Political pressures afflicts the euro

I’m in Dubai today presenting at a client seminar so am a little late on my blog post today. There is definitely lots going on however and all the talk is about politics. The mood is decidedly downbeat following the elections in France and Greece over the weekend. Risk assets have tanked while the USD looks firm except versus JPY. The elections over the weekend clearly dealt a blow to advocates of austerity resulting in a major increase in policy uncertainty.

Following the weaker the forecast US jobs report at the end of last week data over coming days will be less influential on the USD. In general I expect the USD to edge higher, helped by a decidedly more nervous market tone and higher risk aversion. The main interest for FX markets on the data front will be the April NFIB Small Business Optimism survey, March trade data and May Michigan confidence at the end of the week.

Although not a particular driver for the USD, the dip in the NFIB survey in March provoked concerns about the pace of US recovery and potential downturn in growth. This has been echoed in other data, which in turn has kept the door open to more Fed action restraining the USD in the meantime.

The ECB failed to rattle the EUR’s cage following its policy meeting last week although the lack of a dovish tone did help the EUR to rally briefly. We believe the market reacted prematurely and if anything the ECB may be setting the scene for a rate cut in June. Weak data has helped to undermine the EUR and I expect little or no improvement over coming days. Given that Germany has also succumbed to some weakness, the March German industrial production report will be monitored with interest on Tuesday.

The main driver for the EUR over coming days will be politics rather than the ECB or economic data however, with markets digesting the outcomes of the second round of the French Presidential election and Greek elections as well as the poor result for Chancellor Merkel in German state elections. Against this background and facing a bearish technical picture EUR/USD will struggle to recover, with 1.3060 providing a new resistance level.

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