Weekly Review & Lookahead on Major FX Pairs (11 – 17 Feb 2019)

  • The two major economies of the Eurozone registered weak macroeconomic data for the week. The Bank of England (BoE) trimmed its GDP outlook from 1.7% to 1.2% in 2019, citing uncertainty over Brexit.
  • The Euro was generally weak, but the US dollar also remains subdued due to trade tensions and the threat of another round of government shutdown from 15 February if President Trump and Congress fail to agree on the budget.
  • US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are traveling to China next week to continue trade negotiations.

These significant drivers will continue to determine market directions.

EUR/USD Review

  • Italy - Germany 10-yield Bond spread rises to the highest level in more than two months.
  • The European Commission downgraded its growth forecasts for the euro area for this year and 2020, from 1.9% to 1.3% and from 1.7% to 1.6% respectively.
  • Germany’s seasonally adjusted industrial production unexpectedly fell for the fourth consecutive month by 0.4% MoM in December.
  • Germany’s factory orders unexpectedly dropped 1.6% MoM in December, signaling further signs of an economic slowdown and defying market consensus for a gain of 0.3%.
  • The IHS Markit France Service PMI showed the sharpest decline in business activity in 5 years. Despite the intensity of the 'gilets Jaunes' protests easing throughout January, output fell at the quickest pace since February 2014.
  • EUR/USD registered the worst weekly decline (-1.17%) since Sep 2018.

Looking Ahead

Based on recent macroeconomic data of the Eurozone, it shows weak economic growth and is expected to decline further in the midterm. Political issues such as the EU parliamentary elections coming up in May will potentially weigh on the EUR/USD in the coming months. The currency pair is trading between the 1.13 – 1.15 range since January and with low volume. With the recent weak economic data, there is a high probability for the currency pair to break below 1.13 to 1.12 in the next 3 – 6 months. This is sure to happen unless strong economy data returns to regain lost market confidence or USD weakening due to a high possibility of a 2nd round of government shutdown and an unfavorable outcome from the upcoming US-China trade meeting.

GBP/USD Review

  • BOE kept its interest rate steady at 0.75%.
  • GDP outlook trimmed to 1.2% from 1.7% in 2019, citing uncertainty over Brexit.
  • Growth projections for 2020 were also lowered to 1.5%, while the growth outlook for 2021 was raised to 1.9%.
  • The services PMI published on last Tuesday fell below expectations and stood at the brink of a recession with a reading of 50.1 in January.
  • The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May held a meeting with EU top officials last Thursday, but there was no progress in the loathed issue of the Irish border backstop.

Looking Ahead

Brexit is the dominating theme for UK assets and will continue to remain as such, with uncertainty likely to continue. The currency pair broke weekly trendline and closed below 1.295 for the week. It is now at the primary support zone between 1.27 – 1.295. Note that the volume is weak and will need more strength to fall further. On the other hand, the price may retest the resistance zone at 1.297 – 1.32 level. GBP is likely to stay vulnerable against its major currency rivals unless the numbers surprise on the upside.

AUD/USD Review

  • RBA cut its economic and inflation growth forecasts. The Central Bank expects economic growth of 2.50%, down from its previous forecast of 3.25% while the inflation rate forecast slashed from 2.00% to 1.25%.
  • Australia’s AIG performance of construction index rose to a level of 43.1 in January (+0.5 prior month).
  • NAB business confidence index declined to a level of 1.0 in the Q4 of 2018, following a level of 3.0 in the preceding quarter.
  • AUD/USD worst weekly decline was at (-2.22%) since last October.

Looking Ahead

The pair came under renewed selling pressure after a rebound and added to this week's losses after the RBA offered a more balanced approach to rate moves and this erased all of the gains posted since early January. Meanwhile, resurfacing US-China trade tensions, coupled with the prevailing risk-off mood further drove flows away from the China-proxy/perceived riskier AUD. As long as the long-term bullish equities market remains in place, the downside potential will be limited in spite of a correction. The strong support levels for the week is between 0.7000 – 0.7050, where the pair has multiple daily lows, and resistance levels at the 0.715 – 0.725 zone.

NZD/USD Review

  • Disappointing employment data weighed on the NZD last week.
  • New Zealand 10-year government bond yield hits record low of 2.11%
  • Commodity sell-off hurt the kiwi on last Thursday

Looking Ahead

The RBNZ’s is likely to remain focused on the balance between two key risks: downside risk to growth and upside risk to inflation. It is expected to convey a neutral stance in the upcoming week. Near-term growth forecasts may be nudged a little lower, which would likely result in the RBNZ’s own projected increase in the interest rate being delayed into the future. The price fell and closed at 0.67432 for the week (∆-2.13%) after the dismal unemployment data release; a high rate of 4.3% vs. 4.0% rate recorded in the previous quarter.  Support level at 0.67 can be retested if unfavorable economic data is released this coming Wednesday. Conversely, the price may rebind to the previous high at 0.695 to the next resistance target at 0.705 level.

USD/CAD Review

  • Employment in Canada rose by 66.8K in January, after a revised 1.3K cut in the previous month and beating estimates of 8K.
  • The Ivey PMI for Canada fell to a level of 54.7% in January, marking its lowest level in four months and compared to a reading of 59.7% in the prior month and compared to forecast of 56.
  • The nation’s building permits unexpectedly advanced 6.0%, MoM
  • The barrel of WTI is trading in the negative territory near $52.50 ahead of the weekly Baker Hughes rig count data.
  • The US Dollar Index remains on track to close the 7th straight day in the positive territory.

Looking Ahead

In view of the US Dollar Index continuing its strong momentum upwards, the currency pair is anticipated to follow suit. However, a better than expected Canada's Jan housing and labor data may add to loonie's strength. Price is currently well supported by weekly trendline, and 1.305 is strong support level in the daily timeframe perspective.

USD/CHF Review

  • The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) reported that the unemployment rate in Switzerland remained at 2.4% on a monthly basis and aligned with market expectations.
  • Switzerland’s total sight deposits eased to a level of CHF576.3 billion in the week ended 01 February, from CHF576.7 billion in the previous week.
  • The US Dollar Index remains on track to snap a 7-day winning streak.

Looking Ahead

USD/CHF remains on course for further strength advance to the 1.004 which is the last defense before the 1.0128 November high. The pair broke above 0.999 zones and closed at 1.00001 previous week. On the flipside, 0.989 and 0.980 are favorable support levels to further its moves.

USD/JPY Review

  • Japan posted a trade surplus (BOP basis) of ¥216.2 billion in December, following a deficit of ¥559.1 billion in the prior month.
  • Japan’s flash leading index fell by -1.2 to a level of 97.9 in December as per market expectations compared to the prior month of 99.1.

Looking Ahead

As stated in the last overview report, the bull signal was formed and is waiting for a breakthrough of the 110 level. However, the JPY found demand and remained resilient against the dollar, despite the USD posting gains against most all of its primary rival currency last week. The prevalent risk-off mood also triggered a sharp decline in the US Treasury bond yields, which partly offset the advance of the USD and further contributed to the pair’s subdued/range-bound price action between 108 – 110. A clear direction is unlikely to unfold unless some breakthrough event act as a catalyst to stimulate momentum and price movement.

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