FX Trading focus: Risk off patterns across FX as USD and now JPY trade firmer
In this morning’s Saxo Market Call podcast, we looked at evidence suggesting risk conditions are worsening, particularly highlighting the Global Risk indicator, which has slipped into negative. This is an indicator I mostly use to assess the conditions for emerging market currencies, and given their recent woes (very importantly ex-CNH, which is heavily managed, to say the least) the indicator fits with the market action. The sharply stronger JPY today suggests that FX traders may be waking up to this kind of market input as well. US longer treasury yields are a very important factor for JPY direction, but so are credit conditions and carry-trade related currency weakness or strength for the bond-focused Japanese investments, particularly in EM in the most recent cycle, due to the lack of carry within G10.
EM credit spreads have widened modestly since bottoming out early in the summer, but the recent strong USD has administered quite a beating to many EM exchange rates, and this week’s Turkish lira devaluation (more below) has added to that story and I wonder if there is a bit of linkage from that into the stronger JPY this week after a brief stab at 115.00 in USDJPY on Tuesday. The NOKJPY chart below shows the no mercy squeeze that some consensus trades linked to commodities and relative central bank outlooks have suffered over the last month, but also the degree to which the weak euro and concerns for the EU outlook are dragging down peripheral European currencies (from SEK and NOK to CEE currencies). FX volatility has undergone a significant breakout over the last week, and a spike in the JPY could add considerable energy to that development. Of course, the Swiss franc is not in that category with the other EU peripheral currencies and it is remarkable that EURCHF has sliced through 1.0500 this quickly. Recent weekly sight deposit data shows the SNB putting up a defense, but apparently unable to hold the line and EURCHF is trading to 6-year lows.
Of course, adding specifically to the fresh Euro weakness this morning, we have Austria announcing a Covid lockdown and Germany’s health minister saying that it can’t rule out lockdowns for Germany.
Later today, watch out for BoE Chief Economic Pill out speaking, with an intriguing topic in Fed Vice Chair Clarida’s speech later today (“Global monetary policy coordination”).
The NOKJPY captures the whiplash inducing shifts on a number of fronts over the last month, as mentioned above, as over-ebullient NOK longs have been squeezed by crude oil shifting into a range-bound price action (and now under significant pressure today on European Covid lockdown news) and the very weak euro taking down pro-cyclical currencies at its periphery. There have been a number of major weak NOK episodes in Q4. The reversal here is taking on such a scale that it looks very significant and becomes a game changer if we get a reversal all the way back to the 12.00 area, hence reversing the entire recent rally wave. Other JPY crosses are threatening major breakdowns as well.