The recent USD rally is no more as the greenback never managed to put anything together after the one-off boost around last week’s European Central Bank meeting. But the reversal of that rally hasn’t fired the outlook for USD bears just yet, judging from the ongoing collapse in implied options volatility. The Federal Open market Committee meeting next week is the next obvious event risk; we’ll preview that more thoroughly next week. For now, our chief question is whether the market has overreached in pricing in Fed accommodation.
The latest delay to the US-China trade deal outcome failed to do much to dent risk sentiment, at least as judged by the major US equity indices, but the action there may be more about buyback blackout periods to come and last-minute flows around the expiry of the options and futures today.
This week’s Brexit votes have only managed to churn sterling pairs viciously in a range as we still await any sense of clarity, with only the cliff-edge no-deal scenario seemingly avoided for now. Prime Minister May’s last-last ditch gambit is mobilising her version of Project Fear on Tory Eurosceptics: if they don’t sign her deal, she waves the risk that the UK will have to participate in the EU parliamentary elections and will eventually have to agree to a very long delay that would likely include UK elections and maybe even a second referendum.
Surely her days are numbered as PM already, but they will be especially endangered if next week’s vote fails, as I suspect it will. Sterling is still relatively bid, but would a very long delay do sterling any favours in the end? Not so sure – May’s deal passing seems the most direct route to a stronger sterling, but can it pass? The Tory Eurosceptic Jacob Rees Mogg has raised the idea that the UK could exit the deal anyway under obscure precedents from the past. If this is enough cover, perhaps enough Tories could hold their nose and vote in favour after all – but odds look slim.
Our half EURJPY short reached its stop-out level after proving unable to take all of the equity upside this week into triple witching. We haven’t given up on the idea, but this was clearly bad timing and we’ll see how next week develops.
On EURNOK shorts, it's tempting to lighten up ahead of our nominal 9.65 targets here ahead of the weekend and try to hold on to a half position over the Norges Bank meeting next Thursday (or a full position if the pair backs up higher early next week. Norges Bank is widely expected to hike. Stops pulled down well below 9.80 now on any remaining shorts.
We’ll consider early next week whether and how to position for FOMC meeting outcomes.
Chart: USDNOK weekly
NOK strength has been one of the few pronounced directional moves this week and it's looking particularly interesting in USDNOK terms on a weak weekly close today as EURNOK corrects lower as well ahead of next Thursday’s Norges Bank meeting, where a 25- basis point hike is expected. As Norges Bank expectations have moved in the opposite direction of Fed expectations, downside pressure could continue, though a less dovish message thank expected from the Fed next week could provide a tactical squeeze. In the longer term perspective, this chart looks toppish. A decent USD sell-off and firm NOK could see the pair toward at least 8.25 over the next few weeks.