Risk currencies under pressure

Risk aversion continues to edge higher. This spells more bad news for risk/high beta currencies including many highly correlated currencies such as AUD, NZD and emerging market currencies.

Greece’s travails have come back to haunt markets and the inability to form a government puts at risk the whole bailout programme and possibly Greece’s ability to stay within the Eurozone. A failure to form a government will mean fresh elections in mid June and a delay in aid disbursements.

EUR/USD began the European session below the 1.30 level but I’m not convinced its heading much lower in the short term. The fact that the market is highly short (looking at the CFTC IMM data) means that positioning has already become very negative. Moreover, as in past months, there is plenty of inherent demand for EUR below this level. The better option is to play EUR weakness on the crosses.

UK economic news was soft overnight with the BRC retail sales survey plunging by 3.3%. GBP has acted as a semi safe haven against the background of the current Eurozone malaise but the data highlights that the job of the Bank of England is not particularly clear cut. No action is expected at tomorrow’s policy meeting leaving GBP reasonably well supported.

Safe haven currencies remain favoured, leaving the likes of the USD, JPY and CHF well supported. My quant models point to more short term downside for USD/JPY with a further decline below 80 remaining in place. One other currency that looks relatively attractive is the CAD. Relatively favourable fundamentals highlight the potential for CAD outperformance on the crosses

AUD downside remains intact and a drop below parity with the USD looms. A relatively austere budget after Prime Minister Gillard dropped a corporate tax cut has opened the door to potentially bigger easing from the RBA. While a lot of easing is already priced in the market will react by pricing in more cuts. Moreover, with a likely soft jobs report expected tomorrow and AUD’s susceptibility to risk aversion it all spells more weakness for AUD.

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