Despite some positive US data, with both the May ISM manufacturing index and April construction spending coming in stronger than forecast, market sentiment soured. The relative calm that was exhibited at the end of May is giving way to renewed fears as equity markets weaken, volatility increases and risk aversion intensifies. Risk trades are set to remain on the back foot, with the EUR likely to remain the weakest link. After testing support close to 1.2110 EUR/USD bounced but remains vulnerable to a fresh test of this level in the short-term.
A combination of concerns including rumours of ratings downgrades, with France the new target, Middle East tensions, weaker Chinese manufacturing activity and worries about increasing bank writedowns in Europe, have conspired to drag markets lower. The failure to stem the hue oil-leak in the US contributed to the malaise as the US government announced a criminal probe.
For the most part, data releases were unhelpful to risk appetite as the majority of global purchasing managers indices (PMIs) slipped in May, led by China. Only a few increased, including India and notably Ireland, whilst the Spanish and Greek PMIs fell. Although the US ISM index slipped the components looked positive, especially the employment component which moved higher, suggesting some upside potential for Friday’s May payrolls data for which we look for a 500k increase.
A picture of divergence appears to be growing in the eurozone, which will act as another source of pressure on the EUR. Germany’s outperformance is widening as reflected by the fact the German unemployment dropped to 7.7% in May in contrast to a rise in eurozone unemployment, to 10.1%. Moreover, Germany was the only country where its PMI was actually revised higher relative to the flash reading. There are also growing divisions within the European Central Bank (ECB), in particular towards the purchase of government bonds, with German ECB members particularly critical.