EUR to struggle to extend gains

Once again the USD index failed to break above its 100-day moving average, its third failure to do so over recent weeks. The USD is now trading below its 20- and 50- day moving averages and looks vulnerable to further weakness. However, much will depend on the travails of the EUR and how quickly the boost to this currency fades following last week’s Greek austerity plan approval.

The USD was helped last week by the relative move higher in US bond yields, which saw 2-year yield differentials between the Eurozone and US drop below 100bps for the first time since the beginning of April. Given that the six-month correlation between 2-year bond yield differentials and EUR/USD is at a very high level, it is reasonable to assume that this will remain an important factor driving the currency pair going forward.

The yield differential narrowing seen last week has reversed as German yields have moved sharply higher this week, however. This is in large part attributed to more positive developments in Greece but nonetheless, it has helped to push the EUR higher.

Ratings agencies may yet spoil the party for the EUR, with S&P’s warning that Greece’s debt rollover plans may put the country’s ratings into select default, fuelling some caution. Should ratings agencies downgrade Greek debt to junk it will not only be international investors that will re-think their exposure to the country but the European Central Bank (ECB) could also stop holding Greek debt as collateral for loans although an official from the Bank noted that this would happen only if all the major ratings agencies downgrade Greek debt to default.

Attention is now turning to the implementation risks of austerity measures and asset sales. While Greece’s contribution to eurozone GDP is small, the pain of implanting more budget cuts will push the economy deeper into recession and reveal the stark divergences in growth in the eurozone at a time when the ECB is hiking interest rates.

In reaction to such concerns there is likely to be a series of measures announced over coming days and weeks to boost growth according to Greece’s finance minister. As the S&P comments and implementation/growth concerns suggest, the EUR may struggle to extend gains, especially as the currency is looking increasingly stretched at current levels, with this week’s ECB rate hike largely in the price. Top side resistance for EUR/USD is seen around 1.4598.

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