Spain downgraded

Pressure on Spain has intensified in the wake of a two notch downgrade to the country’s debt to just one notch above junk at BBB-. S&P cited “the significant risks to Spain’s economic growth and budgetary performance, and the lack of a clear direction in euro-zone policy”. The slow progress towards a sovereign bailout for Spain will have likely played a role in the decision, a factor that is also weighing on general market sentiment. The debt downgrade may on the margin increase the pressure on the Spanish government to request a formal bailout.

Nonetheless, risk assets including peripheral Eurozone bonds do not appear particularly stressed although it may only be a matter of time before pressure escalates. Italian bond supply today may give some further direction on this front. US Q3 earnings will have some bearing on sentiment too as concerns have grown that they will disappoint. With little on the data front (highlights include Eurozone country September inflation and US trade data) attention will focus on comments from the IMF meetings against the background of growing global growth worries.

Against this background the EUR is likely to continue to drift lower, with the currency set to test support just under the 1.2800 level AUD will have got a boost from the relatively positive September jobs report released this morning, which revealed a 14.5k increase in employment. The positive impact may slightly be mitigated by a rise in the unemployment rate to 5.4% from 5.3%, which also gives further evidence supporting the RBA’s recent rate cut. The data will at least help to alleviate some of the concerns about the jobs market following last month’s surprise drop in employment. My preference is to play AUD via going long positions versus EUR.

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