Plenty of data and events before winding down

Although markets already appear to be in wind down mode ahead of the year end holidays there is plenty of data and events over coming days that could change the complexity of market activity. To begin the week news that that China’s official November purchasing managers’ index remained at an 18 month high will bode well for markets, especially in Asia.

Elsewhere it is still too early to gauge how well the four day spending over the US Thanksgiving holiday fared for US retailers although initial indications suggest that spending will be down on last year. Over coming days there will be plenty of evidence to finalise opinions about what the Federal Reserve will do at its December 17-18 FOMC meeting. US data releases this week include the November ISM manufacturing survey, home sales, Fed’s Beige, US Q3 GDP revision and the November jobs report.

Ahead of the Fed meeting other central banks will be in focus this week including the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Reserve Bank of Australia. No change in policy is expected from any of them leaving all the attention on the US jobs report. This ought to ensure that the asset allocation shift from bonds to equities will leave equities around record highs while core bond yields continue to edge higher.

The USD has failed to benefit versus EUR despite higher US yields but has made gains against the JPY and many commodity and EM currencies. I look for the USD to move higher over coming weeks. Overall risk appetite is likely to remain supported into year end although much will depend on the plethora of data releases and central bank meetings this week.

EUR is looking increasing stretched around current levels, especially given the likelihood that the ECB will sound relatively dovish this week, with staff growth forecasts likely to be revised lower and inflation forecasts remaining below target. The strength of the EUR is clearly acting as a counterweight to efforts to ease policy but efforts to sell the currency continue to face renewed buying interest. Technical resistance around EUR/USD 1.3627 ought to provide a short term cap.

GBP has made somewhat better progress against the EUR and there appears to be little to stop its upward progress at present. Meanwhile USD/JPY remains under upward pressure, with last week’s inflation data highlighting that there has been some progress on ending deflation although the likelihood of more Bank of Japan easing in the months ahead suggests that further JPY downside is in store.

Aside from the JPY last month’s biggest underperformers in Asia were the IDR and THB. There is little sign of this pattern changing. Indeed, in terms of Asian FX relative value in terms of North versus South East Asia continues to pay dividends. Both Indonesia and Thailand registered outflows of equity capital last month compounding the pressure on the currencies.

THB has taken another leg lower in the wake of escalating protests over the weekend and looks set to test its 6 September USD/THB high at 32.480. As noted by the BoT governor the protests are affecting the economic outlook. In Indonesia questions about the external balance remain a weight on the currency An expected widening in the October deficit and higher November inflation will not help the IDR today.

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