Euro surged broadly last week and led European majors higher on expectation that pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron will have an easy win in French presidential election this Sunday. Traders seemed to have ignored the news about hacking attack on Macron's campaign. With 20 pt lead over EU-sceptic far-right Marine Le Pen, there should be enough safety margin for Macron. The focus is now on the reactions in that markets on the results during the initial part of next week. As Macron's win should be well priced into the markets, there is prospect of a setback in Euro after the facts. However, judging from the strength in European indices, it's believed that there is solid underlying optimism in the European economy. And, strategy could indeed be "buy-pull-back" rather that "sell-on-news".
Dollar stays weak against Euro and Sterling in early US session as non-farm payroll risk is cleared. NFP showed 211k growth in the US job market in April, above expectation of 180k. However, prior month's weak figure was revised further down to 79k from 98k. Unemployment rate, however, dropped to 4.4%, down from 4.5% and below expectation of 4.6%. That's the lowest figure in nearly a decade since May 2007. Average hourly earnings showed 0.3% mom growth, in line with consensus. But prior month's wage growth was revised down to 0.1% mom.
Dollar is trading mixed as markets are turning their focus to employment data from US today. Non-farm payroll is expected to show 180k growth in April. Unemployment rate is expected to climb back to 4.6%. Average hourly earnings are expected to rise 0.3% mom. Looking at other employment related data, ADP private payroll growth slowed to 177k in April, down from 255k. Employment component of ISM manufacturing dropped sharply from 58.9 to 52.0, hitting the lowest level this year. Employment component of ISM services was nearly unchanged but stayed low at 51.4. Conference Board consumer confidence dropped to 120.3, down from 124.9, but was solid. Overall, other employment data argue that we won't have much chance of an upside surprise in today's NFP. Nonetheless, some attention would be on revision to March's poor number of 98k. Also, expectations is high on the 0.3% wage growth which leaves room for disappointment.
Dollar trades softer against European majors as the brief lift from FOMC statement fades. Economic data from US are solid but provide little support to the greenback. Initial jobless claims dropped -19k to 238k in the week ended April 29, below expectation of 246k. Continuing claims dropped 23k ti 1.96m, lowest in 17 year. Challenger report showed -42.9% yoy fall in planned layoff in April. Trade deficit narrowed slightly to USD -43.7b in March. Non-farm productivity dropped -0.6% in Q1 while unit labor costs rose 3.0%.
We view the recent decline in Australian dollar as a catch-up of the selloff of the iron ore price from its February peak. Spot price for 62% benchmark iron ore slumped more than 30% in 2 months after reading a peak of US$90/tones on February 21. During the period, AUDUSD had been trading within a broad range and dropped around -2%. The relatively resilience in Aussie was likely driven by the broad-based weakness in the greenback as soft dataflow had diminished expectations of a rate June rate hike. Recall the selloff of iron ore prices accelerated in March, after China's pledge reduce steel capacity. The tighter liquidity conditions in China's money markets have reinforced concerns over the government's efforts to crack down the steel industry.
Dollar edged up mildly after a rather uneventful FOMC rate decision. The lift on the greenback was from the fact that Fed tried to talk down Q1's weakness. And there is no change in the expected rate path for Fed as markets are pricing in over 70% chance of a hike in June. But there was nothing for Dollar bulls to cheer neither. Traders will look into non-farm payroll report from US to be released tomorrow. For the moment, focuses remain on the weakness in Japanese Yen and Australian Dollar. In particular, the latter was dragged down to the lowest level since January by the slump in iron ore prices. Iron ore price started tumbling after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang indicated the plan to cut steel capacity. And based on that, Australia's export values would probably continue to fall further ahead and there is more downside potential in the Aussie.
As widely anticipated, the FOMC left the target range for the Fed funds rate unchanged at between 0.75- 1%. Although the accompanying statement was largely unchanged from the previous month, the implications were important in light of the slowdown in the first quarter. While acknowledging the recent weakness in growth and inflation, policymakers attributed it to 'transitory effects'. The downplaying of 1Q17's disappointments underpinned the Fed's determination to carry on its normalization plan. The FOMC maintained its economic outlook and the gradual rate-hike approach. We continue to expect two more rate hikes this year with one coming in June.
Dollar strengthens against most major currencies after FOMC left interest rate unchanged at 0.75-1.00% as widely expected. Most importantly, Fed dismissed the weakness in Q1 and noted in the accompanying statement that "slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory". Fed maintained that "with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace". Meanwhile Fed also noted that " labor market has continued to strengthen even as growth in economic activity slowed". And, "job gains were solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate declined." "Labor market conditions will strengthen somewhat further, and inflation will stabilize around 2 percent over the medium term." And, risks are "roughly balanced". While there is no hint about the timing of the next hike, the statement does nothing to change the expectation of a hike in June.
Dollar is steady against European majors as FOMC rate decision looms. Job data from US is basically in line with expectation and triggers little reactions. Instead, news regarding ultra-long bonds sends the Japanese Yen lower again. Released from US, ADP report showed 177k growth in private sector jobs in April, comparing to expectation of 178k. The US Treasury Department said today that it's conducting an "internal review" regarding ultra-long bonds. The department was meeting with "a broad variety of market participants" regarding the pros and cons of 50-year and 100-year securities. Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that ultra-long bonds absolutely makes sense to the Treasury. 30 year yield jumped on Monday after Mnuchin's comments.
Dollar strengthens mildly as markets await FOMC rate decision but momentum is limited against European majors. Notable moves are seen in Canadian dollar which is weighed down by oil prices. Meanwhile, Australian Dollar follows stocks lower but is holding above near term support at 0.7439 against Dollar. The Aussie is possibly weighed down by selling against New Zealand Dollar too after impressive job data of the latter. Sterling is also generally weaker today on news that EU is raising the amount of the Brexit deal for UK to EUR 100b. Meanwhile, Euro is also a touch softer ahead of French election TV debate.
Yen weakens broadly as concerns over North Korea tensions continue. Japan Finance Minister spoke in a conference in California, US, yesterday. He warned that while yen is always "said to be a safe-haven currency", the situation in North Korea made it "extremely unstable". And he emphasized that "we should always think about what the yen would be like if something happens in North Korea." Regarding trade relationship, Aso said Japan and 10 other countries should push ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the involvement of the US. But he is optimistic that US will eventually find it better to rejoin. He said that "it's not a fact that the U.S. will be able to gain more from bilateral framework than TPP." The Japanese currency is also weighed down by renewed strength in US treasury yields. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that ultra-long bonds are "something that could absolutely make sense for us at Treasury."
China's latest set of PMI data indicated slowdown in the country's activity growth. The official manufacturing index was reported to have dropped -0.6 point to 51.2 in April, whist the non-manufacturing PMI declined -1.1 points to 54 for the month. The slowdown was broadly based: the 'output' index slipped -0.4 point to 53.8 and the 'new orders' index dropped -1point to 52.3. The 'new export orders' index fell for the first time in 4 months, losing -0.3 point to 50.5, although the three-month moving average remained up. The 'input price' index sank -7.5 points to 51.8. The trend indicates that PPI inflation should have slowed more sharply in April. Recall that the March reading was +7.6% and the February reading was a record higher of +7.8%. The only sub-index that has shown improvement was the 'stock of finished goods' index, which gained +0.9 point to 48.2.
As widely anticipated, RBA left its cash rate, for an 8th meeting, at 1.5% in April. While headline CPI has more or less reached the central bank's target level, the core reading has remained subdued. Policymakers have decided to take more time to gauge the inflation outlook before action. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has remained elevated while excess capacity in the job market has rendered wage growth weak. The RBA reiterated its rhetoric on the housing market, suggesting conditions 'continue to vary considerably around the country'. Policymakers would be cautious over adopting another rate cut as previous reductions have caused a surge in housing produces and rebound in investment related credit growth. A rate hike is equally unlikely as Australian dollar has remained at historically high levels.
In US, long term treasury yields jumped after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that ultra-long bonds are "something that could absolutely make sense for us at Treasury." 30 year yield rose 0.059 to close at 3.011, back above 3.000 handle and took out 55 day EMA. 10 year yield also rose 0.043 to close at 2.325, but was limited below last week's high and 55 day EMA. Mnuchin also said that it will probably take two years to hit 3% growth, with the help of tax and regulatory reforms, as well as better international trade agreements. He emphasized that USD 2% in revenue can be generally over 10 years if growth is boosted from 2% to 3%. Dollar is trading mixed after weaker than expected ISM manufacturing released overnight. NASDAQ extended the record run and rose 0.73% to close at 6091.6. S&P 500 also rose 0.17% but was limited below 2400 handle. DJIA lost -0.13%.
Dollar turns mixed in early US session after weaker than expected economic data. Personal income rose 0.2% in March versus consensus of 0.3%. Personal spending rose 0.0% versus consensus of 0.2%. Headline CPI slowed to 1.8% yoy, down from 2.1% yoy. Core PCE slowed to 1.6% yoy down from 1.8% yoy. Dollar traders will look into the string of key events this week for guidance. Fed is widely expected to keep policies unchanged on Wednesday. But at this point, Fed fund futures are pricing in over 60% of a June hike. Markets would be eager to get some hints for that in this week's FOMC statement. Meanwhile, ISM indices and non-farm payroll would shed some lights on how the US economy would rebound after a weak Q1.
Dollar trades mildly higher in Asian session today. Trading is subdued with China, Swiss, France, Germany, Italy and UK on holiday. The greenback is lifted mildly by news that the US Congress has reached a tentative agreement on a USD 1T bill to keep the government running through the end of September. A vote could be held as early as Tuesday to confirm. And this would prevent a government shut down. But the real tests for the greenback would be from economic data and FOMC meeting. Fed is widely expected to keep policies unchanged this week. But at this point, Fed fund futures are pricing in over 60% of a June hike. Markets would be eager to get some hints for that in this week's FOMC statement. Meanwhile, ISM indices and non-farm payroll would shed some lights on how the US economy would rebound after a weak Q1..
Euro surged sharply for the initial part of last week as boosted by the result of French president election. The common currency ended the week as the strongest major currency. But it has clearly lost some momentum after a balanced ECB press conference. On the other hand, Sterling continued to defy gravity and picked up momentum again towards the end of the week. The British Pound has indeed ended April as the strongest major currency for the month. The weakness in the Japanese Yen might take some attention. But it was the selloff in commodity currencies, in a risk-seeking environment, that is worth the watch. Meanwhile, Dollar found no support from US President Donald Trump's tax plan, but it didn't react negatively to Q1 GDP miss neither.
Dollar is mild pressure against European majors in early US session after weaker than expected growth data. Q1 GDP in US grew 0.7% annualized, sharply lower than prior quarter's 2.1% and missed expectation of 1.1%. While it's common to have a soft first quarter in recent years, the miss could prompt some adjustment in market's expectation on overall growth for the year. GDP price index, on the other hand, rose 2.3%, up from prior quarter's 2.1% and beat expectation of 2.0%. Employment cost index rose 0.8% in Q1, above expectation of 0.6%. While the greenback stays weak against European majors, in particular Sterling, it's showing some strength against Aussie and Yen and stays firm against Canadian Dollar.
The financial markets are rather steady as the week is heading for close. Euro remains the strongest major currency for the week even though it's losing some upside momentum. In particular, there is some selling seen in the common currency after ECB press conference yesterday. And on the other hand, Sterling is picking up momentum in Asian session and could overtake Euro's place. Japanese Yen and commodity currencies are generally weak. Canadian dollar got a brief lift on news that US is staying with NAFTA earlier this week. But renewed selling in crude oil is dragging down the Loonie again. Dollar is trading mixed for the moment as markets found little inspiration from US President Donald Trump's tax plan.
ECB left the monetary policy and the QE program unchanged in April. That is, the main refi rate, marginal lending rate and the depo rate stayed unchanged at 0%, 0.25% and -0.40%, respectively. Meanwhile, the asset purchase program would be continued at the pace of 60B euro per month from this month, through to the end of December 2017, or beyond, if necessary.