USD undermined by data, Gold under pressure

Risk measures remain generally well supported, with markets remaining fairly resilient to Eurozone concerns as the European Central Bank (ECB) OMT threat continues to do its work to deflate tail risks. Even the EUR continues to sit stubbornly around 1.31 versus USD while Eurozone peripheral bonds remain supported.

The Eurogroup and Ecofin announcement of an extension of Irish and Portuguese loans and the revelation that Cyprus will need even more funds than previous estimates (EUR 23 billion compared to EUR 17.5 billion previously) has been taken in its stride by markets. Eurozone inflation and the April German ZEW investor confidence survey will be the highlights of the calendar in the region this week although neither should dent the generally supportive tone.

Firm risk appetite is contributing to some of the pressure on commodity prices, with the CRB commodities index losing further ground as precious metals slide. Gold prices have now entered a bear market given the more than 20% fall since September 2011 as ETF and speculative investors continue to exit. There is little sign that investors are about to let up the selling pressure, with the trend continuing to be lower.

Data releases this week in the US will be of particular focus to determine whether the economy is entering into renewed downward lurch or is facing a mere blip along the way to recovery. Indeed, the recent run of softer data including weaker than expected March retail sales and April consumer confidence data released at the end of last week have reinforced growth concerns while supporting US Treasuries and undermining the USD.

The Fed’s Beige Book will help give some indication of how growth is faring across the US while industrial production and housing starts ought to show some gains. Q1 13 earnings reports will also be in focus. The weakness in US data over recent weeks is likely to be merely a blip on the path to recovery but nonetheless the impact of the Sequester may be accentuating the softening in the growth indicators.

Elsewhere Japanese FX policy will come under scrutiny at the G20 meeting this week, with officials likely to press Japan to refrain from competitive currency devaluation echoing the message from the US Treasury’s semi-annual currency report to Congress at the end of last week. USD/JPY has lost some upside momentum as a result and is set to slip further, with support seen around 96.71.

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