Daily FX Market Roundup 02.14.20
By Kathy Lien, Managing Director Of FX Strategy For BK Asset Management
February has been a great month for the U.S. dollar and U.S. stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to record highs and even as stocks pulled back toward the end of the week, the declines were modest, given recent gains. Most importantly, we have not seen days of back-to-back triple-digit declines, which would be the first sign of sustainable risk aversion. The coronavirus makes central bankers, investors, businesses and every-day citizens nervous but investors have been able to look past the virus’ impact.
The USD is king because coronavirus helps the greenback – it shines a light on the country’s resilience and draws in safe-haven demand. While U.S. data has been mediocre, we haven’t seen extensive deterioration and that alone has been enough to reassure investors that while not immune to China’s troubles, the U.S. economy will outperform. Retail sales rose 0.3% in January, which was right in line with expectations. Ex autos, spending growth slowed to 0.3% from 0.6% but this was also in line. The University of Michigan Sentiment Index was stronger than expected despite all of the virus concerns.
Next week the main focus for the dollar will be the Fed. A number of Federal Reserve presidents are scheduled to speak and the FOMC minutes are due for release. On Thursday, the Federal Reserve announced that starting next week, it will be reducing the amount of repos offered. This was in response to the last 3 operations, which were oversubscribed as banks seek out cheap funding and this is positive for the dollar because it reduces the availability of cheap money. Looking ahead, we expect U.S. policymakers to downplay the virus impact in the same manner as the markets. Housing and manufacturing numbers are on the calendar and they are not expected to pose a threat to the dollar’s rally. So to answer our own question, the grenback could extend its gain in the week ahead but it's also important to realize that the greenback had a strong move in the first 2 weeks of February so a correction within a broader uptrend is also likely.
While there are very few market-moving releases from the U.S., the Eurozone, UK, Japan, Australia and Canada have a number of key reports due for release. From the Eurozone, we have the German ZEW survey and PMI reports on the calendar. As we noted Thursday, EZ data has taken a turn for the worse and the PMIs are expected to show ongoing weakness. With that said, it’s a pretty big deal that Germany’s economy grew over the last 2 quarters amidst concerns for recession and negative growth. UK retail sales, CPI and PMIs are due for release along with Q4 GDP from Japan, employment numbers from Australia, retail sales and CPI from Canada. We are looking for job growth to slow in Australia but given the Bank of Canada’s confidence, retail sales and inflation could be hotter.