EUR USD – FUNDAMENTAL DRIVERS for FX:EURUSD by thunderpips

EUR

FUNDAMENTAL OUTLOOK: NEUTRAL

BASELINE

The EUR has had a bumpy ride over the past few months. At the onset of the war in Ukraine the EUR tumbled across the board. However, in recent weeks, the persistently high inflation has seen the ECB take a more hawkish turn with the bank confirming at least a 25bsp hike for July and possibility of a 50bsp hike in September. Despite the hawkish policy shift, the concerns over fragmentation in bond spreads (BTPBund) as well as fears of growing stagflation risks has seen the EUR struggle to hold onto any hawkish ECB momentum. The ECB did try to comfort spread concerns with promises of a new fragmentation tool, and even though it has kept spread from widening further, concerns remain. If the bank can convince markets that their new spread tool(s) can stop fragmentation it should be supportive for the EUR. The bank did back up their attempts at calming fragmentation fears after an ad-hoc meeting by saying they are looking at introducing an additional ‘tool’ as quick as possible, so markets will be focused on any insights into what that tool might be. Even though growth data has been surprisingly resilient in the past few months, the recession fears ramped up when EU Flash PMIs showed a material deceleration in growth. Incoming growth data will be watched carefully after this and any further signs that the deterioration in growth is gaining momentum should weigh on the EUR.

POSSIBLE BULLISH SURPRISES

Geopolitics remains a focus for the EUR, where any possible de-escalation or cease fire in the Ukraine war would open up a lot of appreciation for the EUR. Stagflation fears are high right now for the Eurozone, with growth expected to slow while inflation stays persistently high. Recent PMI data has invigorated recession fears, which means any materially better-than-expected growth data could spark some upside for the single currency. Even though the ECB’s recent communication has been enough to push BTP/ Bund spreads from their recent highs the concerns remain. Thus, any insights, clarity regarding their new tools that convinces markets it can solve fragmentation should be supportive for the USD.

POSSIBLE BEARISH SURPRISES

Spread fragmentation remains in focus, and if ECB speak in the week ahead fails to calm fears or walks back on recent hawkish comments it could trigger bearish reactions in the EUR. Flash PMIs confirmed growth risks in the EU is very much alive, we expect growth concerns to continue weighing on the EUR and means incoming growth data will be in focus (in the week ahead we have Final Services PMIs, German Factory Orders and German Industrial Production to keep on the radar). Watch those hike expectations. With a lot of froth recent baked into STIR markets for the ECB, we’ve seen a chunky repricing in hike expectations and any further lower repricing is expected to weigh on the single currency.

BIGGER PICTURE

The fundamental outlook for the EUR remains neutral, teetering on bearish with positive and negative forces in play. On the bearish side we have geopolitics, stagflation and spread fragmentation acting as negative drivers. But we also have hawkish ECB policy as a supportive driver. That means our preferred way of trading the EUR right now is taking short-term plays which are driven by clear short-term bearish or bullish catalysts. The disappointing PMI data does open up a potential narrative change for EURGBP and we are currently positioned for some potential downside in the pair.

USD

FUNDAMENTAL OUTLOOK: BULLISH

BASELINE

Hawkish Fed policy remains a key driver for Dollar strength. With headline inflation >8%, the Fed has been pressured to tighten policy aggressively, hiking rates by 75bsp at their June meeting, and continuing with Quantitative Tightening. However, as a result of increasing fears of a growth slowdown (as evidenced by recent econ data), STIR markets have repriced lower, and now expects a terminal rate of 3.3% (versus >4% before the June FOMC meeting). As STIRs reprice lower, we are expecting that to act as a possible short-term negative driver for the USD. Even though lower STIRs should be negative for the USD, as a lot of hikes have been baked in, the growth concerns sparked further risk off concerns this past week, which supported the USD. The USD is usually inversely correlated to the global economy and trade, appreciating when growth & inflation slows and depreciates when growth & inflation accelerates (reflation). Further expectations of a cyclical slowdown and continued tight monetary policy expectations has seen investors shun risk assets and even bonds (usually considered a safe haven), and the USD has been a key benefactor of the rush to safety in recent weeks. Even though US bonds are considered safe havens, the current high inflation has seen a strong stock-to-bond correlation and has caused big bond outflows. With bonds not fulfilling its usual save haven role the USD has been the haven of choice.

POSSIBLE BULLISH SURPRISES

As aggressive Fed policy has been supporting the USD, any incoming data (this week’s ISM Services and NFP) that sparks further aggressive hike expectations, or additionally any comments from FOMC members that signals even more aggressive policy could trigger bullish reactions in the USD. As the cyclical outlook for the global economy is very bleak, and the USD is considered a safe haven, it means incoming data that exacerbates fears of recession and triggers a big rush to safety could trigger bullish USD reactions. Further outflows in US bonds means more USD safe haven appeal. So, watching key triggers for further upside in bond yields like rising commodity prices, rising inflation expectations and upside surprises in inflation data could also trigger further USD bullish reactions.

POSSIBLE BEARISH SURPRISES

Apart from this past week, the USD has reacted cyclically to incoming data which could suggest markets is shifting from safe haven focus to the rising risks of recession. The worse growth data gets, the higher likelihood of a ‘Fed Put’ in the months ahead. Thus, extremely bad ISM Services PMI or NFP data this week could trigger bearish reactions in the USD. Tactically the USD is trading at cycle highs, and aggregate CFTC positioning is close prior highs which acted as local tops for the USD. Thus, stretched positioning could make the USD vulnerable to mean reversion in the short-term. With a lot already priced for the Fed, it won’t take much for the Fed to disappoint markets on the dovish side. Any FOMC comments that suggests more concern about the economy than inflation could trigger bearish reactions in the USD

BIGGER PICTURE

The fundamental outlook for the USD remains bullish as long as the Fed stays aggressive and cyclical concerns put pressure on risk assets. But we do want to be mindful that lots has been priced for the USD, and as growth deteriorates, we are expecting that the weigh on the USD if markets start pricing in a higher likelihood of a less hawkish Fed due to higher recession risks. The opposite side to that though is that further concerns about the economy sees more safe haven inflows into the Dollar. Positioning is stretched, so we would prefer much deeper pullbacks for new med-term USD longs and would look for short-term catalyst that offer shorter bearish sentiment trades against the current strong bull trend.

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