It is highly unlikely that the Bank of Japan adjusts policy at its meeting later this week but further action next year remains likely. More importantly for USD/JPY will be the actions of the Fed this week and the subsequent move in US yields. US 10 year yields have struggled to sustain a move above 2.9% recently, reducing the yield advantage over JGBs and in turn pulling USD/JPY back from its highs.
It is only a matter of time before US yields resume their uptrend and in this respect the outlook remains for more USD/JPY upside. Nonetheless, I am cognisant of the large short (CFTC IMM) JPY position in the speculative market, which into year end suggests plenty of scope for position squaring and short USD covering.
The EUR is set to end the year on firm note but further upside looks limited and the risk / reward favours selling the currency from current levels. Although economic data reveals continued improvement as reflected in the flash Eurozone composite purchasing managers’ index yesterday, much in terms of recovery expectations is in the price.
While a strong basic balance (current account + FDI + portfolio flows) continues to underpin the EUR I do not expect this to persist. Nonetheless as many bears have found out the EUR is a difficult currency to sell and while EUR/USD is likely to increasingly struggle on its approach to 1.3800, any sell off will not be rapid unless the ECB belatedly adopts a more aggressive monetary policy stance.
Like the EUR, GBP is struggling to push higher, as profit takers emerge and a dose of reality sets in given the magnitude of its rally versus USD over recent months (around 10% since July). The rationale for GBP’s gains are clear; surprisingly good economic data and a reassessment of monetary policy implications. However, GBP bullishness has resulted in net long speculative positions reaching their highest since 15 January 2013.
Further GBP gains will require yet more positive economic surprises but this is unlikely to be delivered in the jobs data, inflation data and Bank of England MPC minutes over coming days. Consequently GBP/USD is unlikely to extend gains above 1.6300 in the near term.