USD in the crosshairs USD in the crosshairs USD in the crosshairs

FX Update: US yield jump brings USD resilience if not a reversal.

Forex 4 minutes to read
John Hardy

Head of FX Strategy, Saxo Bank Group

Summary:  US treasury yields at the long end of the yield curve jumped higher yesterday to multi-week highs, a challenge to widespread complacency across global markets. The USD found a modicum of support on the development, though this was insufficient to reverse the recent weakening trend. It will likely take a more determined rise in US yields and a tightening of financial conditions, possibly on further Fed pushback against market policy expectations, to spark a more significant USD comeback.


FX Trading focus: US yields jump, not yet enough to reverse recent USD dip

A very interesting shift in the US yield curve yesterday as long yields jumped aggressively higher, with the 30-year yield getting the most focus on a heavy block sale of US “ultra” futures and a softer than expected 30-year T-bond auction from the US treasury. The 30-year benchmark yield jumped as much as 15 basis points from the prior close, with the 10-year move a few basis points smaller. We shouldn’t over-interpret a single day’s action, but it is a technical significant development and if it extends, could be a sign of tightening liquidity as the Fed ups its sales of treasuries and even a sign that market concern is growing that the Fed will fail to get ahead of inflation.

As for the market reaction, the USD found some support, but it was modest stuff – somewhat surprisingly in the case of the normally very long-US-yield-sensitive USDJPY. Overnight, a minor shuffle in Japanese PMI Kishida’s cabinet has observers figuring that there is no real determined pushback yet against the Kuroda BoJ’s YCC policy, with focus more on bringing relief to lower income households struggling with price rises for essentials. Indeed, BoJ policy is only likely to come under significant pressure again if global yields pull to new cycle highs and the JPY finds itself under siege again. As for USDJPY, it has likely only peaked if long US yields have also peaked for the cycle.

Chart: EURUSD
EURUSD caught in limbo here, having pulled up through the resistance in the 1.0275+ area after a long bought of tight range trading, but not yet challenging through the next key layer of resistance into 1.0350+. It wouldn’t take much of a further reversal here to freshen up the bearish interest – perhaps a dip and close below 1.0250 today, together with a bit of follow through higher in US yields and a further correction in risk sentiment. Eventually, we look for the pair to challenge down well through parity if USD yields retest their highs and beyond.

Source: Saxo Group

Elsewhere – watching sterling here as broader sentiment may be at risk of rolling over and as we wind our way to the conclusion of the battle to replace outgoing Boris Johnson, with Liz Truss all but crowned. Her looser stance on fiscal prudence looks a sterling negative given the risks from UK external deficits. Her instincts seem pro-supply side on taxation, but the populist drag of cost-of-living issues has shown her to be quick to change her stripes – as she has often been, having reversed her position on many issues, including Brexit (was a former remainer). Today’s reminder of the yawning trade deficit (a current run rate of around 10% of GDP) and the energy/power situation together with dire supply side restraints on the UK economy have us looking for sterling weakness – a start would be a dip below 1.2100 in GBPUSD, which would reverse the reaction earlier this week to the US July CPI release.

The week ahead features an RBNZ on Wednesday (market nearly fully priced for another two meetings of 50 basis points each). NZDUSD has looked too ambitious off the lows – there is no strong external surplus angle for the kiwi like there is for the Aussie – might be a place to get contrarian to the recent price action if global risk sentiment is set to roll over again finally now that the VIX has pushed all the way to 20 (!).  A Norges Bank meeting on Thursday may see the bank hiking another 50 basis points as it continues to catch up to inflationary outcomes. The US FOMC minutes are up next Wednesday and may be a bit of a fizzle, given that the bulk of the easing financial conditions that the Fed would like to push back against came after the meeting.

Table: FX Board of G10 and CNH trend evolution and strength.
The US dollar hasn’t gotten much from the latest development in yields – watching the next couple of sessions closely for direction there, while also watching for the risk of more sterling downside, while NZD looks overambitious on the upside.

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

Table: FX Board Trend Scoreboard for individual pairs.
The EURGBP turn higher could follow through here – on the lookout for that development while also watching GBPUSD status in coming sessions and whether the EURUSD move higher also follows through as per comments on the chart above.

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

Upcoming Economic Calendar Highlights (all times GMT)

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