Australian dollar unworried by political developments

The USD remains firm but is struggling to make further headway against major crosses. Some improvement in risk appetite, firmer equity markets and slightly lower yields today may limit the ability of the USD to extend its gains in the near term (as the USD usually suffers when risk appetite improves and US yields drop) although we expect any setback to prove temporary, with US Treasury bond yields set to continue to move higher over the coming weeks, albeit at a more gradual pace.

USD/JPY’s rebound has stalled over recent days despite the fact that US bond yields have continue to rise relative to Japanese JGB yields. My analysis of JPY performance during the last thee periods of sharply higher US yields shows that the JPY weakened versus USD in the first two periods and is on the verge of doing so in the third period (since early May).

Additionally the JPY has maintained a strongly negative correlation with US yields over the past 12 months. All of this suggests that the JPY will resume a weaker trend over coming weeks although markets may wait until the Japanese Upper House elections on July 21 and subsequent news of further reforms before pushing the JPY much weaker.

It if wasn’t enough that the AUD was suffering from higher US yields and China concerns, the announcement of a leadership election for the Labor leadership will have done little to bolster confidence in the currency. That said, politics is not an important driver of the AUD and the currency managed to eek out some gains despite Prime Minister Gillard’s loss in the contest.

Some easing in funding tensions among China’s banks has helped the AUD, with the currency showing encouraging signs of stabilization over recent days. However, its limited progress is still a long way from becoming a sustained rally. AUD/USD has a very negative correlation with 10 year US Treasury yields over the past 3 months, and continues to remain susceptible to further US yield increases until the market finally becomes accustomed the prospects of Fed tapering.

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