Euro weaker despite hawkish ECB

The bounce in EUR/USD following the European Central Bank (ECB) press statement following its unchanged rate decision proved short-lived with the currency dropping sharply as longs were quickly unwound, with EUR/USD hitting a low around 1.4478. The sell off occurred despite the fact that the ECB delivered on expectations that it would flag a July rate hike, with the insertion of “strong vigilance” in the press statement.

The reaction was a classic ‘buy on rumour, sell on fact’ outcome and highlights just how long EUR the market was ahead of the ECB meeting. Interestingly the interest rate differential (2nd futures contract) has not widened versus the USD despite the hawkish ECB message and in any case interest rate differentials are not driving EUR/USD at present as reflected in low correlations.

This leaves the EUR susceptible to Greek developments and the news on this front is less positive. ECB President Trichet ruled out any direct participation (ie no rollover of ECB Greek debt holdings) in a second Greek bailout whilst potentially accepting a plan of voluntary private participation in any debt rollover. The ECB’s stance is at odds with that put forward by German Finance Minister Schaeuble pressuring investors to accept longer maturities on their Greek debt holdings.

In contrast the USD appears to be finding growing relief from the fact that the Federal Reserve is putting up a high hurdle before QE3 is considered. As highlighted by Fed Chairman Bernanke earlier this week the Fed is not considering QE3 despite a spate of weak US data. This was echoed overnight by the Fed’s Lockhart and Plosser, with the former noting that there would need to be a substantially weaker economy and the latter noting that there would have to be a “pretty extraordinary” deterioration in the economy to support QE3.

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