ECB In Focus

The highlight today is the European Central Bank (ECB) council meeting. Markets have priced in a hawkish stance from the ECB; Euro rates have edged higher whilst EUR/USD has strengthened. The ECB is likely to highlight worries about price developments today paving way for a hike in H2 2011. Watch for any shift in the balance of risks statement in the press conference and upward revisions to inflation and growth forecasts. In terms of liquidity operations the full allotment procedures at the Main Refinancing Operations (MRO) are likely to be extended for another three months.

EUR risks are asymmetric and whilst the currency remains a buy on dips (with technical indicators pointing to a move to 1.4000) the bigger risk is if the ECB does not live up to the hawkish market expectations which could hit EUR given long positioning overhang. Other than this, risk aversion remains elevated according to my barometer, supporting JPY and CHF. US numbers remain upbeat as seen in the ADP private sector jobs report yesterday, which will likely lead to an upward revision to non-farm payrolls forecasts in February (currency consensus 195k). However, the USD impact of positive data is limited against the background of a relatively dovish Fed stance.

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