Fed Appears Hawkish; SNB, BoE, and ECB Take the Torch
The US dollar traded lower yesterday, while equities rebounded, despite the hawkish outcome of the Fed’s decision yesterday. As for today, the central bank torch will be passed to the SNB, the BoE and the ECB, and although none of those Banks is expected to touch interest rates, it would be interesting to hear what they have to say for their future course of action. Tonight, during the Asian session Friday, we have another major central bank deciding on monetary policy and this is the BoJ.
MARKET SENTIMENT IMPROVES EVEN AFTER A HAWKISH FED
The USD dollar traded mixed against the other major currencies on Wednesday and during the Asian session Thursday. It gained versus JPY and CHF, while it underperformed against AUD, NZD, and EUR in that order. The greenback was found virtually unchanged against GBP and CAD.
The strengthening of the risk-linked Aussie and Kiwi, combined with the weakening of the safe-havens yen and franc, suggests that markets traded in a risk-on fashion yesterday and today in Asia. Turning our gaze to the equity world, we see that European indices traded mixed, but Wall Street rallied with all three of its main indices gaining more than 1.0%. Nasdaq even gained 2.15%. The optimism, albeit somewhat softer, rolled over into the Asian session today as well.
Yesterday, the main event on the financial agenda was the FOMC decision. As was expected, the Fed dropped the “transitory” wording with regards to inflation from its statement, and doubled the pace of its QE process, which means that, conditional upon maintaining that pace for the months to come, the process will end in March. Most importantly though, the new “dot plot” pointed to three quarter-point rate increases in 2022, and three more for 2023, at a time when the financial community was fully pricing in only two lift-offs for next year.
In our view, the Fed was overly hawkish, even more than many market participants have been anticipating, at least according to the pricing of the Fed Funds futures. After all, that’s why the initial reaction at the time of the release was a stronger dollar and a small pullback in equities. That said, everything turned around very quickly, with the dollar coming under selling interest, and stock indices rebounding strongly. With no clear evidence as to why this happened, we can only assume that it may have been a position-covering move as the market as a whole was long dollars and short equities heading into the decision. Perhaps some participants may have been expecting to lock profits after a potentially more hawkish Fed.
AUD/USD — TECHNICAL OUTLOOK
AUD/USD traded higher yesterday, after hitting support at 0.7094, near the upside support line drawn from the low of December 3rd. That said, the recovery was paused near the key resistance of 0.7182, which has been acting as a ceiling since the beginning of the month. Thus, we would like to see a clear break above that barrier before we get confident on more advances.
Such a break would confirm a forthcoming higher high and carry extensions towards the high of November 23rd, at 0.7230. Slightly higher lies another key resistance zone, between 0.7275 and 0.7293, marked by the highs of November 22nd and 19th respectively, the break of which could carry larger bullish implications, perhaps paving the way towards the peak of November 15th, at 0.7370.
On the downside, we would like to see a clear dip below 0.7062 before we start examining whether the bears have gained full control. Such a dip could confirm the break below the upside support line drawn from the low of December 3rd, and may trigger declines towards that low, at around 0.6990. Another break, below 0.6990, could confirm a forthcoming lower low and may extend the fall towards the 0.6925 zone, which acted as a temporary floor back in July 2020.
SNB, BOE, AND ECB TAKE THEIR TURN IN DECIDING ON MONETARY POLICY
As for today, the central bank torch will be passed to the SNB, the BoE and the ECB.
The chorus starts with the SNB, the meetings of which have been passing unnoticed for several months now. However, things may be different this time around, as concerns how the new covid-related restrictions can affect European growth have pushed EUR/CHF lower, near the 1.0400 zone. With SNB officials maintaining the view that the franc remains highly valued, even when EUR/CHF was at higher levels, we see decent chances for them to strengthen their wording about intervening in the FX market to prevent the pair for moving lower.
Now, passing the ball to the BoE, we believe that all the attention will fall on interest rates. Following the outbreak of a new COVID variant, and the new restrictions in the UK, market participants have pushed drastically back their expectations with regards to a rate hike at this gathering. The latest available data of the UK OIS (Overnight Index Swaps) suggest that a hike to 0.25% is more than fully priced in for March 2022. We don’t believe that policymakers will surprise the financial community by hiking today, and therefore, it will be interesting to see what they have to say for their future course of action. Hints that they could lift rates sooner than when the market pricing suggests could result in a rebound in the British pound. The opposite could be true in case they sound more hesitant.
A few minutes after the BoE, we have the ECB. No monetary policy action is expected by this Bank, but it would be interesting to see what they are planning to do moving forward in the midst of fresh lockdowns, but also accelerating inflation in the Euro area. Officials could announce that PEPP (Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program) may be extended for a while more, but even if they signal that it will still end in March, we believe that they will be willing to compensate through other schemes, like the APP (Asset Purchase Program). Something like that, combined with more warnings that interest rates are unlikely to start rising anytime soon, could result in another round of selling in the euro.
EUR/GBP — TECHNICAL OUTLOOK
EUR/GBP rebounded decently yesterday, after it hit support at 0.8485. However, the rebound remained short-lived near the 0.8528 zone, still below the downside resistance line taken from the high of December 8th. Thus, with that in mind, we would expect the bears to recharge again at some point soon, and push the rate lower.
The bears may decide to recharge from near the crossroads of the 0.8528 zone and the aforementioned downside line, and perhaps aim for another test near the 0.8485 area. A break lower would confirm a forthcoming lower low and may see scope for larger declines, perhaps towards the low of November 29th, at 0.8445.
In order to abandon the bearish case, we would like to see a strong rebound back above the 0.8553 barrier, which is the high of December 14th. The rate will already be well above the downside line taken form the high of December 8th, and may initially target the 0.8572 zone, the break of which could carry extensions towards the peak of December 8th, at 0.8600.
AS FOR THE REST OF TODAY’S EVENTS
Besides those three decisions, we also get the preliminary manufacturing and services PMIs from the Eurozone, the UK and the US, as well as the US industrial production for November.
As for tonight, during the Asian session Friday, we have another central bank deciding on interest rates and this is the BoJ. With Japanese inflation near zero, well below the Bank’s target of 2%, we don’t expect any material changes, neither to the actual policy measures nor to the language in the accompanying statement. Once again, the yen may not react to the outcome and stay driven by developments surrounding the broader market sentiment.
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