FX volatility declining, AUD still vulnerable

FX options appear to be increasingly comfortable with the current lack of movement in currencies. For example, 3-month EUR/USD implied volatility has dropped to multi-year lows while my measure of G3 implied volatility has been at very low levels over recent months.

This has corresponded with the drop in risk aversion as market fears over US growth and Eurozone debt issues recede. Over the short term there appears to be little to jolt markets out of their stupor and if anything EUR/USD is likely to continue to drift higher according to our short term quantitative models.

Indeed, firmer risk appetite, despite the odd hiccup, plays positively for the EUR while the pull back in US bond yields has restrained the USD. The Ecofin meeting beginning tomorrow will likely give further support to the EUR, if as expected, ministers bolster the Eurozone ‘firewall’.

It has been a one step forwards, two steps back motion for AUD/USD over recent weeks as it continues to edge lower. Although US bond yields have pulled back Australian yields have pulled back relatively more, reducing Australia’s yield advantage and weighing on the AUD in the process.

Over recent weeks speculative AUD positioning has also fallen, reflecting deteriorating sentiment for the currency, but the fact that the market is still long suggests scope for further short term downside.

Aside from yield differentials most of the usual correlations with AUD have broken down suggesting that the AUD is getting a dose of independent weakness. However, China news remains a key focal point for AUD and the decline in the Shanghai composite stock index has become an interesting lead indicator for AUD performance. Over the near term AUD will likely continue to weaken in jagged steps.

Dear readers please note that there will be very limited updates of econometer.org over the next couple of weeks due to my Easter vacation.

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