Animal Spirits Are Subdued, But They Are There

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Includes: FXA, FXB, FXE, FXS, FXY, UDN, UUP
by: Marc Chandler

Summary

Narrow trading ranges in fx dominate.

Some preference for higher volatile instruments and currencies evident.

Mexican peso performance may be counter-intuitive after unexpected 50 bp rate cut before the weekend.

Between the Queen's birthday in Australia, Whit Monday in parts of Europe, and the lack of fresh trading incentives, the US dollar caught in narrow ranges and is little changed on the day as North American traders take to their posts. If there is a theme in the global capital markets it is the outperformance of more volatile assets, which in the fixed income space, translates to demand for higher yield.

The MSCI Emerging Market equity index is up about 0.25% today. Here Indonesia is a clear under-performer as Jakarta Composite is off 1%, weighed down by oil and gas and basic materials. Recall its ban on mineral exports has boosted some metals like nickel and bauxite. European shares are build in on last week's gains, up another 0.2% today.

Peripheral bond yields in Europe continue to fall. Italian and Spanish 10-year benchmark yields are off 3-4 bp to new lows and the premium over bunds continues to narrow. Bunds are flat on the day. Portugual's 10-year yield is off 7 bp and Greek yields are off slightly. Over the past week, the Italy, Spain and Portugal's 10-year yields are off 22-25 bp, while Greece's 10-year yield is off twice as much.

In the currency market, the higher yielding and more volatile Australian and New Zealand dollars are easily the strongest major currencies, rising 0.3% and 0.2% respectively against the greenback. The RBNZ is widely expected to hike the cash rate by 25 bp tomorrow. There is a greater risk of a dovish surprise; that is for the RBNZ to stand pat, than there is for it to hike by a larger amount.

The Swedish krona is the weakest of the major currencies, off about 0.4% against the dollar and 0.35% against the euro. Yet it is important to note that it is within the pre-weekend trading range. While the Sweden's 10-year bond is under-performing (+2 bp), the equity market is among the strongest, rising nearly 1% today.

The focus appears to be on the inflation report later in the week (June 12), which is expected to show a return to deflationary conditions (consensus for May CPI -0.2% year-over-year) and spur the Riksbank to cut rates at its next meeting in July. Separately, we note that the latest polls suggest the center-left opposition is still ahead of the governing coalition. The national election is 3 months away (Sept 14).

The euro itself was confined to extremely narrow ranges (10 pips) for most of the Asian session, was bid to almost $1.3670 in early Europe and then sold off on the back of the softer-than-expected Sentix survey. It fell to 8.5 from 12.8, which is the lowest of the year. The consensus was for an uptick to 13.3. Initial support is seen just above $1.3600.

Sterling's price action is broadly similar, but without the impact of the deterioration in sentiment, it is faring better than the euro. The down ticks in early Europe left it just above $1.6800, with support noted in the $1.6785 area. This is an important data week for the UK industrial output, employment and the Mansion House Address.

Japan reported a smaller current account surplus and stronger Q1 GDP than expected, but the yen remains uninspired. The dollar has been confined to about a quarter of a yen range thus far today. The April current account surplus, the third consecutive surplus, stood at JPY187.4 bln of about JPY100 bln less than expected. The trade surplus deteriorated by JPY223 bln from March to JPY1.40 trillion. However, the surplus on the investment income rose to JPY1.833 trillion from JPY1.735 trillion. More recent data warns of further trade deterioration in May, which will likely result in a return to current account deficits. The trade balance for the first 20 days in May shows continued increase in imports and a fall in exports.

Separately, Japan revised Q1 GDP to show a 1.6% quarter-over-quarter increase, up from 1.5% and contrasting with expectations of a 1.4% rate. Disappointingly, the deflator slipped to 0.1% from flat, suggesting that deflation continues to lurk below the surface. The key to the upward revision in growth came from the revision in capex to 7.6% from 4.9%. Domestic demand rose to 2.2% from 2.1% in the initial report.

Despite the depreciation of the yen, net exports shaved 0.03% off of GDP. The economy is expected to contract in the current quarter under the weight of the sales tax increase. The key for policy is the July-Sept quarter. If there is not a strong economic rebound, speculation will mount again for more BOJ action and possibly a supplemental budget.

There are no reports from the US today. The main report ahead of next week's FOMC meeting is Thursday's (May retail sales data). A strong reported is expected. Canada reports May housing starts, in what is a relatively light economic calendar week for it too. The disappointing IVEY (48.2 from 54.1 vs.56.0 consensus) and employment report (full-time positions fell by 29k after a 30k decline in April) may see the Canadian dollar under perform. Lastly, in North America, counter-intuitively, we expect the peso to do well, despite the unexpected 50 bp rate cut before the weekend. Its 3% rates are still attractive. More often than not, the recent rate cuts have seen the currency rally.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.