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AFEX FX Market Watch - Monday 6th March
Today's key data • AUD Retail sales MoM • GBP MPC Member Hogg speaks
There are two main themes that are moving the Pound at the moment. Firstly, Brexit and secondly the latest economic data. Regarding the former, the Government was defeated in its aim to see the Brexit bill pass through the House of Lords without being amended. This has pushed the possible triggering of Article 50 back to March 15th, as the House of Commons will in all probability merely over rule the House of Lords. Encompassed in the Brexit theme is the desire of the SNP to call a referendum on Scotland seeking independence from the UK. Last Friday the UK Prime Minister May countered claims from Scotland's First Minister Sturgeon that another referendum was inevitable, citing the latest polls which suggest that the Scottish electorate does not want another referendum on independence. However, the affect of these discussions is negative sentiment towards the Pound. The second theme is of course economics and how the UK economy is faring in the face of the upcoming Brexit. UK retail sales slipped last month and last week the important Services PMI data fell to 53.3 from last month’s 54.5. In this case both themes are currently pointing to a weaker sterling. The main event this week is the UK budget to be delivered by Chancellor Hammond on Wednesday. This is the last spring budget before he moves to an annual Autumn budget, and with the economy only just starting to slow down there may be some slack in the numbers to compensate for where the widely publicised detrimental effects of the increase in business rates occur.
German and European CPI data have been pushing higher in the face of oil price increases, with German CPI YoY now at 2.2% and Eurozone CPI at 2.0% YoY. The ECB's inflation target is 2.0% and Germany in particular is voicing concern that the ECB is still holding interest rates at -0.4% stimulating inflation and the economy. However, we expect no change from the ECB meeting this week with President Draghi probably pointing out that core CPI is still very steady at 0.9%. We also have revised Eurozone GDP for release on Tuesday, with Friday seeing the important German trade balance announced. With the new Trump Presidency looking at free and fair trade and already calling out Germany as having an unfair currency advantage, this trade figure may well grow in importance.
Last week was all about the Fed and how it managed to move the markets expectations for a rate hike, from below 40% to around 90% in 5 working days. Congress also received its first address from the new President, and the US equity markets kept looking forwards to his well-publicised stimulus package. The has led to a 1000 point rise in the Dow Jones from 20000 to 21000 in just 24 days and equalling the fastest ever move made in 1999. That year the Dow moved from 10000 to 11000 and as such the recent move is smaller percentage wise but it is still impressive. The US Dollar gained across the board in the face of the more hawkish Fed, with NY Fed Dudley commenting that the case for a Fed rate hike was "now a lot more compelling". Fed Chair Yellen rounded the week off confirming that a rate hike in March was appropriate if the data holds up. So now we look to the all-important non-farm payrolls data released on Friday. The data needs to be very poor for the Fed not to hike rates by 25 bps on March 15th.
The Commodity currencies had been enjoying rallies against the major currencies underpinned by higher interest rates and rising commodity prices over recent weeks/months. The markets took a breather last week as Australian trade data was much worse than expected, recording a surplus of AUD 1.302 bio and much lower than the expected AUD 3.8 bio. Metal prices also fell hard and dragged the AUD lower with the NZD following its antipodean brother. There was also weakness in the oil price as it was reported that Russia was only cutting oil production by 100k bpd against its promised 300k bpd with Saudi Arabia also lowering its oil price. In this case with the Bank of Canada keeping rates unchanged the CAD weakened as well. This week sees Australian retail sales being released Monday and the RBA setting the Official Cash Rate on Tuesday. We expect no change from the RBA.