ECB, BoE and RBA in the spotlight

Double-dip fears are the pervading influence on market psychology at present even as European sovereign concerns appear to be easing. Friday’s release of the June US jobs report did little to alleviate such concerns but the headline payrolls number was less negative than the indications provided by other jobs data.

Growth fears have in particular been centred on the US in the wake of a run of disappointing data, These new found concerns have somewhat tarnished the USD’s ability to benefit from safe haven buying as risk aversion increases, as reflected in the 4.5% drop in the USD index since its high on 7th June. The prospects for the USD do not look too much better this week, but the drop is more likely a correction rather than a renewed weakening trend.

Having navigated its way through the European Central Bank’s (ECB) 12-month liquidity payback, various debt auctions, and Germany’s presidential election last week the EUR may find itself with less obstruction in its path but will nonetheless, likely struggle to make much headway this week. EUR speculative positioning, as indicated by the CFTC IMM data, reveals that there has been little short covering over the last couple of weeks, suggesting speculative sentiment remains negative.

Nonetheless, the rebound in EUR/USD has been impressive since its low around 1.1876 about a month ago and not just against the USD, with EUR making up ground on various crosses too including CHF and GBP. Easing sovereign concerns will have helped but there are plenty of downside risks ahead as austerity measures begin to bite and growth divergence becomes more apparent.

The ECB council meeting on Thursday is unlikely to give much direction for the EUR, with the meeting likely to pass with an unchanged rate decision and no change in economic assessment. There will be more attention on whether EUR/USD can maintain a toe hold above the psychologically important 1.2500 level, which I suspect may prove tough to hold this week.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) also announces its rate decision (Tuesday) and will likely pause in tightening cycle. Recent data have remained positive, especially with regard to the labour market. The RBA will wait for the Q2 CPI data on July 28th before deciding on the next policy move, with jobs data on Thursday also likely to provide further clues. AUD/USD may struggle in the current environment where growth worries are prevalent, and the currency is likely to find it tough going over the coming weeks.

Finally, the Bank of England (BoE) meets this week too but like the ECB and RBA no change is likely. Although we will have to wait a couple of weeks for the minutes of the meeting it seems highly unlikely that MPC members will vote for a hike aside from Sentance who has espoused a more hawkish stance. Notably GBP speculative short positions have been scaled back over recent weeks as sentiment for the currency turns less negative but GBP gains against the USD will be more limited this week, with renewed GBP upside against the EUR more likely.

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