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Forex and Cryptocurrency Forecast

EUR/USD: A Pause After the Rally

Last week, 60% of analysts adopted a neutral stance in their previous forecast and were proven absolutely correct. EUR/USD had a calm week, even boring at times, moving along the 1.0650 mark within the narrow corridor of 1.0600-1.0690. Market participants were recuperating from the rally of the preceding days, with dollar bulls counting profits and bears licking their wounds. The American currency reached five-month highs against the euro, British pound, Australian, and New Zealand dollars, while USD/JPY once again set a 34-year price record, and the DXY index climbed to 106.42.

The macroeconomic data from the U.S., unmistakably inflationary in nature, started making an impact on March 8 with the employment report. NonFarm Payrolls exceeded expectations at 275K, compared to the previous 229K and the forecast of 198K, propelling the dollar upwards. Another boost came on April 10 with fresh U.S. inflation data showing a year-on-year Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase of 3.5%, the highest in six months, which quashed any expectations of a rate cut in June, sending the Dollar Index soaring.

Last week’s macroeconomic figures only reinforced the image of a robust U.S. economy with a tight labour market. The number of unemployment benefit claims stayed at a relatively low level of 212K, and the manufacturing activity indicator hit its highest mark in two years. Retail sales data released on April 15 almost doubled the forecast at 0.4%, actually coming in at 0.7% month-on-month, following a 0.9% increase in February, with a year-on-year increase of 4.0%. These figures indicate that both manufacturers and consumers have well adapted to the high interest rates. Employment and income levels are sufficiently high, increasing the likelihood of price rises.

In this context, there is no reason for the Fed to start a cycle of monetary easing in June, especially since inflation is still far from the 2.0% target. Market participants are now expecting the first rate cut by 25 basis points in September, with another similar cut by the end of the year. These forecasts were confirmed by John Williams, the head of the New York Federal Reserve, who noted that the latest inflation data were disappointing and that there was no urgent need to cut interest rates. Consequently, U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar are rising, while stock indices such as the S&P 500, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq are on the decline.

Attempts by EUR/USD bulls to initiate a rebound were halted on April 18 at the 1.0690 level after Francois Villeroy de Galhau, Vice-President of the ECB and head of the Bank of France, confirmed that the European regulator would likely cut rates in June if there were no significant surprises. Even hawkish figures like Robert Holzmann, head of Austria’s central bank, agreed with these dovish forecasts.

The pair closed the five-day period at 1.0656. Fundamental indicators still favour the dollar, and although a correction northward for the pair cannot be ruled out, it is unlikely to be substantial or prolonged. For the immediate future, as of the evening of April 19, 80% of experts anticipate further strengthening of the dollar, with the remaining 20% expecting a bounce upwards. Among trend indicators on D1, 90% are red, and 10% are green. All oscillators are red, though 15% of them are in the oversold zone. The nearest support for the pair is found at 1.0600-1.0620, followed by 1.0560, 1.0495-1.0515, and 1.0450, down to 1.0375, 1.0255, 1.0130, and 1.0000. Resistance zones are at 1.0680-1.0695, 1.0725, 1.0795-1.0800, up to 1.0865, 1.0895-1.0925, 1.0965-1.0980, and 1.1015, reaching up to 1.1050 and 1.1100-1.1140.

The upcoming workweek can be termed a week of preliminary data. On Tuesday, April 23, preliminary business activity data (PMI) will be released for various sectors of the economy in Germany, the Eurozone, and the USA. On Thursday, April 25, preliminary U.S. GDP figures for Q1 2024 will be released. This will be followed by the usual data on initial unemployment claims and, on April 26, data on personal consumption expenditures in the country.

GBP/USD: CPI Disappoints BoE

Last week’s macroeconomic statistics from the United Kingdom were less than favourable. Unemployment unexpectedly rose to 4.2% from a forecast of 4.0%. Claims for unemployment benefits surged from 4.1K to 10.9K, although this was notably below the market’s expectation of 17.2K.

The bigger surprise came from the inflation indicators released on Wednesday, April 17. General inflation (CPI) decreased from 3.4% to 3.2% year-on-year, and core inflation dropped from 4.5% to 4.2%, against a market expectation of 4.1%. The monthly CPI remained steady at 0.6%. Unexpectedly high food prices and a sharp increase in housing costs at 3.8% month-on-month contributed to the inflation surprise. Volatile items such as books and video games also saw significant price rises; book prices experienced the largest monthly increase ever recorded at 4.9%, while video games prices increased by 2.3%.

“Overall, this is not what the Bank of England (BoE) would have wanted to see,” analysts at TD Securities commented. BoE Governor Andrew Bailey quickly reassured the public, stating, “We are virtually at the same inflation level as in February and I expect the data next month to show a significant drop.” He also mentioned that the oil price hike had not been as steep as expected, and the impact of the Middle East conflict was less than feared.

Indeed, the price rise in airline tickets, which are significantly influenced by fuel costs, was just 0.1% month-on-month. Given the early Easter this year, this increase seems quite mild. However, BoE Monetary Policy Committee member Megan Greene expressed concerns about how energy prices and other supply shocks might affect inflation expectations in the future.

Recall that a week earlier, Megan Greene, in her column in the Financial Times, stated that inflation risks in the United Kingdom remain much higher than in the USA, and that ‘markets are mistaken in their predictions regarding rate cuts [for the pound].’ ‘Markets have come to believe that the Fed will not start lowering rates so soon. In my view,’ she wrote at the time, ‘rate cuts in the United Kingdom should also not be expected anytime soon.’ Following such remarks, just as with the dollar, markets anticipate no more than two rate cuts from the Bank of England this year, each by 25 basis points.

Last week, GBP/USD opened at 1.2448 and closed at 1.2370, failing to breach the key 1.2500 level. Analysts are divided on the pair’s future movement: 80% foresee a further decline, while 20% predict a rebound. All D1 trend indicators and oscillators point downwards, though a third are signalling oversold conditions. If the pair falls further, support lies at 1.2330, 1.2185-1.2210, 1.2110, 1.2035-1.2070, 1.1960, and 1.1840. In case of a rise, resistance will be encountered at 1.2425, 1.2515, 1.2575-1.2610, 1.2695-1.2710, 1.2755-1.2775, 1.2800-1.2820, and 1.2885-1.2900.

The upcoming week will see the release of preliminary business activity data (PMI) for the United Kingdom almost simultaneously with Germany and the Eurozone on Tuesday, April 23. No other significant economic data from the United Kingdom is expected this week.

USD/JPY: Higher and Higher…

Last week, USD/JPY once again reached a 34-year high, peaking at 154.78. This level was last seen in 1990. According to economists at the Singapore-based United Overseas Bank (UOB), the pricing dynamics continue to suggest further strengthening of the dollar. “The upside risks remain as long as the dollar stays above 153.75, our strong support level,” they wrote. “Should the price break above 155.00, focus will shift to 155.50.” Meanwhile, strategists from the Dutch Rabobank believe that reaching 155.00 could significantly increase the risk of currency interventions by the Japanese Ministry of Finance to protect the yen from further weakening. According to the results of a survey published by Reuters, nearly all respondents (91%) believe that Tokyo will intervene at some point to stop further weakening of the currency. Sixteen out of twenty-one economists expect interventions in the USD/JPY at the level of 155.00. The rest predict similar actions at levels of 156.00 (2 respondents), 157.00 (1), and 158.00 (2).

Strengthening the national currency could involve tightening monetary policy by the Bank of Japan (BoJ), whose next meeting is scheduled for Friday, April 26. At its last meeting on March 19, the Japanese regulator made an unprecedented move by raising the rate from -0.1% to +0.1%, the first increase in 17 years. Asahi Noguchi, a BoJ board member, indicated that any future rate increases would likely occur at a much slower pace compared to recent tightenings by other global central banks. He noted that it would take a significant amount of time for a positive rate cycle to become firmly established, making it uncertain whether there will be another rate increase this year.

A Reuters poll showed that no economists expect a rate hike by the BoJ before the end of June. However, 21 out of 61 respondents believe that rates could be raised in the third quarter, and 17 out of 55 anticipate a fourth-quarter hike. Of a smaller sample of 36 economists, 19% think a July hike is possible, but October is the most likely time for an increase, with approximately 36% expecting it. In contrast, 31% believe the BoJ might take action in 2025 or later.

The pair closed the week at 154.63. Rabobank experts currently see the dollar being supported by demand for safe assets amid escalating Middle East tensions. A de-escalation between Israel and Iran could help temper the rise of the American currency. The median forecast surprisingly aligns with predictions for the two previously mentioned pairs: 80% of analysts expect further weakening (downward movement for this pair indicates a strengthening dollar), while 20% anticipate a rebound. All D1 trend indicators and oscillators point upwards, with 50% in the overbought zone. The nearest support level is around 154.30, with further support at 153.90, 153.50, 152.75, 151.55-151.75, 150.80-151.15, 149.70-150.00, 148.40, 147.30-147.60, and 146.50. Identifying resistance levels remains challenging after the pair’s recent peaks, with the nearest resistance at 154.75-155.00, followed by 156.25. Additional benchmarks include the June 1990 monthly high around 155.80 and the April 1990 turnaround peak at 160.30.

Besides the aforementioned BoJ meeting, consumer inflation data for the Tokyo area will also be published on Friday, April 26. No other major events regarding the Japanese economy are expected next week.

CRYPTOCURRENCIES: Will China’s BTC-ETF Ignite the Market?

This analysis is prepared just hours before the ‘hour X’: the scheduled halving on Saturday, April 20. We will detail the market’s reaction to this significant event next week. Meanwhile, let’s focus on the events leading up to it.

In the days leading up to the halving, the leading cryptocurrency did not bring joy to investors. Starting on April 8, the price of bitcoin was on a downward trajectory. The weekly decline in BTC was the largest in the past eight months, and in dollar terms, it was the steepest since the FTX exchange collapse in November 2022. Following bitcoin, other major altcoins also plummeted, losing about a third of their value. The local minimum for BTC/USD was recorded on April 17 at around $59,640. At that moment, analyst and co-founder of venture company CMCC Crest, Willy Woo, warned that if the price of bitcoin fell below the short-term holders’ support level at $58,900, the market might enter a bear phase. However, this did not occur, and the price returned to around $62,000.

Analysts at CryptoQuant believe that the recent crash was necessary to reset unrealized trader profits to zero—a typical signal of a bottom in bull markets. Willy Woo suggested that “current bearish sentiments are actually a bullish sign,” and that the next level where major short liquidations would occur is between $71,000 and $75,000. Renowned trader RektCapital reassured investors, stating that a price drop before the halving is a normal trend. “There is no need to panic, as this drop has occurred in all cycles. Don’t think that it’s different this time,” he emphasized.

There were, however, other theories about the recent price drop. According to one, the fall in bitcoin was helped by the escalation of conflict in the Middle East and an attack by Iran on Israel. CEO of Galaxy Digital, Mike Novogratz, speculated that bitcoin could reach a new all-time high if the conflict in that region subsided. In this context, he urged world leaders to take control of the situation to prevent a further decline in prices for all financial assets, including cryptocurrency.

In contrast, Michael Saylor, president of MicroStrategy, believes that geopolitical tension will actually benefit bitcoin, suggesting that “chaos is good for bitcoin.” Logically, this makes sense: cryptocurrency was born in response to the economic crisis of 2008, making it an alternative means of capital preservation during upheavals. (Note that MicroStrategy, with 205,000 BTC on its balance sheet, is the largest public holder of bitcoin and naturally interested in its price increase.)

OpenAI’s ChatGPT did not overlook the international situation either. This Artificial Intelligence believes that if the crisis between Israel and Iran intensifies, the price of the main cryptocurrency will only slightly decrease, and this will be a short-term reaction. More severe impacts would likely be on assets like stocks. Bitcoin, however, is expected to quickly recover its position. ChatGPT, like Michael Saylor, anticipates that an initial drop will be followed by a bullish rally as investors look for a safe haven, potentially driving “digital gold” to a new historical high of $75,000. If the escalation in the Middle East becomes protracted and leads to a series of smaller conflicts, ChatGPT predicts the volatility range for bitcoin could expand: with an initial fall to $55,000 followed by a surge to $80,000.

It is worth noting that the discussed drop in BTC/USD occurred against the backdrop of a noticeable strengthening of the American currency. This was not only due to the dollar’s role as a safe-haven asset amid geopolitical tension but also because of a postponement in market expectations regarding the timing of the Fed’s easing of monetary policy. After the inflation data published on April 10, market participants decided that the first rate cut would not happen in June but in September, causing the Dollar Index (DXY) to surge sharply. Naturally, the strengthening of one asset in a currency pair led to the weakening of the other: the principle of leverage is irrefutable.

Now, a few words about what awaits the main cryptocurrency after the halving. This year, 75% of the investment influx has been provided by the newly launched spot bitcoin ETFs in the U.S. Their combined balance now totals $12.5 billion, with the U.S. accounting for over 95% of the global inflow into exchange-traded crypto funds. The interest in ETFs has been so strong that BlackRock’s fund became the fastest-growing in history.

According to CryptoQuant analysts, the reserves of bitcoin on exchanges will last only a few months at the current rates. Total available exchange reserves have decreased by more than 800,000 BTC and have reached their lowest level in the history of two-year observations. As of April 16, they stand at about 2 million BTC. Assuming a daily influx into spot BTC-ETFs of about $500 million, which at current prices equates to approximately 8,025 coins, it would take just nine months to completely deplete these reserves.

The results of calculations using the Stock-to-Flow (S2F) model, which demonstrates the relationship between an asset’s usage and its reserves, show that after the halving, the bitcoin S2F coefficient will reach 112 points. This is nearly twice the S2F for gold (60 points), indicating that by January 2025, bitcoin will become a more scarce commodity than the most popular precious metal.

In such a scenario, another powerful new driver could emerge. Following the U.S., similar investment inflows into cryptocurrency could be provided by spot ETFs in China. According to insider information from Bloomberg, the SEC of Hong Kong could make a positive decision on launching such funds within the next few days. And perhaps the predictions by ARK Invest’s CEO, Cathy Wood, and author Robert Kiyosaki, who expect the price of bitcoin to reach $2.3 million per coin by 2030, are not so far from the truth.

As of the evening of Friday, April 19, BTC/USD is trading around $64,150. The total market capitalization of the crypto market stands at $2.32 trillion, down from $2.44 trillion a week ago. The Crypto Fear & Greed Index has dropped from 79 to 66 points, moving from the Extreme Greed zone to the Greed zone.

Finally, a bit of intriguing information for collectors. As it has been revealed, miners have begun active preparations for the “hunt” for the first “epic” satoshi to be mined after the current halving. Whoever mines it might receive a substantial sum, as the estimated value of this “collectible” digital coin could be several tens of millions of dollars. About two years ago, Casey Rodarmor, creator of the Ordinals protocol on the blockchain of the first cryptocurrency, developed a system for classifying the rarity of individual sats. With the launch of “inscriptions,” it became possible to number and sell fractions of bitcoin similar to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Rodarmor’s scale varies from the first “unusual” satoshi in each block to the “mythical” – the very first in the history of the blockchain. One of the highest degrees of rarity is the “epic” sat, mined in the first block after each halving. It is possible that collectors might value such an asset even at $50 million. (Remember that a satoshi is one hundred millionth of a bitcoin (0.00000001), and at the current BTC price, the price of a regular, non-collectible sat is just $0.00064).



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