The Dollar And Euro: Breakout Vs. Breakdown

Includes: FXE, GLD, USO, UUP
by: Daryl Montgomery

As the U.S. trade-weighted dollar (NYSEARCA:UUP) breaks out from a four month consolidation pattern, the euro (NYSEARCA:FXE) is falling below major support. The movements of these currencies have important implications for the rest of the market.

The dollar has been stuck trading roughly between 79 and 82 since January. There is strong chart resistance at these levels both from recent times and two decades ago. In the last couple of years, the dollar made a double top at just under 82 in late 2010 and early 2011. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the dollar made a triple bottom at three different points in this year's trading range. The dollar finally broke above 82 on May 23rd. While there is minor resistance just under 84, major resistance is from 88 to 89 - the highs during the Credit Crisis in late 2008 and early 2009 and in mid-2010 during the first phase of the Greek debt crisis. It should be assumed the dollar will get to that level again and possibly higher. How long it takes to do so is still an open question.

As is almost always the case, the euro is moving opposite to the dollar. The euro has strong support at and just above 125. It made a double bottom at this level while the dollar was peaking during the Credit Crisis. Recently in January, it made another low at this level. There was a clear break below on May 24th. Next stop for the euro is the low around 119 established in June 2010 when the dollar was just above 88. If the euro breaks this support, it will try to head toward parity with the dollar. The powers that be will of course do everything possible to try to prevent this.

The commodity markets are heavily influenced by the dollar/euro price actions. All commodities are priced in dollars, so a rising dollar will lower commodity prices all else being equal. Oil (NYSEARCA:USO) and gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) are generally at the forefront of this price dampening. This is one reason commodity gold was down 30% during the Credit Crisis, despite its safe-haven status. WTI Oil dropped almost 80% at the same time. Stocks of the commodity producers usually dropped much more than the commodity itself. Multinational stocks in general are also negatively impacted by a rising dollar because their earnings are mostly made in other currencies.

Since a large move in major currencies are destabilizing, central bankers are always concerned when they happen. They will continue to do everything possible to prop up the euro, although the currency union cannot continue to exist in its current incarnation. There is a long history of governments trying to prop up weakened currencies however and while devaluations can be delayed, they can't be avoided altogether.

This posting is editorial opinion. There is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.