Risk trade rally fizzles out

The risk trade rally spurred by China’s decision to de-peg the CNY fizzled out. The realization that China will only move very gradually on the CNY brought a dose of reality back to markets after the initial euphoria. The fact that unlike in July 2005 China ruled out a one off revaluation adds support to the view that China will move cautiously ahead with CNY reform. In addition, renewed economic worries have crept back in, with particular attention on a potential double dip in the US housing market following a surprise 2% drop in existing home sales in May.

European banking sector woes have not disappeared either with S&P raising the estimate of writedowns on Spanish bank losses, whilst Fitch ratings agency noted that there is an increased chance of the eurozone suffering a double-dip recession. The net impact of all of these factors is to dampen risk appetite and the EUR in particular.

The UK’s announcement of strong belt tightening measures in its emergency budget did not fall far outside of market expectations. The budget outlined a 5-year plan of deficit reduction, from 11% of GDP in 2009-10 to 2.1% of GDP in 2014-15. The main imponderable was the response of ratings agency and so far it appears to have been sufficient not to warrant a downgrade of the UK’s credit ratings. Fitch noted that the “ambitious” plan ensured that the UK would keep its AAA credit rating. The emergency budget and reaction to it has been mildly positive for GBP, which has shown some resilience despite the pull back in risk currencies.

The recent rally in Asian currencies is looking somewhat overdone but direction will come from gyrations in risk appetite and the CNY rather than domestic data or events. Encouragingly equity capital flows into Asia have picked up again over recent weeks, with most countries with the exception of the Philippines registering capital inflows so far this month, led by India and South Korea.

China’s CNY move may attract more capital inflows into the region, suggesting that equity capital flows will continue to strengthen unless there is a relapse in terms of sovereign debt/fiscal concerns in Europe. Nonetheless, central banks in the region will continue to resist strong FX gains via FX interventions, preventing a rapid strengthening in local currencies.

Although India and Korea have registered the most equity inflows this month, both the INR and KRW have had a low correlation with local equity market performance over recent weeks. In fact the most highly sensitive currencies to their respective equity market performance have been the MYR and IDR both of which have reversed some of their gains from yesterday. USD/MYR will likely struggle to break below its 26th April low around 3.1825 whilst USD/IDR will find a break below 9000 a tough nut to crack.

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