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.