Taking the wind out of the EUR, JPY watching the flow, AUD watching RBA

Market activity was limited yesterday due to holidays in the UK and Japan but will pick up today as both markets reopen. The positive reverberations from the US April jobs report continue to provide a fillip to markets but the impact is already fading.

Once again risk assets are relying on central banks to provide the steroids for further support. In this respect it was the turn of European Central Bank President Draghi to take up the baton yesterday as he noted that further interest rate cuts are possible. Today’s data slate is thin, with the Reserve Bank of Australia policy decision and German March factory orders the main highlights.

ECB President Draghi took the wind out of the EUR’s sails as he highlighted the possibility of further policy easing. Also helping to keep the EUR under pressure was the rise in US Treasury yields; the 10 year yield differential with bunds has widened to close to 52 bps, which due to the strong correlation with EUR/USD is likely to cap any gains in the currency pair.

As Draghi noted prospects for further easing will be highly data dependent which in turn means that the EUR will be more data sensitive in the weeks ahead. The prospects of negative deposit rates in particular will continue to send shivers down the spines of EUR bulls. Look for EUR/USD to be capped around 1.3168.

As Japan returns from holiday USD/JPY is verging once again on a test of psychologically important 100 level. The trigger for the renewed bounce in USD/JPY was a jump in US bond yields following the better than expected US jobs report. In the absence of major US data releases this week Fed speakers including Chairman Bernanke will give further direction to bonds and in turn USD/JPY.

A further widening in the US yield advantage over Japan will be required to push USD/JPY higher especially as recent flow data have shown both Japanese investor repatriation and net foreign buying of Japanese portfolio assets. Despite these inflows we expect a break of 100 to occur very soon, with appetite for foreign assets from Japanese lifers and government pension fund, providing much of the ammunition for a sustained move higher.

AUD has started the week badly having suffered in the wake of the weaker than expected Chinese service sector confidence data and the surprise drop in Australian retail sales in March. Reports that the Australian Treasury will lower growth forecasts for the next two years in part due to AUD strength does not bode well for the currency either.

The data has emboldened doves looking for a policy rate cut from the RBA today and while the decision is a very close call as reflected in market pricing and consensus expectations, the balance of risks suggests that the RBA will hold off this month. This may however, come as scant relief for AUD as markets will likely push back easing expectations to the next meeting on 4 June.

Nonetheless, downside for AUD is likely to be limited, with speculative positioning already at a relatively low level. Strong support for AUD/USD is likely around the 4 March low at 1.0115.

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