Australian and NZ Dollar Outperform

The boost to EUR following the dovish tone of the Fed FOMC statement on Wednesday has faded although the EUR looks well supported against the USD, JPY and GBP. Further gains against the USD will however, be limited to around 1.3201 (21 December 2011 high and 61.8% retracement from its 1.3553 high).

Reports overnight that Greek private lenders were willing to accept a coupon rate below 4% helped to boost confidence of an imminent deal with regard to Greek debt restructruing. Ahead of next week’s EU Summit the EUR will consolidate its gains, with attention focussing on a meeting between German Chancellor Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Monti, and French President Sarkozy on Monday.

USD/JPY has become insensitive to moves in most of its usual drivers. Bond yield differentials have lost influence over recent months despite a very strong relationship in the past. Similarly USD/JPY is also not particularly sensitive to moves in the USD index or risk aversion, with these relationships also breaking down lately according to my correlation calculations. Net foreign portfolio flows should in theory be playing negative for the JPY with outflows from bond and equity flows recorded in 8 of the last 10 weeks.

However, the reality is that USD/JPY remains stubbornly entrenched in a narrow 77-78 range. While a base appears to have been formed around the 77.00 level the upside momentum for the currency pair is weak. I stand by my view of USD/JPY ending the quarter around current levels given the loss of influence of its usual drivers but still look for an eventual move higher.

AUD and NZD have performed extremely well over recent weeks recording the biggest gains among major currencies so far this year. Both currencies have been boosted by improving risk appetite and receding growth worries in China. AUD in particular looks attractive in the wake of the dovish Fed and relative high AUD yield. I continue to believe markets are too dovish on Australian policy rate expectations, with markets pricing in more rate cuts this year beginning in February. Any reversal in easing expectations will support AUD.

AUD is also benefiting from diversification flows, with Russia’s central bank noting that it may begin to buy AUD in February. Nonetheless, AUD/USD gains look overly aggressive in a short space of time, with positioning turning increasingly long. AUD/USD will face strong resistance around 1.0753 over coming days.


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