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The Dollar Continues to Press Against JPY150; Risk Off Ahead of the Weekend

The Dollar Continues to Press Against JPY150; Risk Off Ahead of the Weekend

Overview: True to the market's penchant, it heard a dovish Fed Chair Powell yesterday. He seemed to suggest that the bar to another hike was high. This helped cap the 10-year yield just in front of 5.00% and allowed foreign currencies to recover against the dollar. The US two-year yield reversed lower after rising above 5.25%. It is now around 5.15%. Still, Powell appeared to cover similar ground as several other officials, including Fed governors in recent days. The dollar is trading with a firmer bias in Europe, and it drew ever nearer JPY150. Most of the non-restricted emerging market currencies, including the South African rand, central European currencies, and Mexican peso are softer. Gold is extending it surge for the fourth consecutive session and is above $1980 having settled last week a little below $1933. It is up nearly $150 an ounce since the Hamas attack. December WTI is also rising for the fourth consecutive session. It settled near $86.35 last week and approached $90 today. It is up roughly 10% over the past two weeks. 

Equities are lower, and given the geopolitical developments, risk-off moves ahead of the weekend are not surprising. Asia Pacific equities are a sea of red today and this week. South Korea and Australia indices lead today's move with more than 1% drawdowns, but on the week China's CSI 300's 4.2% drop is the region's largest loss. The Stoxx 600's nearly 1% drop today brings this week's decline to above 3%, the most since March. US indices are softer and have fallen for the past three sessions. European 10-year benchmark yields are narrowly mixed with most peripheral yields slightly softer and core rates a little firmer. Gilts remain under pressure with the 10-year yield up nearly three basis points to a new high for the week near 4.70%. The 10-year US Treasury yield is off 4.5 bp to about 4.95%. Itis up about 24 bp this week. The implied yield of the December 2024 Fed funds futures has risen by almost 12 bp this week.   

Asia Pacific

It was a mixed week for China. Growth in Q3 was a little better than expected even though the property sector remains distressed, and Country Garden is on precipice of default, having missed the final deadline of a coupon payment on a dollar bond. China surprised the international community striking a debt agreement with Sri Lanka before the Paris Club. It celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Belt Road Initiative, Although the US has been critical, and Europe has become more disenchanted, developing countries in Asia, Latam, and Africa are more may still be attracted. The media jumped all over US Treasury data showing that China sold $21.2 bln of US bonds, including Agency debt, in August. The $5.1 bln in divestment of US equities appears to be a record. Still, before filing this under de-dollarization, note that China's sales were largely offset by a movement into bills and short-term securities, not out of the dollar. Note too that in addition to the BRI, Xi's other global initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank also makes dollar loans. Meanwhile, the US defense of Israel did not bolster Washington's standing among large parts of the so-called Global South, which China's says it champions. Lastly, that Chinese banks did not reduce the loan prime rates was not surprising after the PBOC left the one-year Medium-Term Lending Facility rate unchanged earlier this week at 2.50%.

Japan's September CPI softened a little and was largely signaled by the Tokyo's report a couple of weeks ago. Headline CPI eased to 3.0% from 3.2%. This is the lowest reading so far this year and matches the low since July 2022. The core rate, which excludes fresh food, fell to 2.8% from 3.1%. This is the rate that the BOJ targets at 2%. It peaked in January at 4.2%. The measure that excludes fresh food and energy eased to 4.2% from 4.3%, which was the peak seen first in May and then July and August. The low for the year as set in January at 3.2%. Both of these core rates were slightly firmer than expected. Some press reports suggest that at the BOJ meeting at the end of the month, the inflation forecast could be raised to 3.0% this fiscal year from 2.5% and next year's projection raise to a little above 2% from 1.9%. The forecast for FY25 may stay below 2% (set at 1.6% in July). Note that here are two byelections on Sunday and Prime Minister Kishida is set to deliver an important policy speech on Monday, which is expected to address fiscal policy.

The dollar reached JPY149.96 in North America yesterday according to Bloomberg. In effect, it came within 2/10000 of a cent shy of the equivalent of JPY150 (~0.006666). There are options for a little more than $1 bln struck at JPY150 that expire today and Bloomberg has today's high at JPY149.99. In the Powell-induced pullback, the dollar fell to new session lows but found new bids slightly below JPY149.70, where it found support today, as well. The Australian dollar recovered in North America from the dip in Asia and Europe below $0.6300, and Powell's comments goosed it up to almost $0.6360, where it ran out of steam. It stalled near a retracement of the two-day decline and in front of the 20-day moving average (~$0.6375). It returned to the $0.6300 area today and has mostly held below $0.6330. The greenback rose against the Chinese yuan for the fourth time this week and made a marginal new high today near CNY7.3185. It is the strongest the US dollar has been since September 11. The PBOC injected a record amount of liquidity (CNY828 bln, or ~$115 bln) through its reverse repo operations today apparently to facilitate upcoming tax period and new government bond issuance. The PBOC set the dollar's reference rate at CNY7.1793, a new low for the week. The average projection in the Bloomberg survey was for CNY7.3074.


It was not a particularly good week for the UK. It announced that jobs were lost in September for the third consecutive month, though wage pressures eased slightly more than anticipated in the three months through August. Still, September CPI rose 0.5% and the year-over-year rate, and especially service prices were firmer than expected. Earlier today, a 0.9% decline in retail sales were announced, and a 1% drop when gasoline is excluded. The drop was more than twice the median forecasts in Bloomberg's survey. Many economists think the UK economy stagnated in Q3 and look for the same in Q4. The 10-year Gilt yield jumped 30 bp this week, the most in nearly four months and rose every day this week. Separately, the Labour took both previously held Conservative seats in yesterday's byelection. 

Germany lifted its objections to (France) using state subsidies to fund its nuclear power plants, which provide 70% of its electricity. However, in the grand horse-trading exercise, it may mean that Berlin will not compromise on its backing of re-imposing the Stability and Growth Pact, which will force many countries to tighten fiscal policy. Germany has an "escape clause” if it is in a recession. Meanwhile, US and European officials meet in Washington today. The US wants Europe to impose a 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum from non-market economies (i.e., China). In exchange, Europe wants the so-called Trump-era tariffs to be permanently lifted. The US is trying to preserve the right to reimpose the duties on Europe in the future. Lastly, there is still hope that a US-EU agreement can be struck on critical minerals. 

With Powell's help, the euro rose to a five-day high near $1.0615 yesterday. Some of the buying may have been related to the nearly 900 mln euro options at $1.0550 and nearly 2 bln euros in options struck at $1.06 that expire today. There are almost nearly $2.5 bln in options at $1.0625 expiring today. Still, the euro failed to settle above $1.0600, which tarnished the otherwise firm performance. Last week's high was near $1.0640. A move above there would lift the technical tone, but so far today, the euro has held below $1.06. Support is seen in the $1.0555-60 area. Sterling's recovery from $1.2090 was impressive but new sellers emerged as it approached $1.2200. Yesterday was the first session since the US employment data on October 6 that sterling was unable to trade above $1.22. It retested yesterday's lows today after the disappointing retail sales report. It recovered by looks capped around $1.2140. Separately, note that S&P reviews Greece's debt later today and its BB+ rating. An upgrade to investment grade is possible. DBRS already did so last month. S&P is also due to review Italy's BBB rating today. We suspect the risk is of an outlook downgrade to negative from stable.


It was a mixed week for the US. The key economic data were stronger than expected. This included retail sales, industrial production, and business inventories. The Atlanta Fed's GDP tracker for Q3 GDP was lifted to 5.4% (from 5.1% in the previous week) and several money center banks revised up their forecasts as well. The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey sees 4% growth, when it is reported next week. The 10-year bond yield reached 4.99% yesterday. It settled at 4.61% last week. Almost half the increase seems to come from the change in expectations for overnight rates next year. The implied yield of the December 2024 Fed funds contract rose 16 bp this week before pulling back in response to Fed Chair Powell's comments. The other half of the increase in the 10-year note yield appears to reflect the term premium, which is "compensation" for risk that the yield rises over the life of the bond. It is the part that can be argued is tightening financial conditions beyond what the Fed has done. Yet, the rising rates did not prevent bank shares from advancing, even b Coming into today the index of large bank shares, perhaps helped by the earnings reports is up about 0.20% this week, which if sustained would be the first back-to-back weekly gains since July. An index of regional bank shares is up about 2.4% this week, the largest advance in seven weeks. On the other hand, the House of Representatives still has been unable to pick a speaker and the Beige Book picked up growing concerns about the economic outlook. 

Canada and Mexico report August retail sales today. The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey calls for a 0.1% decline, which would be the first since March. If true, it probably overstates the weakness of the Canadian economy. Still, the economy is nearly stagnant. The Q2 contraction of 0.2% at an annualized rate is expected to be followed by a 0.3%-0.4% expansion in Q3. The Bank of Canada meets next week, and the odds of a hike have been downgraded in the swaps market to less than 13% from more than 38% at the end of last week. Retail sales are expected to edge up by 0.1% in Mexico. They had risen by 0.2% in July. Mexico's retail sales rose at an annualized rate about 14% in Q2 after falling at a 4.0% annualized rate in Q1 23. On a quarterly basis, the Mexican economy expanded by 0.8% in Q1 and Q2 23. It is expected to slow to around 0.5% in Q3 and further in Q4.

The US dollar was consolidating its gains that took it to CAD1.3740 in Europe yesterday before Powell spoke. The greenback slumped to CAD1.3680 but quickly bounced before stalling near CAD1.3710. It is consolidating quietly inside yesterday's range. A close below CAD1.3680 would be constructive for the Canadian dollar. Still, the US dollar needs to fall back below CAD1.3600 to be anything of technical importance and, ideally, below last week's lows in the CAD1.3570-80 area. The US dollar reached almost MXN18.40 yesterday in Europe and fell to a session low near MXN18.16 after Powell's comments before stabilizing. The dollar is consolidating firmly near yesterday's highs. A break of the MXN18.4860 high seen earlier this month, could signal a move toward MXN18.80. Recall that in Q2, the peso fell in four weeks. Assuming it does not recover much today, the peso would have weakened for the sixth week in the past eight. At the risk of oversimplifying, it appears the risk-off has met the overweight positioning. Moreover, as the volatility is rising, and this also impacts the attractiveness of carry strategies. Three-month implied volatility has risen from below 9% in July to above 16% this month and is now around 15.25%. Lastly, Argentina holds presidential elections on Sunday, but a second round will likely be necessary (November 19). 


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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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