FX Update: GBP in danger as rate spike fails to support. USD dominating.
Head of FX Strategy
Summary: The stronger US dollar is beginning to dominate across FX, and we haven’t even seen risk sentiment roll over badly yet, although this time it could be the US dollar itself that defines and drives financial conditions across markets. Elsewhere, we have seen an interesting fundamental test of sterling over the last couple of sessions, as sterling has begun rolling over today, even as a ripping increase in rate tightening bets in the wake of another hot CPI print out of the UK this morning.
FX Trading focus: USD dominating again, GBP rate spike impact fading fast and indicating danger ahead for sterling. RBNZ hawkishness fails to impress the kiwi.
The US dollar rally is broadening and intensifying, and US long yields are threatening back higher, which is finally pushing back against the recent melt-up in financial conditions/risk sentiment. The US July Retail Sales report looks solid, given the +0.7% advance in “ex Autos and Gas” sales after the June spike in average nationwide gasoline price to the unprecedented 5 dollar/gallon level. Yes, July gasoline prices were lower than June’s, but there wasn’t a huge delta on the average price for the month, and the impact of lower gas prices will likely be more in the August full month of vastly lower prices – presumably averaging closer to 4/gallon, together with the psychological relief that the spike seems in the rear view mirror, even if we can’t know whether a fresh spike awaits in the fall, after the draw on strategic reserves is halted.
A strong US dollar, higher US yields and a fresh unease in risk sentiment are a potential triple whammy in which the US dollar itself is the lead character, as USDJPY has reversed back above 135.00 even before the US data, suggesting a threat back toward the cycle highs. AUDUSD has entirely reversed its upside sprint above 0.7000, refreshing its bearish trend after a squeeze nearly to the 200-day moving average there. Elsewhere, EURUSD and GBPUSD are a bit stuck in the mud, watching 1.0100 and 1.2000 respectively. The most important additional aggravator of this USD volatility in coming sessions would be a significant break higher in USDCNH if China decides it is tiring again of allowing the CNH to track USD direction at these levels. The pressure has to be building there after the PBOC’s rate cut at the start of the week.
The UK July CPI release this morning raised eyebrows with another beat of expectations across the board, the day after strong earnings data. The 10.1% headline figure represents a new cycle and the month-on-month figure failed to moderate much, showing +0.6% vs. +0.4% expected. Core inflation also rose more than expected, posting a gain of 6.2% YoY and thus matching the cycle high from April. The Retail Price Index rose 12.3% vs. 12.1% expected. The market reaction was easily the most interesting, as we have seek UK yields flying higher but failing to impress sterling much after a bit of a surge yesterday and into this morning. Now, sterling is rolling over despite a 40 basis point advance(!) in the 2-year swap rate from yesterday’ open, much of that unfolding in the wake of the CPI release today.
Not that much drama at the moment in the GBPUSD chart, but that is remarkable in and of itself, as the soaring UK yields of yesterday and particularly today in the wake of a higher than expected CPI release are not doing much to support sterling. When rate moves don’t support a currency, it is starting to behave somewhat like an emerging market currency, a dangerous signal for the sterling, where we watch for a break of 1.2000 to usher in a test of the cycle lows below 1.1800, but possibly even the pandemic panic lows closer to 1.1500. The Bank of England hikes will only a accelerate the erosion of demand and slowdown in the UK economy that will lead to a harsh recession that the Bank of England itself knows is coming, but may have to prove slow to react to due to still elevated inflation levels, in part on a weak currency.
The RBNZ hiked fifty basis points as expected overnight and raised forward guidance for the Official Cash Rate path to indicate the expectation that the OCR will peak near 4%, a raising and bringing forward of the expected rate peak for the cycle. In the press conference, RBNZ Governor Orr spelled out the specific guidance that he would like to get the rate to 4% and take a significant pause to see if that is enough. “Our view is that sitting around that 4% official cash rate level buys the monetary policy committee right now significant comfort that we would have done enough to see inflation back to our remit.” NZ short rates were volatile, but hardly changed by the end of the day, meaning that NZD direction defaulted to risk sentiment, with a fresh dip in AUDNZD erased despite a weak AUD, and NZDUSD confirming a bearish reversal.
Table: FX Board of G10 and CNH trend evolution and strength.
Note the big shift in USD momentum, the most notable on the chart, although the absolute value of the SEK negative shift has been even larger over the last few days as EU woes and the growth outlook weigh even more heavily on SEK, which is often leveraged to the EU outlook, also as EURSEK has now failed to progress lower after a notable break below the 200-day moving average. Note the AUD negative shift as well, with sluggish wage growth data overnight for Q2 offering no helping hand.
Table: FX Board Trend Scoreboard for individual pairs.
USDJPY looks to flip back to a positive trend on a higher close today or tomorrow, the recent flip negative in GBPUSD looks confirmed on a hold below 1.2000, and AUDUSD looks a matter of time before flipping negative as well, while USDCAD has beaten it to the punch – although a more forceful upside trend signal there would be a close above 1.3000 again.
Upcoming Economic Calendar Highlights (all times GMT)
- 1800 – US FOMC Minutes
- 1820 – US Fed’s Bowman (Voter) to speak
- 2110 – New Zealand RBNZ Governor Orr before parliamentary committee
- 0130 – Australia Jul. Employment Change (Unemployment Rate)
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