Euro capped ahead of ECB meeting

Having failed to get above the 1.2650 barrier EUR/USD looks restrained going into today’s European Central Bank (ECB) meeting. Reports overnight of a great ‘plan’ to buy bonds up to 3 years in unlimited size in sterilised fashion, helped provide some support to the currency but further gains will be limited. The ECB has already let the cat out of the bag and FX markets are quite correct to go into the ECB meeting with a dose of caution.

How will the EUR react? Given that much of what the ECB will do today has already been leaked the scope for positive surprises is limited, suggesting any upside for EUR will be capped although comments on yield targets (if any), conditionality, and the seniority issue will be important.

Profit taking, lowered expectations over recent days and uncertainty ahead of the US jobs report tomorrow will limit the damage to the currency, however. A drop to support around 1.2431 is the most that can be expected in the short term.

Unlike a likely rate cut from the ECB the Bank of England (BoE) is set to stay pat having embarked on further asset purchases in July. Weaker growth and upside inflation risk do not make for an enviable concoction. Although I anticipate further asset purchases later in the year, further action today is unlikely. This will mean that EUR/GBP in particular will lack independent direction and continue to track moves in EUR/USD (very strong sensitivity over the last 3-months). Given the potential for some further short term slippage in EUR/USD, EUR/GBP will likely follow suit.

As for GBP/USD it will struggle to sustain a break above this week’s high of 1.5935 unless US payrolls data tomorrow disappoints. Long speculative positioning means that GBP is vulnerable to profit taking especially having strengthened by over 3% since the beginning of June. The 28 August low around 1.5754 will provide near term support.

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