EUR jumps on Spanish news, but Greek risks ahead

Spain’s request for a EUR 100 billion bailout for its banks has significantly shifted the bias for markets this week, with risk assets buoyed and safe haven assets pressured. The fact that Spain will receive a bailout ‘light’ in terms of the conditions of the loan, will also have come as good news as the stringent measures associated with bailouts of Greece, Portugal and Ireland, will be avoided. Taken together with mixed (but less bad than feared) Chinese data over the weekend, the scene is set for markets to rally early in the week.

However, plenty of event risk remains, not least of which is the outcome of Greek elections at the weekend and results of French parliamentary elections today, which could easily reverse the positive mood of markets.

The USD has continued to head lower a trend that has been established since the end of May, with its drop set to accelerate at the start of the week following news of Spain’s banking bailout and the subsequent bounce in risk assets.

Although Fed Chairman Bernanke provided some relief for the USD last week by not indicating a desire to embark on fresh quantitative easing, the reality is that US data has been disappointing of late, keeping the door open to such action, restaining the USD.

More damaging to the USD is the bounce in risk appetite even before the Spanish news. Softer US data this expected week including likely sluggish May retail sales, a small increase in industrial production and lower manufacturing and consumer confidence surveys, will keep the debate on QE firmly open, leaving the USD struggling in the days ahead.

EUR/USD lurched higher following Spain banking bailout request. However, the sum of EUR 100 billion is far higher than the EUR 40 billion anticipated and could add around 20% to Spain’s sovereign debt. While the size of the package is significant it is also worrying, a fact that could come back and haunt the EUR.

Undoubtedly the upside in EUR is being helped by the fact that speculative positioning reached a fresh record low last week (according to the CFTC IMM data) leaving plenty of scope for short covering. In the near term EUR/USD will remain buoyed but any gains will be restricted to technical resistance around the EUR/USD 1.2690 level where sellers will emerge, especially given uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Greek elections.

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