Since the start of the year the market has gyrated from “risk on” to “risk off” and back again. On balance the overall tone has been just about positive, with firmer economic data, most notably in China outweighing sovereign debt concerns in Greece and elsewhere. Although debt concerns are unlikely to dissipate quickly, especially given Greece’s inability to convince markets of its plans to cut its burgeoning budget deficit, the “risk on” tone is likely to win.
“Risk off” may be the tone at the start of the week however, as US equities ended the week on a negative note ahead of the Martin Luther King holidays. The holidays will likely keep trading slow. Data wise the main US events housing starts on Wednesday and the Philly Fed on Thursday. Q4 US earnings are likely to take a bigger share of market attention as the earnings season rolls on. Bank earnings will be a key focus, with Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, BoA, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs set to report this week.
Given the growing influence of Chinese data on markets the monthly data pack from China will capture more attention than usual on Thursday. In particular, GDP and inflation data will be of most interest. GDP data is likely to reveal an acceleration in growth in Q4 YoY to above 10% but given worries about over heating and following last week’s tightening in China’s monetary policy CPI data will be closely scrutinized. Inflation is likely to pick up further maintaining the pressure for further monetary tightening as well as a stronger CNY.
Elsewhere, in the eurozone the main event is the German ZEW survey tomorrow, which is likely to show further signs of flagging, due to Greek concerns. There is also an interest rate decision to contend with; the Bank of Canada is unlikely to surprise markets as it keeps policy unchanged tomorrow. The UK has a relatively heavier data slate, with CPI tomorrow, Bank of England minutes on Wednesday and retail sales at the end of the week.
The UK data kicked off on a positive note this week, with house prices rising 0.4% MoM in January and 4.1% YoY according to UK property website Rightmove, the biggest annual gain in over a year. Moreover, activity on Rightmove’s website reached a record high in the first full week of the year. The data as well as expectations that Kraft will raise its bid for Cadbury will likely help GBP in addition to other GBP positive M&A news. GBP/USD will look to test resistance around 1.6365 this week.
After a slightly firmer start helped by the weak close to US equity markets on Friday the USD is likely to generally trade on the back foot over the week. Speculative sentiment for the USD has definitely soured into the new-year as reflected in the CFTC IMM data which revealed a big jump in net short positions in the week ending 12 January 2010. Net aggregate USD positions shifted from +1.6k to -51.9k over the week, with the main beneficiaries being the EUR, and risk trades including AUD, NZD and CAD.