutdowns in the capital of Beijing are driving further concerns of economic weakness. The whole situation means both that commodity import demand could be set to remain weak or even weaken further for now and reflexively, that China can allow itself the luxury of revaluing its currency in lower to help offset the downside risk on the export side of the economy from having lost competitiveness to peers in Asia – particularly Japan – all without new inflationary risks as commodity prices are, after all falling. Thus, as long as China is pursuing a considerable adjustment lower in its currency basket, to the tune of 5-7% perhaps on a broad basis, the weakness could risk having a multiplicative effect into commodity FX. Already, the most commodity-associated of the smaller G-10 currencies have weakened and could weaken further (the CAD somewhat protected by its proximity to the US and on-again, off-again correlation with the USD in the crosses. As noted below, NOK bears watching for aggravated volatility if it trades through key levels.
Pursuing the logic further and the knock-on effects into the rest of a FX, a decent consolidation in commodity prices could cool expectations for central bank hawkishness, even if only for a while after the late stunning rise in prices. This could send bond yields into consolidation mode lower and boost the Japanese yen and Swiss franc and even the euro to a degree in some crosses.
Another winner in the crosses could continue to be the Swedish krona in crosses like NOKSEK (although probably more than half of that consolidation has already occurred) while I also like fading EURSEK upside eventually, though concerned that a risk-off spike could yet see another spike higher. Speaking of NOK, key levels have been in play in USDNOK in particularly, where stops could be lined up above 9.2000 and primed for a considerable spike higher should crude oil prices correct through 98-100 in Brent. Similarly, we’re still far away, but the 10.00 level in EURNOK deserves attention if approached.
Within G-10 FX, the AUDJPY has often been an excellent proxy for global risk appetite, but that status has been challenged, to say the least, in the recent cycle, as risk sentiment has suffered in part this year due to the sense that central banks are on a warpath against inflation, with the RBA to play some significant catchup later this year with other central bank expectations if wage pressures finally show signs of picking up. The AUD has also gotten a boost from the war in Ukraine due to its formidable commodity export portfolio, which includes massive LNG and wheat exports. But with concerns for Chinese demand and a modest CNY devaluation afoot, together with recent cooling in commodity prices, the Aussie has come under some pressure here and could be in for more, especially if broad USD strength and CNY weakness continues to see a decline in global commodity prices. At the same time, those same developments could boost the Japanese yen if global growth fears keep longer yields tame to slightly lower. In any case, AUDJPY has suffered a sharp reversal of its incredible run higher over the last few session. Another wave lower could see it tst the trend support into perhaps the first major Fibo just below 90, but possibly even all the way to the more existential (for the bulls) 86.25, should we get a wider risk deleveraging that drives global yields into a more pronounced consolidation.