FX FX FX

FX Update: EURCHF lower has been the Teflon trade.

Forex 4 minutes to read
John Hardy

Head of FX Strategy, Saxo Bank Group

Summary:  A look across FX shows many of the usual suspects weakening with the recent bout of risk aversion, with commodity currencies near important levels versus the US dollar. While the JPY has traded erratically of late on conflicting themes and has not shown its safe haven status of yore, the Swiss franc has, managing to thrive when the focus is on inflation and when it is on weak risk sentiment as the SNB seems to have quietly stepped away from reining in franc strength.


FX Trading focus: EURCHF lower has been the Teflon trade

The most consistent trending pair in G10 FX of late has been the slide in EURCHF, which has even slipped below the prior six-plus-year low near 1.0500 over the last week. Remarkably, the pair has maintained its consistent ride lower through some remarkable jolts in the background, including the more hawkish shift from the Fed and the omicron news. This may suggest that the move is not being driven by strong speculative flows – which might have shown significant volatility in line with other currency pairs recently, but rather by consistent flows as the Swiss National Bank has apparently stepped away from the assumed stout defense of the 1.0500 level. The last two weeks of sight deposit data have shown no growth, i.e., no signs that the SNB is leaning against this move after doing so the prior four weeks. Also, when inflation fears dominate as they have at times recently, CHF strength is an easy way to avoid importing inflation without rocking the boat with monetary policy signals, while CHF strength is also a natural safe haven play when volatility spikes as it has in recent weeks. The consistent trend may be set to extend here, with parity in EURCHF a natural target.

Elsewhere in FX, most of the smaller currencies are lining up on the usual risk-on, risk-off fault-lines, with commodities currencies and Scandies all weak as sentiment has softened again today, although it will be interesting to see if oil prices can make a stand after the reversal of the sharp sell-off yesterday despite nominally bearish news. Big next levels coming into view include 1.3000 in USDCAD and 0.7000 in AUDUSD. On the strong side, the EUR, USD and JPY are jockeying for the upper hand in addition to the strong CHF noted. The reaction function around today’s US jobs report (can a strong average hourly earnings add further energy to Fed upside expectations on top of an already momentous shift, and how much will residual omicron uncertainty hold back that pricing for now?).

Chart: EURCHF
EURCHF has weakened steadily since mid September in line with the weakening in EURUSD, but far more steadily than the latter, as this trend has managed to sustain through recent volatility elsewhere and shifting focus. The technical situation is without remarkable variation and there are no signs that the SNB is leaning against the move of late. Could the move extend all the way to within reach of parity?

Source: Saxo Group

Elsewhere, notable BoE hawk Michael Saunders was cautious sounding in comments today on the omicron variant uncertainty, prompting the sharp slide in sterling today. He said that the omicron development is a key consideration for whether to hike in December and sees some advantages in the BoE waiting for omicron data, which may sideline any hike potential at the December 16 meeting, with the market currently putting low odds on a move (difficult to measure – the idea has developed that the BoE will hike 15 bps to 0.25%, with about a 5-7 bps of hiking priced). Saunders still favors policy tightening soon and said today that the rate rise would be limited if the BoE gets going soon.

Table: FX Board of G10 and CNH trend evolution and strength
The impressive CHF rising nearly all the way to the top of the table here, as the left/right split of the G10 currencies is nearly perfect, with all of the five “smalls” in the red, most of them deeply so.

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

Table: FX Board Trend Scoreboard for individual pairs.
Plenty of bright orange readings in the daily ATR shadings – these indicate very significant volatility relative to the last 1000 trading days (top 10% ranking), , while it is interesting to note something like the EURUSD supermajor still trading with still quite low intraday volatility. AUDNZD is trying to flip back to negative, while USDCHF and USDJPY have yet to follow through lower after their recent flips to the negative in the “trend” reading.

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

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