Hawkish Pause?

Strikes at GM, Ford and Stellantis factories dampened overall market sentiment on Monday. The walkout led by United Auta Workers (UAW) began last Friday and saw little progress as the union refused a 21% pay rise offered to workers. Shawn Fain, who is at the helm of the movement, demands a 40% pay rise and 32-hour workweek – unprecedented for the US. Good luck to both parties in these negotiations.

GM, Ford and Stellantis fell yesterday. The barrel of US crude traded past the $92 level, as Brent crude advanced past $95pb. I believe that we are approaching a peak in the actual oil rally and we should see a downside correction of at least 5-6% from the actual levels, yet the damage from rising oil prices is already showing in inflation numbers. That’s partly why the European Central Bank (ECB) announced a ‘dovish hike’ last week.

A hawkish pause?

This week, the US policymakers will certainly opt for a ‘hawkish pause’. The Fed will likely revise its growth expectations significantly higher on the back of resilient consumer spending and solid growth. The looming talk of another government shutdown, the student loan repayments and the UAW strikes will sure have a negative impact on US growth numbers, but US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen defends the scenario of ‘soft landing’ as labour market is still healthy, industrial output is rising and inflation is coming down, she says.

Despite the latest softness in the jobs data, the US inflation figures last week surprised to the upside. A major part of disinflation since last summer was due to waning post-Covid supply issues that led to higher supply, hence slower price growth. But the improvement in supply could be coming to an end, and oil prices are rising. Therefore, the Fed will certainly sound cautious and reasonably hawkish this week. The so called dot plot will certainly point at another rate hike before the year end, and a higher median rate throughout next year.

The US dollar index tested the important 38.2% Fibonacci resistance last week, especially after the euro sold off following the ECB rate hike. The Fed announcement could push the US dollar index into the medium-term bullish consolidation zone.

A dovish hike?

If the Fed is not expected – not even a little bit – to hike rates this week, the Bank of England (BoE) could hike the bank rate by a final 25bp on Thursday. It’s possible that a hawkish pause from the Fed propels the dollar higher, while a dovish hike from the BoE has the opposite impact on sterling. Cable slid below its 200-DMA last week and is now back in a long-term bearish trend.

And nothing?

In Japan, not much is expected to change this week. Warnings from Japanese officials that a further yen selloff would spark a direct FX intervention slowed down but not reversed the JPY selloff. The USDJPY is trading just below the 148 level, with, sure, limited upside potential, and of course a good downside potential, but that downside potential must be unlocked by a reasonably hawkish BoJ, and I don’t see that coming this week.

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