Dollar undermined by outflows, while flows return to Asia

The Lawrence Summers’ effect (ie his withdrawal from the race to be next Fed Chairman) rippled through markets, with risk appetite improving, buoying equities as well as bonds. As noted yesterday he is perceived to be less in favour of quantitative easing compared to the other leading contender Yellen. Commodity prices including gold prices slipped while the USD remained under pressure. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the Baltic dry index which has risen sharply since the beginning of September, indicating a positive bias for global economic activity in the months ahead.

As markets brace for the Fed to announce modest tapering plans tomorrow risk assets are set to remain supported, especially given expectations that the Fed will counter tapering with reinforced forward guidance. Effectively this means that the negative impact on the market from less Fed asset purchases will be offset by more reassurance that policy will not be tightened too quickly. Additionally helping the tone of positive risk sentiment is the expectation that a deal on Syrian chemical weapons is moving ahead.

The USD has been undermined by capital outflows from the US, improving risk appetite and US data disappointments. While we do not expect the USD to slide much further it is likely to remain under pressure over the short term before resuming appreciation later into Q4 and next year. The USD has failed to benefit from the rise in US Treasury yields over recent months due to foreign sales of Treasuries. The Fed FOMC meeting tomorrow is unlikely to offer the USD any support.

Further evidence of Treasury outflows is likely to be revealed in today’s releaser of the August US Treasury TIC flows data. Eventually I expect higher US yields to attract foreign flows, especially from Japan as life insurance companies etc, boost their holdings of US Treasuries, but over the near term the USD will be undermined by capital outflows.

GBP has rallied strongly over recent weeks both against the USD and EUR but the currency faces some risks from August CPI inflation data today and Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee minutes tomorrow. While a series of positive data surprises has made the job of the MPC harder in terms of establishing its forward guidance, a slight dip in CPI and possible shift of a couple of MPC members to restart voting for more asset purchases (no votes for further purchases at the last meeting) likely to be revealed in the minutes of the September meeting, could provoke some profit taking and act as a short term cap on GBP.

Despite the ongoing pressure on the USD, the rally in Asian currencies appears to have stalled although they continue to remain well supported amid a generally positive risk environment. Returning portfolio investment flows have helped, with the INR in particular benefitting from renewed inflows. The INR took the above consensus August WPI inflation reading in its stride although the data did reinforce the view that the central bank (RBI) will refrain from shifting policy rates at its meeting later this week.

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