March 11 2017

March 11, 2017 (Commerzbank AG) – How much will the Fed tighten the reins?

The Fed is expected to hike interest rates next week – something virtually no-one envisaged at the start of the year, even though the central bank did hint in December at three moves in 2017. Since, in contrast with earlier years, the US economy seems set to proceed largely as the Fed expects this year, we expect the bank to stick to its timetable. Consequently, we envisage three rate hikes each in 2017 and 2018, somewhat more than the market is currently expecting.

Further topics:

Netherlands: no nail-biting affair for the euro

Next Wednesday, the Dutch electorate goes to the polls. Whilst the PVV of eurosceptic Geert Wilders should do better than in autumn 2012, it is unlikely to become part of the government.

Outlook for the week of 13 March to 17 March 2017

  • Economic data: The “hard” US economic data due out next week will once again probably not be able to keep pace with the recent strong rise in survey-based indicators.
  • Bond market: Despite a number of favourable trends, 10-yerar Bund yields are likely to trade fairly soft in the week ahead.
  • FX market: The FX market is in for a busy week: Besides a number of central bank decisions, the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands and the meeting of G20 finance ministers are on the agenda.
  • Equity market: Eight years ago the current DAX bull market started, and we look for continued gains into a ninth year, if not quite at the same pace as of late.
  • Commodity market: We do not expect the recent weakness of oil prices to portend a sharper decline, although we look for weakness to persist in the medium-term.


USA 

March 10, 2017 (Tempus Inc.) – This morning’s Employment Situation figures validate the labor sector’s consistent good run, but the U.S. Dollar is not reaping any benefits. Thus far, EUR, CAD, AUD, NZD, and the Nordic currencies are up against the “buck” by half a percent since the release. The data also revealed that Avg. Hourly Earnings grew at a 0.2% pace, less than the expected 0.3%, but January’s numbers were revised upward. It’s likely that market reaction thus far reflects a sentiment of certainty over a March hike, but that the indicators are not solid enough to price in three hikes for the year.

Optimism elsewhere is also pushing the greenback lower. Canadian unemployment fell to 6.6% and 15K jobs were added. It was estimated that there would actually be a contraction of about 5K jobs so this helps the “loonie” mitigate losses from oil prices sliding. The hawkish tone of the European Central Bank can also be interpreted as a sign of waning policy divergence between the two regions as the central bank prepares to get step away from intervening and using economic crisis rescue measures. BDXY, Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is down almost half a percent.

 

EUR

The Euro is at its highest level since February 16th, rising on the basis of a much better outlook from the ECB. Officially, the next nine months will have less sovereign bond purchases and ECB President Mario Draghi explained that there was reason to upgrade inflationary targets for 2017 and 2018. The risks to growth have also diminished, which has Euro bulls raving.

Although we still believe the mounting political problems in Europe will keep gains subdued, the ECB’s ability to slowly start to retreat from injecting any help into the economy of the Euro-bloc is an appreciating element for the shared currency. Any major changes to the fluctuation will not be a surprise as the EUR/USD pair has been wild since last year’s election.

GBP

Pound Sterling was under pressure until the U.S. NFPs came out, primarily losing ground on the basis of underwhelming data on their side of the Atlantic. Britain seems to be in trouble. Industrial Production contracted almost as much as expected by 0.4% last month. More worrisome, Manufacturing contracted by 0.9%, worse than the foreseen (-0.7%).

Along with trouble in both sectors, the trade deficit was higher than expected while also revised higher for January. Coming up with a Brexit deal that shall be presented once Article 50 is invoked has kept Pound on a depreciating trend, but now that fundamentals seem under threat, we believe GBP is still in search of a bottom. The “quid” is 3.9% weaker than its 2017 high reached on February 1st.