Head of FX Strategy, Saxo Bank Group
The Russian ruble is one of the weakest currencies on fears of new sanctions from the US side linked to election meddling, with measures on the table potentially focusing on Russian sovereign debt and/or sanctions against key Russian banks. The Russian central bank raised its forecast for anticipated net capital outflows to $30 billion versus an earlier estimate of $19 billion.
The South African rand weakened sharply today after recent strength as President Trump asked his Secretary of State to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers”.
Elsewhere, the Brazilian real is the latest meltdown candidate after TRY and ARS (Argentine peso) on election uncertainties, as the jailed leftist Lula is leading the polls ahead of the October election. The India rupee has also come under fire, but we continue to highlight that the key contagion risk that escalates the entire situation for EM and global markets is the Chinese renminbi and whether China insists on the CNY floor near 7.00.
EM currencies will be sensitive in the first instance to the signals from Powell tomorrow (see below) and in the second instance by China’s stance on the yuan if the USD resumes strengthening.
Elsewhere, the Australian dollar has been knocked for a loop on political uncertaint as PM Turnbull is facing a leaderhip challenge within his own coalition as the latter’s popularity has sunk in the polls. A number of his cabinet have resigned and the “Trump-esque” immigration minister Dutton is seen as eyeing the prize.
The USD longs have suffered a fitful, selective positioning squeeze ahead of this week’s main event, the Jackson Hole speech from Fed chair Powell tomorrow afternoon at 1400 GMT time. Market participants seem increasingly comfortable with predicting that the Powell Fed will cease its easing sooner rather than later, and the Federal Open Market Committee minutes flagged a number of concerns – especially on risks from trade policy and inverting the yield curve – that have encouraged this view.
Also sidelining USD bulls this week was Fed voter Bostic claiming that he wouldn’t vote for any hike that actually inverts the curve. And the most entertaining USD headwind was provided by Trump’s bellyaching on Fed hiking rates – something the Fed will ignore for now.
Before we predict that Powell will send out signals, however cautious, that he is set to wax dovish, or at least conditionally dovish, let’s recall that he has often focused on financial stability and that the St Louis Fed’s financial stress index has dropped back to a more neutral reading and US equities have been pushing all time highs recently.
As well, the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow for Q3 growth is well above 4% and the PCE inflation forecast for the same series is at 3% while the Fed’s underlying. If the market sells off in the wake of Powell’s speech tomorrow, it will not likely be down to a sudden dovish change of course from the Fed chair.
Not entirely sure where all of the enthusiasm has come from for the euro, perhaps the easing of focus on Italian debt spreads and sidelining of the Turkish lira meltdown (for now) have seen a covering of aggressive shorts of the single currency. Regardless, technically, the pair has executed a solid bullish reversal in the tactical perspective with the recovery well above the old 1.1500 line in the sand, though has inconveniently done so before this week’s main even for the US dollar – tomorrow’s Jackson Hole speech.
Safe to say that the speech will need to send some strong support the USD’s way to encourage the EURUSD bears again with a move back toward 1.1400. Otherwise, the move back higher has expanded the range toward 1.1750 if Powell’s rhetoric weakens the greenback. Elsewhere, and especially in USDJPY, support for USD upside prospects are within closer reach.
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