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US Dollar Soft while Consolidating Yesterday’s Drop

US Dollar Soft while Consolidating Yesterday's Drop

Overview: The US dollar is consolidating yesterday’s losses but is still trading with a heavier bias against the major currencies and most emerging market currencies. The US 10-year yield is soft below 2.77%, while European yields are mostly 2-4 bp higher. The peripheral premium over the core is a little narrower today. Equity markets, following the US lead, are higher today. The Hang Seng and China’s CSI 300 rose by more than 2% today. Europe’s Stoxx 600 gained almost 0.9% yesterday and is edging higher today, while US futures are also firmer. Gold popped above $1800 yesterday but could not sustain it and its in a $5 range on both sides of $1788 today. September WTI rebounded yesterday from a low near $87.65 to close near $92.00. It is firmer today near $93.00. US natgas is 1.4%, its third successive advance and is near a two-week high. Europe’s benchmark is also rising for the third session. It is up nearly 8% this week. Iron ore rose 2% today and it is the fourth gain in five sessions. September copper is also edging higher. If sustained, it would be the fifth gain in six sessions. It is at its highest level since late June. September wheat is 1.1% higher. It has risen every session this week for a cumulative gain of around 4.25%. 

Asia Pacific

In its quarterly report, the People's Bank of China seemed to downplay the likelihood of dramatic rate cuts or reductions in reserve requirements. It warned that CPI could exceed 3% and ruled out massive stimulus, while promising "high-quality" support, which sounds like a targeted measure. It is not tightening policy but signaled little scope to ease. Note that the 10-year Chinese yield is at the lower end of its six-month range near 2.74%. Its two-year yield is a little above 2.15%, slightly below the middle of its six-month range. Separately, Yiwa, a city of two million people, south of Shanghai has been locked down for three days starting today due to Covid. It is a manufacturing export hub.

South Korea reported its first drop (0.7%) in technology exports in two years last month. While some read this to a statement about world demand, and there is likely something there given the earnings reports from the chip sector. However, there seems to be something else at work too. South Korea figures show semiconductor equipment exports to China have been more than halved this year (-51.9%) through July. China had accounted for around 60% of South Korea's semiconductor equipment. Reports suggest the main drivers are the US-China rivalry. Semiconductor investment in China has fallen and South Korea has indicated it intensions to join the US Chip 4 semiconductor alliance.

Singapore's economy unexpectedly contracted in Q2. Initially, the government estimated the economy stagnated. Instead, it contracted by 0.2%. Given Singapore's role as an entrepot, its economic performance is often seen as a microcosm of the world economy. There was a nearly a 7% decline in retail trade services, while information and communication services output also fell. After the data, the Ministry of Trade and Industry narrowed this year's GDP forecast to 3%-4% from 3%-5%.

While the drop in the US 10-year yield saw the dollar tumble against the yen yesterday, the recovery in yields has not fueled a recovery in the greenback. The dollar began yesterday above JPY135- and fell to nearly JPY132.00. Today, it has been confined to a little less than around half a yen on either side of JPY132.85. The cap seen at the end of last week and early this week in the JPY135.50-60 area, and the 20-day moving average (~JPY135.30) now looks like formidable resistance. Recall that the low seen earlier this month was near JPY130.40. The Australian dollar is also consolidating near yesterday's high set slightly below $0.7110. It was the best level in two months. The $0.7050 area may now offer initial support. The next upside target is seen in the $0.7150-70 band, which houses the (50%) retracement objective of the Aussie's slide from the April high (~$0.7660) and the July low (~$0.6680), and the 200-day moving average. The broad greenback sell-off yesterday saw it ease to about CNY6.7235, its lowest level in nearly a month. Despite the less-than-dovish message from the PBOC, it seemed to signal it did not want yuan strength. It set the dollar's reference rate at CNY6.7324, a bit above the median (Bloomberg's survey) of CNY6.7308.


Germany's coalition government has begun debating over the contours of the next relief package. The center-left government has implemented two support programs to ease the cost-of-living squeeze for around 30 bln euros. A third package is under construction now. The FDP Finance Minister Linder suggested as one of the components a 10 bln euro program to offset the "bracket creep" of higher inflation putting households into a higher tax bracket. The Greens want a more targeted effort to help lower income families. More work needs to be done, but a package is expected to be ready next month.

The International Energy Agency estimates that Russian oil output will fall by around a fifth early next year as the EU import ban is implemented. The IEA warns that Russian output may begin declining as early as this month and estimates 2 mln barrels a day will be shut by early 2023. The EU's ban on most Russian oil will begin in early December, and in early February, oil products shipments will also stop. Now the EU buys around 1 mln barrels a day of oil products and 1.3 mln barrels of crude. Russia boosted output in recent months, to around 10.8 mln barrels a day. The IEA estimates that in June, the PRC overtook the EU to become the top market for Russia's seaborne crude (2.1 mln bpd vs. 1.8 mln bpd). Separately, the IEA lifted its estimate of world consumption by about 380k barrels a day from its previous forecast, concentrated in the Middle East and Europe. The unusually hot weather in the Middle East, where oil is burned for electricity, has seen stronger demand. In Europe, there has been more switched from gas to oil.

The euro surged to almost $1.0370 yesterday on the back of the softer than expected US CPI. It settled near $1.03. It is trading firmly in the upper end of that range today. It held above $1.0275, just below the previous high for the month (~$1.0295). Today's high, was set in the European morning, near $1.0340. There is a trendline from the February, March, and June highs found near $1.04 today. It is falling by a little less than half a cent a week. Sterling's rally yesterday stalled in front of this month's high set on August 1 slightly shy of $1.2295. It is straddling the area where it settled yesterday (~$1.2220). We suspect the market may test the lows near $1.2180, and a break could see another half-cent loss ahead of tomorrow's Q2 GDP. The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey is for a 0.2% contraction after a 0.8% expansion in Q1. 


What the jobs data did for expectations for the Fed at next month's meeting were largely reversed by slower the expected CPI readings. On the eve of the employment data, the market was discounting a little better than a 35% chance of another 75 bp hike. It jumped to over a 75% chance after employment report but settled yesterday around a 45% chance. It is still in its early days, and the Fed will see another employment and CPI report before it has to decide.

Although the market has downgraded the chances of a 75 bp hike at next month's meeting, it still has the Fed lifting rates 115 bp between now and the end of year. The market recognizes that that Fed is not done tightening no matter what trope is dragged out to use as a strawman. The truth is the market is pushing against some Fed views. Chicago Fed's Evans, who many regard as a dove from earlier cycles, said that Fed funds could finish next year in the 3.75%-4.00% area, which opined would be the terminal rate. The swaps market says that the Fed funds terminal rate is closer to 3.50% and in the next six months. More than that, the Fed funds futures are pricing in a cut late next year. At least a 25 bp cut has been discounted since the end of June. It was the Minneapolis Fed President Kashkari that surprised many with his hawkishness. Many see him as a dove because five years ago, he dissented against rate increases in 2017. However, he has been sounding more hawkish in this context and revealed yesterday that it was his "dot" in June at 3.90% this year and 4.4% next year. These were the most extreme forecasts. Perhaps it is not that he is more dovish or hawkish, labels that seemingly take a life on of their own but more activity. While neither Evans nor Kashkari vote on the FOMC this year, they do next year. San Francisco Fed President Daly seemed more willing to consider moderating the pace of tightening but still sees more work to be done. She does not vote this year or next. 

Headline CPI was unchanged last month and the 0.3% rise in the core rate was less than expected. At 8.5%, the headline is rate is still too high for comfort, and the unchanged 5.9% core rate warns significant progress may be slow. Shelter is about a third of the CPI basket and it is rising about 0.5% a month. It is up 5.7% year-over-year. If everything else was unchanged, this would lift CPI to 2%. The US reports July Producer Prices. Both the core and headline readings are expected to have slowed. The headline peaked in March, 11.6% above year ago levels. It was 11.3% in June and is expected to have fallen to 10.4%. The core rate is likely to post its fourth consecutive decline. It peaked at 9.6% in March and fell to 8.2% in June. The median forecast (Bloomberg's survey) is for a 7.7% year-over-year pace, which would be the lowest since last October. 

Late in the North American session, Mexico's central bank is expected to deliver its second consecutive 75 bp rate hike. It will lift the overnight target rate to 8.5%. The July CPI reported Tuesday stood at 8.15% and the core 7.65%. The swaps market has a terminal rate near 9.5% in the next six months. The subdued US CPI reading, helped spur a 0.85% rally in the JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index yesterday, its largest gain in almost four weeks. The peso, often a liquid and accessible proxy, rose around 1.1%. The greenback briefly traded below MXN20.00 for the first time since late June. The move was so sharp that closed below its lower Bollinger Band (~MXN20.08) for the first time in six months.

The US dollar slumped to almost CAD1.2750 yesterday to hold above the 200-day moving average (~CAD1.2745). It is the lowest level in nearly two months, and it has not traded below the 200-day moving average since June 9. Like the other pairs, it is consolidating today near the lower end of yesterday's greenback range. The swaps market downgraded the likelihood that the Bank of Canada follows last month's 100 bp hike with a 75 bp move when it meets on September 7. It is now seen as a 30% chance, less than half of what was projected at the end of last week. We suspect that the US dollar can recover into the CAD1.2800-20 area today.

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Marc Chandler
He has been covering the global capital markets in one fashion or another for more than 30 years, working at economic consulting firms and global investment banks. After 14 years as the global head of currency strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, Chandler joined Bannockburn Global Forex, as a managing partner and chief markets strategist as of October 1, 2018.
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