The euro is having a quiet week, as the pair continues to stay close to the 1.14 line. On the release front, there are no major events out of the eurozone. With a lack of data so far this week, investors have been consolidating positions, contributing to the lack of movement from EUR/USD. In the US, today’s key event is JOLTS Job Openings, which is expected to come in at 5.98 million, lower than the previous reading of 6.04 million. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will testify before the House Financial Services Committee.
The US wrapped up last week with key employment numbers, and the results were mixed. Nonfarm Payrolls rebounded in June, climbing to 222 thousand. This easily beat the estimate of 175 thousand and marked a 4-month high. However, wage growth remained stuck at 0.2%, shy of the forecast of 0.3%. Weak wage growth has remained soft throughout the first half of 2017, which is somewhat puzzling, as the labor market remains extremely tight, with an unemployment rate of 4.4%. As well, there are widespread reports of a lack of qualified workers, but this hasn’t translated into higher wages.
The markets reacted positively to the solid Nonfarm Payrolls report, but there expectations of a third rate hike in 2017 remain lukewarm. A rate increase in September is very unlikely, with the odds pegged at just 13%, according to the CME Group. As for December, the likelihood of a rate hike is 50%, so the markets will need plenty of convincing that the Fed plans to make a move. What factors will raise the odds of a rate increase? First, second quarter growth will have to improve, after a weak performance in the first quarter, in which GDP rose just 1.4%. Second, stronger inflation levels would boost speculation of a rate hike. Currently, inflation is well below the Fed’s target of 2%, and although Janet Yellen recently stated that the factors weighing on inflation were temporary, investors aren’t convinced. Third, the Fed has outlined plans to reduce its bloated balance sheet, but has avoided providing any specifics. If the Fed started to lower the balance sheet in September, such a move would mark a vote of confidence in the economy and raise speculation of a rate hike to follow in December.