It seemed inevitable and finally after flirting with the 1.50 level, EUR/USD managed to break through although there seems to be little momentum in the move, with the currency pair dipping back below 1.50 in the Asian trading session. Contrary to expectations the break above 1.50 did not lead to a sharp stop loss driven move higher.
Even the break through 1.50 only provoked a limited reaction in the FX options market where implied EUR/USD volatility only moved slightly higher. In fact despite the warnings by ECB President Trichet about “excessive currency volatility” FX options volatility for most currency pairs has been on a downward trajectory over the past few months, implying that the move in EUR/USD and the USD itself has been quite orderly.
Trichet’s warning is more likely a veiled threat on the level of EUR/USD rather than its volatility, unless of course the ECB chief is seeing something that the FX options market is not. Assuming that EUR/USD closes above 1.50 this week it technically has plenty of open ground on the run up to the record high of 1.6038 hit in July 2008 but there will also be plenty of official resistance to limit its appreciation. Such resistance is limited to rhetoric but it will not be long before markets begin discussing the prospects of actual FX intervention.
Perhaps the reason that EUR/USD did not move sharply higher following the break of 1.50 was the late sell off in US stocks on Wednesday which helped to fuel some USD short covering. The USD index is holding just above the 75.00 level but it’s not a big stretch from here to move down to the March 2008 low around 70.698, with the overall tone of broad USD weakness remaining intact and ongoing.
GBP was helped by relief that the minutes of the BoE meeting showed no inclination to increase the level of quantitative easing despite the ongoing debate within the MPC. The minutes even sounded slightly upbeat about economic prospects. GBP/USD hit a high of 1.6638 in the wake of these developments due in large part to more short covering whilst EUR/GBP briefly dipped below 0.90. GBP/USD may find it tough going to make much headway above 1.66 as has been the case over recent months, with strong resistance seen around 1.6661.