US dollar on the front foot

Worries about earnings have resulted in a lacklustre performance for equity markets and a gradual increase in risk aversion over recent days. Nonetheless, economic data especially in the US continues to be encouraging as revealed by a spate of recent releases culminating in the October US jobs report which revealed a 171k increase in payrolls and upward revisions to previous months. Although the unemployment rate ticked higher to 7.9%, the trend is one of gradual but unspectacular improvement.

This has provided some support to the USD but notably US bond yields have not reacted much, leaving the USD a little vulnerable to any slippage. Commodity prices continue to be pressured, with a firmer USD and better US data fuelling further downside. The trend is set to continue over coming days especially if the data releases result in reduced expectations for more US quantitative easing.

The USD is likely to remain firm benefitting from weaker economic data elsewhere and a lack of progress with regard to Greece and Spain. Missed debt and deficit targets in Greece highlight the tough task ahead although Greek officials appear to be hopeful that they will receive the votes needed in votes on Wednesday and Sunday to pass reforms and budget cuts demanded by lenders.

This week there will of course be plenty of attention on US elections and various permutations of the outcome and its impact on markets. Polls show that the Presidential race is too close to call although the House and Senate races look like delivering the status quo. The worst case scenario for markets is for a prolonged period of uncertainty if the results produce no clear cut result which could ultimately undermine the USD.

Aside from the elections central bank decisions from the European Central Bank, Bank of England and Reserve Bank of Australia will also garner attention. While an unchanged outcome from the ECB is likely, both the BoE and RBA are set to ease policy further, the former in the form of a GBP 25 billion increase in quantitative easing and the latter with a 25bps policy rate cut. In Europe, the 8 November Eurogroup meeting will also be in focus as officials discuss progress on Greece’s next loan tranche.

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