Risk appetite firms

Risk appetite is slightly firmer at the end of the week.  US data failed to deliver much guidance on Thursday following a better than forecast trade deficit but disappointment on jobless claims. US retail sales came in better than expected on Friday, rising 1.3% and 1.2% ex-autos, likely helping the firmer tone to risk appetite.  This followed the release of a set of positive data releases in China on Friday revealing that the recovery in the country remains strong.

Fiscal concerns, especially in Europe continue to linger like a bad smell maintaining a degree of caution for markets and capping the EUR, with strong technical resistance seen around the November 20 low of 1.4794.   On this note GBP could struggle given the growing criticism of the pre-budget report on Wednesday.   However, worries about a ratings  downgrade have eased somewhat following comments from Moody’s that there was no threat to UK or US ratings for now, which has given GBP some likely short-lived breathing room.

I still favour AUD and NZD and out of the two NZD looks the better, especially given further likely unwinding of long AUD/NZD positions into year-end.  Markets will continue to ignore jawboning by RBNZ governor attempting to talk down the kiwi and focus on the shift in rhetoric following the RBNZ meeting pointing to an earlier rate hike than previously indicated.    However, the sharp drop in AUD/NZD over recent days has brought the currency cross back in line with my regression model estimates, which suggests that much of the pull back has already taken place.  The JPY is the main casualty of the improving trend in risk appetite edging back towards the 90.0 level.

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