Key events for FX markets this week

Key events this week include the Fed FOMC and G20 meetings .  The G20 meeting is likely to be a non-event as far as markets are concerned.  There will be plenty of discussion about co-ordinating exit strategies but officials are set to repeat the commitment to maintain stimulus policies until recovery proves sustainable.  

There is likely to be little emphasis on currencies despite the fact that the dollar is trading around its lowest level in a year, except perhaps at the fringes of the meeting, with focus in particular on Japan’s new government’s pro yen policy.  

Regulation will also figure high amongst the topics debated but this will have little impact on markets over the short term.  Another topic that could be debated is protectionism, especially in light of the US decision to impose tariffs on Chinese tyres.

Ahead of the G20 meeting the Fed FOMC meeting is unlikely to result in any change in interest rates but the statement is likely to be cautiously upbeat in line with Fed Chairman Bernanke’s recent comments that the recession is “very likely over”.  The statement will be scrutinised for clues to the timing of policy reversal, especially given recent speculation that a couple of FOMC members were advocating an early exit.  Given that the dollar has suffered due to its funding currency appeal, any hint that some Fed officials are turning more hawkish could give the currency some much needed relief but we doubt this will last long. 

In contrast to speculation of a hawkish shift in thinking by some Fed members the Bank of England appears to be moving in the opposite direction.  The MPC minutes on Wednesday will be viewed to determine just how close the BoE was to extending quantitative easing and reducing interest rates on bank reserves at its last meeting. 

Sterling (GBP) has been a clear underperformer over recent weeks and a dovish tint to the minutes will act as another factor weighing on the currency as speculation over further action intensifies ahead of the next meeting.  

Sterling is also struggling against the euro having hit a five month low.  A combination of factors have hit the currency including concerns about quantitative easing expansion, the health of the banking system, and the latest blow coming from a the Bank of England in its Quarterly Bulletin where it states that GBP’s long run sustainable exchange rate may have fallen due to the financial crisis.   

Against this background it is not surprising that sterling was the only major currency against in which speculative positioning actually deteriorated versus the dollar last week (according to the latest CFTC Commitment of Traders report).   It is difficult to see any sterling recovery over the short term against this background, with a re-test of the 9 July low just under GBP/USD 1.60 in focus.

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