Two events over recent days have managed to inflict a degree of pain to USD bulls over recent days. Firstly the report in the press this week that the Fed is actively considering further policy stimulus steps, which taken together with softer economic data such as the 8.4% drop in new home sales registered in June but more specifically declines in the June ISM manufacturing survey and weaker jobs data, have sharply increased the speculation that the Fed will deliver new policy steps at its FOMC meeting next week.
Secondly the comments overnight from ECB board member Nowotny putting the prospects of giving the ESM bailout fund a banking licence firmly back on the table, has given a lift to the EUR. A banking licence would allow the ESM to leverage the ECB’s balance sheet, massively increasing its firepower. No wonder the markets reacted positively! The only catch is that there is significant opposition from both within the ECB council and from outside especially from Germany, suggesting that it would not be an easy step to take.
However, in a market that is extremely short EUR any slight positive news will act as a balm on the Eurozone’s wounds. Nowotny’s comments managed to overpower the impact of further drop in the German IFO survey in July which in fairness still remains at a relatively high level. The positive impact on the EUR is set to be short lived especially as a license for the ESM is a long way off while the ESM itself has yet to formally take over from the temporary bailout fund (EFSF).
Nonetheless, downside risks to the EUR will be limited ahead of the FOMC meeting next week and risks that a fresh round of Fed quantitative easing could weigh on the USD. Another complication is that there is also an ECB Council meeting next week, another factor that will play into a tone of consolidation for markets over coming days. EUR/USD is likely to face firm resistance around the 1.2181 level while downside is likely to be capped around 1.2040 in the near term. Assuming no major Fed action next week, EUR/USD remained destined for a drop below 1.2000.