ATF Trading Room

September 9, 2016 (Tempus, Inc.) – The U.S. Dollar improved this morning countering a week of underwhelming data in the services sector and speculation increasing that the Fed would be unwilling to hike rats by the end of this year. Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren joined in the hawkish sentiment of other Fed members recently by stating this morning that “a failure to continue on the path of gradual removal of accommodation could shorten, rather than lengthen, the duration of this recovery.”

The labor market has improved to a satisfactory level after years of low interest rates and wages are steadily increasing, said the official. Chances of a hike for the September 21st meeting are up to 34.0% after being in the 22-25% range throughout the week.

Commodity markets were mostly in the red overnight, aiding the greenback recoup earlier losses against MXN, CAD, and Aussie. It is also worth noting that North Korea tested a nuclear bomb and the state-controlled media is claiming the authoritarian regime has capability to mount it on warheads. This type of global threat scenario tends to boost the USD as a safe-haven and we are witnessing that in today’s session.

EUR

The Euro is on the decline in the North American trading session following market reaction to ECB President Mario Draghi’s commentary after their monetary policy meeting. As expected, the ECB held back from expanding quantitative easing and kept its benchmark and deposit rates unchanged.

Although the shared currency initially gained to its strongest levels since the end of June, it is currently trading by over half a percent weaker. As economic growth came into question, Draghi’s statements felt pessimistic and seemed to reveal a frustration with the lack of positive impact his policies have had on anemic recovery.

Euro-zone members have seen some improvement in unemployment, especially Spain which reached its lowest level recently in over six years. However, central bank action seems to be running out of steam, with deposit rates already in the negative to incentivize banks and QE purchases at EUR80.00 billion per month. A European Union meeting next Friday in Bratislava, Slovakia hopes to revive countries’ commitment to the principles of the continental agreement, but will be the very first time since 1973 without featuring the United Kingdom.

JPY

The Yen weakened overnight following North Korea’s nuclear test and a surge in its domestic stock markets. JPY is 1.5% weaker from its weekly high reached on Tuesday. Doubts over the ability to couple monetary policy with fiscal spending is also weighing on the Yen.

The Bank of Japan will meet on September 21st and it must be noted that the currency has improved after every meeting thus far this year. Based on its account surplus and the tumultuous global economic situation, JPY has thrived as a safe-haven to gain 17.0% of value since the start of 2016.


USA 

August 26, 2016 (Tempus Inc.) – As expected, volatility jumped sharply this morning as a plethora of risk events were on today’s schedule.

The U.S. GDP data showed the economy expanded at a 1.1% rate in the second quarter, right in line with expectations. The print was a slight decline from an initial reading of 1.2%, according to the Commerce Department. Personal consumption rose 4.4%, beating expectations of a 4.2% jump but has done little to spark a dollar rally.

But the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s remark in Jackson Hole, WY gave the USD a major boost as she said that “the latest economic data strengthens the case for rate hikes”.  Her speech was titled “The Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy Toolkit.”  Traders saw this as an opportunity for the central bank head to provide guidance on the Fed’s monetary policy plan moving into the final months of the year. Odds that the Fed will raise rates this year have risen to 57% from below 50% early last week as other monetary policy officials have signaled the economy is strong enough to withstand higher borrowing costs.  However, some have warned that Yellen may just be discussing the arrows still in her quiver, and not necessarily that she has decided to use them.

EUR

The Euro fell against the U.S. dollar but remains withing recent range. The EUR/USD pair has been sluggish over the month as much of Europe is closed for the summer holiday season. Some have pointed to today’s speech by Janet Yellen as the end of the summer season and we did see volatility picking up. The European economic docket showed that consumer confidence in Germany and France registered slightly better than expected and Spanish retail sales ticked higher.

GBP

The British pound did not manage to finish off the week strong. The currency has gained against all of its 31 major peers this week and is set for its biggest weekly gain in a month versus the Euro. The sterling has benefited from a long string of strong economic data, beating expectations of a Brexit slump. Today’s data adds to the narrative. U.K. consumer confidence rose the month in more than three years this month.  The index of consumer sentiment by YouGov jumped to 109.8 from 106.6 in July, which was a three year low.  The impressive print follows strong retail sales and unemployment benefit claims last week.

However, today’s Fed Chair comments could cause more traders to start pricing in a wider monetary policy divergence between the Fed and the Bank of England, weighing on the GBP going forward.

Aug. 5, 2016 (Tempus Inc.) – After gaining yesterday on the back of the Bank of England’s decision to ramp up stimulus, the U.S. dollar ceded some of those gains overnight. Traders have been anxiously awaiting today’s release of Non-Farm payrolls, the largest risk event on this week’s docket.

The economic docket did not disappoint as the payroll report smashed expectations.  Payrolls climbed 255K in July, besting all of the forecasts collected by Bloomberg. The median estimate was for a 180K increase.  Last month’s impressive 287K reading was upwardly revised to 292K. The unemployment rate held at 4.9%.

A deeper look at the report showed promising signs for wage growth as well.  Average hourly earnings rose more than forecast (0.3% v. 0.2% expected) on a month over month basis.  The year over year increase was 2.6% in July, the same as June.

The glowing jobs report comes a week after Gross Domestic product disappointed and caused the U.S. dollar to sell-off.  Today’s print is likely to allow the greenback to claw back  those losses and cause traders to slightly increase future interest rate hike bets for early 2017.

GBP

The British pound retraced some of its steep losses from yesterday overnight, causing market participants to ponder if the GBP/USD has carved out a bottom.  The sterling is over 12.0% weaker against its American rival since the end of June, when British voters decided to leave the European Union.

The Bank of England yesterday utilized a number of monetary tools to help stimulate the economy and reduce the negative effects of the “Brexit” vote.  In all, the Bank of England added 170 billion pounds to its balance sheet, including 70 billion in new quantitative easing.  The central bank also lowered its main interest rate to an all-time low of 0.25%.
In a press release following the decision, BoE Governor Mark Carney stressed that the Bank alone could not buoy the economy.  He called for the government to increase fiscal stimulus to stave off a deep recession.

Recent economic data has backed-up the fear that the Brexit vote is starting to affect the real economy.  U.K. house prices fell 1.0% in the month of July, well below expectation of a small 0.2% drop.

AUD

The Australian dollar has gained over a half a percent against the U.S. dollar in early trading as traders being to pare back bets that the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut rates again later this year.  In its quarterly statement released today, the RBA left its growth and inflation forecasts little changed and gave little insight on future interest-rate guidance.

The RBA cut interest rates to a record low on Tuesday.  But the Australian dollar is not at a three-week high against the U.S. dollar as traders have reduced bets below 50.0% that the central bank will cut again this year.  The Aussie also found support as iron ore prices climbed.

Aug. 2, 2016 (Tempus Inc.) – The Australian dollar has rallied nearly a percent against its American rival, reversing earlier declines. The Aussie initially traded lower after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates to a record low 1.5%. The move was predicted by 20 of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The Aussie quickly turned around and is strengthening across the board, despite the dovish move by the central bank.  A number of news sources have quoted traders saying they believe the Aussie is gaining because there was lack of evidence that the RBA will ease further. However, swaps show that traders show a 50% chance that the RBA will cut rates again in November, suggesting that today’s move may be temporary.

USD

The U.S. Dollar continues to lose ground against the majority of its counterparts, a move that was exacerbated by disappointing growth data released Friday.  Indeed, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a gauge of the greenback against 10 peers, is lower for the fifth time in six days.

This morning’s economic docket is unlikely to change the dollar’s fortune.  Consumer purchases climbed a bit more than anticipated in June.  The 0.4% advance in spending followed a similar gain the month prior, according to the Commerce Department.  Economists had projected a 0.3% gain.  Personal income rose less than projected, counteracting the gains in spending.  Incomes rose 0.2%, failing to meet expectations of a 0.3% rise.

The greenback has had a muted reaction to the data. The biggest risk event for the week is Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls print. Expectations are for 180K jobs created in July, down from an impressive 287K in June.

JPY

The safe-haven Japanese yen pushed towards a three-week high against the U.S. dollar after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced an underwhelming fiscal stimulus package. The Japanese Nikkei is 1.5% lower at the time of writing, boosting demand for safe-haven assets. Japan’s government announced 4.6 trillion yen (45 billion USD) in extra spending for the current fiscal year in an attempt to boost the economy. However, the amount pales in comparison to the 28 trillion yen stimulus package Abe referred to in a speech last week.

The yen gained last week as well after the Bank of Japan enlarged a program of buying exchange-traded funds, while keeping its negative interest rate unchanged.

July 27, 2016 (Tempus Inc.) – The Fed revealed their monetary policy decision today at no surprise to the markets, as the central bank took on a “wait and see” approach, saying that future rate hikes will be dependent on further improvements in U.S. economic data. Unlike previous meetings, there was no press conference after the announcement. In fact, Chairwoman Janet Yellen will not speak to the public until August 26 during a conference for the Kansas City Fed in Jackson Hole, WY.

The USD weakened as a result of the Fed’s decision. It’s likely the Fed will remain cautious of taking any action, despite of better than expected job creation and other recent positive data. Durable Goods were released earlier with worse contraction than expected in June and revised deeper into negative territory for the month of May. The actual (-4.0%) number is twice as bad as the estimated (-1.4%), signaling continued decrease in long-term expenditures. Stock indexes across the globe welcomed the news climbing by an average of 1.5% in Europe and Asian sessions.

GBP

The Pound remains volatile to post-referendum data and uncertainty over Brexit negotiations, but its decline slowed down after GDP numbers revealed better-than-expected growth. The second quarter of 2016 saw the U.K. economy grow by 0.6% over the forecast 0.5%.

Fortunately, the U.K. economy has grown for three consecutive years, but Sterling is not on the rise because economists credit the resiliency to Britain being part of the European Union. Subsequently, analysts feel this 3-year run may come to an end as recessionary pressure is building up with already disappointing consumer as well as business confidence after the seismic vote.

JPY

The drama in Japan before the Bank of Japan decision goes on as initial details on a fiscal spending are finally in place. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that JPY 28.0 trillion were in the works for stimulating the export-driven economy. The plan to help and be aggressive like the BOJ comes at a good time when the Yen is hurting companies dependent on competitive prices for their exports.

JPY recuperated a bit from losing as much as 1.5% of its value overnight. Traders are increasing bets that the BOJ will indeed feel comfortable expanding its sovereign bond buying program on Friday. The reversal we’ve predicted for USD/JPY may be brewing.

 

 

 

July 20, 2016 (Tempus Inc.) – The U.S. Dollar gained overnight, primarily against commodity-based currencies as global markets take a backseat in anticipation of the European central Bank’s decision tomorrow. The risk event will start making its impact tomorrow at 7:45AM EST. Equity markets stayed relatively quiet, but European shares had a slight uptick as many investors feel easing measures will stay in place in the long-term and additional aid may be on the way very soon. Unlike the Fed, the European Central Bank’s actions are not easily predictable, but we believe along with most economic analysts out there that the tone will be quite dovish.

There is no major data today, but keep in mind that domestic figures have impressed lately. Although the current global economic situation begs for close monitoring, intervention, fiscal spending, and monetary accommodation, there is optimism that in the next six months enough momentum can be achieved to put focus back on tightening. Odds of a Fed hike now stand at over 45.0% by end of the year. USD is at its strongest level in one month, per the BBDXY.

GBP

Although the Pound declined by as much as 1.7% since Monday because of downgrade outlooks on the U.K. economy post-Brexit, there were good unemployment news pulling the currency back up. British unemployment registered at 4.9% according to Q2 numbers, the lowest jobless rate since 2005. Indeed, the figure comes from pre-Brexit analysis, however, the Bank of England’s Agents’ Summary of Business Conditions showed no evidence to conclude any significant slowdown economically yet. This survey is the equivalent to the Fed’s Beige Book, which noted confidence is certainly down, but businesses still expect some gradual growth.

EUR

The Euro is trading around its weakest levels in three weeks ahead of the ECB decision announcement slated for tomorrow. A report revealed that the Euro-zone’s current account surplus shrank in May. Most economists feel that the ECB and BOE will take similar paths as they prepare their forecasts and wait to add further stimulus. The wait-and-see approach is likely not going to be long-term.

We believe they will not make any moves tomorrow, but certainly feel strong about President Mario Draghi indicating that further action must be taken within the next quarter and before we get close to the end of the year. The fallout is not entirely clear in the horizon, but Brexit effects will need to be countered before potential tensions negatively affect growth. A recession is not guaranteed, but remains likely with 0.5% of Euro-region growth already compromised, per ECB commentary.

July 14, 2016 (Tempus Inc.) – The U.S. Dollar lost ground overnight as stock indexes and commodities continued their strong resurgence, which has erased most of the losses experienced in the post-Brexit world after the initial negative reaction.

Theresa May wasted no time in putting together a cabinet after taking over the Prime Minister role, Japan is listening to economic advice to turn things around, and America’s indicators are better than expected. The mighty “buck” is no longer appreciating on the basis of market fear as a safe-haven, nevertheless, volatility remains high and risk-aversion has not completely faded.

Jobless Claims were expected to be higher than last week, but the figure was the exact same as the prior reading. Economist forecast 265K additional claims, but the reading was at 254K. Producer Price Index also beat lower expectations increasing in June by 0.4% over the predicted 0.1% rate of growth. Accommodative policies around the globe are likely to remain in order to see the ongoing improvement.

GBP

The Bank of England decided to maintain its current interest rate at the record-low 0.5% pushing the Pound upward as it strengthened by over 1.5%. The current level is more 1986 than 1985. The uptick was no surprise as a result, but the BOE’s Monetary Policy Committee is expecting looser policy in the month of August.

Central bank officials are still working on updating their forecasts and regardless of the positive move for Sterling, members agree on a downgraded outlook for economic growth. Uncertainty still has a hold of the economic future and many easing options were discussed at the table.

PM Theresa May appointed a new Chancellor of the Exchequer immediately after taking over Westminster Palace. Welcome Philip “Box Office Phil” Hammond, a man described as “not particularly inspiring, but a safe choice.” The man with the best financial title in the world recognized that markets were rattled after the referendum and he would do “whatever measures” to rebuild confidence in the U.K.

EUR

The Euro strengthened overnight and is now 1.5% better since originally falling after the June 23rd vote. The spike is counter intuitive to the Euro-zone’s general weakness as an economy. Economic data is not stellar, in fact, it’s worsening.

Industrial production in the euro-area fell by 1.2% in May, completely eradicating the 1.2% rise seen in April. Also, French Consumer Price Index increased by less than expected, signaling that inflationary growth is still muted.

However, Unemployment figures have improved, European stocks are on a winning streak, and the Euro does not drop despite ECB desires to do so. We believe there will be a reversal as we get to the second half of 2016 because it’s clear the recovery is slow and the Italian banking crisis will not bode well for the shared currency.

July 1, 2016 (Tempus Inc.) – The U.S. Dollar is trading slightly weaker against its major peers while also losing ground to commodity-based currencies as global stock indexes flourished overnight. The good news for the equity markets came in the form of negative remarks from both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, which are determined to exercise loose monetary policies in the wake of the “Brexit” aftermath. The prompt response from the European financial authorities is a result of the devastating loss of $3.0 trillion to the global economy in the two days following the shocking “Leave” result. It is clear that monetary easing is here for the long-term and investors are happy with the intervention.

After the “Brexit”, many currencies are now on recovery mode against the U.S. dollar following a tough week for the price of raw materials and other resources. WTI Crude oil fell by about 3.0% this week and metals also declined. However, accommodative policies are helping in fading some fear and currencies such as Aussie have jumped by 2.0% in the past few days. The Yen remains a safe-haven and a gainer throughout this whole mess despite deflationary pressures and concerns from finance ministers.

GBP

The bleeding for the Pound came to a halt this morning after weakening by 1.5% yesterday afternoon once BoE Governor Mark Carney stated his plan to use monetary easing this summer. More importantly, the United Kingdom is sounding more divided that ever with political instability affecting England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson, the Trump-like figure who headed the Conservative movement that campaigned for “Brexit” was basically ousted by his own Tory Party in a secret betrayal that seems out of a political thriller. In a matter of hours before he was expected to propel his candidacy for Prime Minister, he was underhandedly betrayed by the guy originally running his campaign, Justice Secretary Michael Gove. As one parliament member described it best, “some members believe that ‘House of Cards’ is a training manual.”

EUR

The Euro continues its stubborn run, staying in familiar ranges despite the chaos surrounding the Euro-zone. EU member countries are facing internal political debate about their chances to follow the U.K.’s suit and cut ties with Brussels. The saving grace for the 19-nation bloc is that unemployment is dropping, registering at 10.1%; best reading in about five years. Spain, one of the problematic PIGS, saw its jobless rate fall below 20.0%, a six-year low. Manufacturing also improved with a better-than-expected expansion, but the survey response is from days prior to the “Brexit” referendum.

The ECB announced that it will expand its bond purchases and eliminate restrictions in order to buy more securities. There are currently more negative-yield bonds out there than positive ones and the central bank wants to not only facilitate liquidity, but increase faith in the markets as well.

 

June 18, 2016 (Tempus Inc.) – Currency markets were volatile yesterday causing some traders whiplash. The greenback initially rallied after the consumer price index showed inflation pressures are building in the U.S.  However, the U.S. dollar experienced a violent sell-off midday on apparent technical trading.  The U.S. dollar has mostly ceded more ground overnight against its European counterparts.  Commodity-backed currencies are rather flat even as the price of oil has rebounded 2.0%.

This morning’s docket is unlikely to help the greenback recover overnight losses.  New home construction in the U.S. was unchanged in May.  Housing starts in May fell 0.3%, beating dour expectations of a 1.9% contraction.  Permits, a proxy for future construction, were also little changed from April.  There is no further data releases scheduled for today.

JPY

The Japanese yen also see-sawed overnight, but ultimately opened today’s trading session unchanged from yesterday’s close.  The yen is currently at a 22-month high against the U.S. dollar, causing concern for Japanese policy makers.  The yen fell over half a percent after Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso called for a coordination from the G7 and G20  to address what he described as “disorderly” moves in foreign exchange markets.  Aso said he wants to take “firm action”, but there is no indication from the G-7 that they are open to intervention.
The yen quickly recovered those losses, likely escalating frustrations from policy makers.  The last time Japan to sold yen to cause currency weakness was 2011.

GBP

British pound volatility remains near its highest ever.  GBP/USD has traded in a wide 2.0% range over the past 24 hours as traders attempt to position themselves before next Thursday’s referendum.

The United Kingdom was rocked by the attack and then death of Parliament member Jo Cox yesterday.  Cox was stabbed and shot while meeting with her constituents.  Cox has been a part of the “Remain” camp, lobbying for the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union.  Per a witness, the assailant repeatedly shouted “put Britain first.”    She is the first British lawmaker to have been killed in office since the IRA assassinated Conservative MP Ian Gow in 1990.

In the aftermath, political campaigning has been suspended.  Despite the condolences from both sides, the Brexit vote still threatens the U.K. economy and the British pound.  Expect volatility to rise even more in the coming days.

 

 

May 20, 2016 (Tempus, Inc.) – The U.S. Dollar sustained most of its gains after an eventful week in which the chances of a Fed hike have significantly increased. The FOMC minutes revealed an unexpectedly hawkish Fed willing to tighten monetary policy if the economic situation stays on the current path. Consumption and global performance will be closely monitored, but traders are more confident about the probability of Fed action moving forward.

As a result, the mighty “buck” is on a positive trend. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is up 1.0% already this week. The dollar’s appreciation is also due to a major contrast in the economic realities of the anemic European recovery and the slowdown in Asia, primarily in China.
Global equity indexes rallied overnight with mining companies improving the most. What goes down eventually goes up as is the case with metals such as copper, nickel, and aluminum. The recovery in the price of natural resources and other commodities, like oil, stopped the bleeding in emerging-market currencies. For example, NZD has lost 3.6% of its value since the start of May and CAD is 4.6% weaker as well.
Existing Home sales will be the only major piece of data out at 10AM today. A slew of data is expected for next week, including the much-anticipated Gross Domestic Product.
EUR
The Euro lost over 1.0% of its value this week and is trading around levels last seen at the start of April. German Producer Price Index only increased by 0.1% since last month, but the figure is negative year-over-year at (-3.1%), casting doubt on the Euro-zone’s ability to overcome deflationary pressures.
We expect the Euro to continue facing downward pressure as major economies within the union deal with uncertainty. Along with political turmoil, the Euro-zone is facing scrutiny over its handling of debt resolution and the lack of fiscal consensus within its more troubled members.
GBP

The Pound weakened for the first time this week following statements from Bank of England officials in regards to the underperformance of the U.K. economy. Although “Brexit” fears are starting to fade, the BOE officials credited the poor economic situation to other risks beyond the possibility of the U.K. leaving the EU.

Policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe explained that the current slump is creating a need for stimulus down the line, countering the argument that the BOE is the only major central bank other than the Fed that could hike interest rates.

The Pound fell to a seven-year low back on February 26th when the referendum was announced, but managed to recover 5.0% of its value since then and is no longer the worst-performing major currency in 2016.