On a Slippery Floor

While the US economy has been surprisingly resilient this year to the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) aggressive monetary tightening, we cannot say that we have a similar soothing picture in Europe. The energy crisis, that followed the pandemic, has been hard on Germany. The country needs money when money becomes rare and expensive. Germany decided to suspend the debt limit for the 4th consecutive year – signaling that borrowing in Europe will continue to increase, and the new debt that the Europeans will take on their shoulders will cost significantly higher than a few years ago.

German bonds fell yesterday on news of yet another suspension of the debt limit. The 10-year German yield advanced to 2.60%, Italy’s 10-year yield jumped to 4.40%, the Italian–German yield spread rebounded this week from the lowest levels since September, and the widening yield spread between core and periphery could become a limiting factor for euro appetite at a time traders should decide whether the EURUSD should appreciate above the 1.10 psychological mark.

As per the European Central Bank (ECB) expectations, European officials do their best to tame the rate cut expectations in the Eurozone. Belgian central bank governor Pierre Wunsch said yesterday that the ECB won’t cut the rates as long as wages growth remains elevated, while the German central bank head Joachim Nagel said that cutting rates too early would be a mistake. A mistake? Maybe. Yet, economic data comes as further evidence that the European economies are not going toward sunny days. Released yesterday, the European PMI figures came in slightly better than expected, but the reading was below 50 for the 6th consecutive month, meaning that activity in the Eurozone contracted for the 6th consecutive month. The Eurozone GDP fell below 0 at the latest reading, while in comparison, the US GDP grew nearly 5%. This is to say that, based on the current data, the Fed has a greater margin for keeping rates steady than their European counterparts. It at least has better credibility. And the Fed’s bigger hawkish margin compared to the ECB should keep the euro appetite limited against the US dollar following the rally since the beginning of October.

In the US, despite warnings that the falling US long-term yields will, at some point, trigger a hawkish reaction from the Fed and eventually reverse, the Fed doves remain in charge of the market. The US dollar index struggles to gain traction above the 200-DMA.

The USDJPY remains offered near the 50-DMA after the Japanese inflation advanced to a 3-month high in October (rose to 3.3% level from 3% printed a month earlier). Normally, it would’ve boosted bets of Bank of Japan (BoJ) normalization, but the BoJ should first awaken from its coma.

In energy, US crude trades near $75/76 region. Downside risks prevail due to speculation that the delayed OPEC meeting could result in Saudi Arabia not doubling its solo production cuts. There is even a slim possibility that they eventually reverse them.

I am wondering if this week’s drama is not staged amid poor buying following the news that Saudi would doble its cuts, to cast shadow in Saudi’s intention to defend oil prices, to bring attention to OPEC and to Saudi which finally would go ahead and double its production cuts hoping that the market reaction would be stronger than if they had announced the same outcome this weekend. In all cases, deteriorating growth prospects will likely limit the upside potential in oil prices in the medium run. The short run will certainly see more volatility.

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