EUR upside limited, JPY bears frustrated, AUD capped

Risk assets continue to rally spurred by hopes / expectations of ongoing (Federal Reserve) and additional (European Central Bank) monetary stimulus, the formation of a new government in Italy (however unstable it may turn out to be) and a better than expected outcome for US March pending home sales, bucking the trend of disappointing US data over recent weeks.

Consequently commodity prices have rallied helped by industrial and precious metals while the USD has come under sustained selling pressure. Ahead of the major events over coming days (ECB and Fed meetings, non farm payrolls) the positive risk tone is unlikely to change although US consumer and business confidence measures will be scrutinised to determine whether how sentiment is holding post sequester.

Market relief following the formation of a new government in Italy was evident in the positive reception to Italy’s bond auction yesterday. Although this was no big surprise, it highlights the ongoing power of the ECB’s OMT threat and the calming influence it is has had on peripheral bonds and the EUR.

Even so, a likely policy rate cut by the ECB and potential hints at future non conventional easing will be sufficient to prevent the EUR from capitalizing much on the generally softer USD tone this week. Additionally as revealed in the weaker than expected Eurozone April sentiment indicators yesterday the fundamental argument for both lower policy rates and a weaker EUR remains compelling. In the near term EUR/USD will remain supported above 1.2985, but renewed downward momentum is not far off.

Lower relative US yields continue to undermine USD/JPY. Until the yield differential (in particular 10 year US Treasury vs. Japanese JGBs) widens it is difficult to see USD/JPY regaining sufficient momentum to break the 100 level. The speculative market is clearly geared up for a weaker JPY as reflected in the CFTC IMM positioning data revealing a hefty short JPY position, but if anything this may frustrate any move lower in JPY in the near term.

Nonetheless, the rebound in the JPY recently is likely to prove temporary. Although last week’s unchanged policy decision from the Bank of Japan was largely expected, the gap between current CPI and the BoJ’s 2% target is widening, implying further easing and in turn JPY weakness in the pipeline.

AUD has managed a firm early week bounce but can it be sustained? There is a limited and second tier flow of Australian data over coming days and some caution ahead of China’s official April purchasing manager’s index which may limit the ability of the AUD to make much headway over coming days. Nonetheless, market positioning in AUD looks much healthier (ie less room to cut longs) while the drop in the USD index bodes well for AUD. AUD/USD will be capped around 1.0409 in the near term, with strong support around 1.0221.

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