GBP has shown its sensitivity to Brexit negotiations over the past week; NZD and AUD are particularly vulnerable to bouts of risk aversion; number of emerging market currencies flashing warning signs of major trouble ahead

By Ian Dobbs*:

This week has started off quietly thanks to the US holiday on Monday, with currencies relatively range bound over the past 24 hours. The calm is unlikely to last for long however as a number of undercurrents currently in play could see volatility return at any stage. The British Pound (GBP) has shown its sensitivity to Brexit negotiations over the past week, seeing periods of both strength and weakness on the back of headlines. Broader trade tensions continue to remain front and centre as the US looks to renegotiate its trading relationships with many key partners. Commodity currencies like the NZD and AUD are particularly vulnerable to bouts of risk aversion during periods of rising trade tensions. Added to all this we have a number of emerging market currencies flashing warning signs of major trouble ahead. The Turkish lira and the Argentine peso have both seen extreme weakness recently and their economies remain in serious trouble. The South African rand and Brazilian real are also feeling pressure, as is the Indonesian rupiah that has slipped to its lowest level since the Asian financial crisis of 1998. With the US on track to continue to raise interest rates, and global trade tensions unlikely to be eased in the near term, the outlook is for more emerging market pain. The best we can hope for is that it remains contained to emerging markets only, but that far from certain at this stage. The coming months could well see significant volatility in FX markets, and while this is a risk for those with exposure, it will also provide many good opportunities for those prepared to take advantage of them.

Major Announcements last week:

  • US GDP 4.2% vs 4.0% expected
  • NZ ANZ Business Confidence -50.3
  • Australian Private Capital Expenditure -2.5% vs +0.6% expected
  • Canadian GDP 0.0% vs 0.1% expected

NZD/USD

The New Zealand dollar (NZD) saw relentless pressure last week driven lower by declining business confidence and global trade tensions. NZ terms of trade data yesterday didn’t help coming in softer than forecast and in the wake of that release the NZDUSD has traded down below 0.6600. For the time being the focus remains firmly on the downside and the potential to retest the mid-August low of 0.6546. Looking further out we would not be surprised to see the NZDUSD trading between 0.6200 and 0.6400 toward the end of this year. Tonight we have a Global Dairy Trade auction to digest, then later in the week key US employment data is set for release.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
NZD/USD 0.6604 0.6546 0.6720 0.6594 - 0.6726

NZD/AUD (AUD/NZD)

The New Zealand dollar (NZD) spent much of last week gaining ground over its Australian cousin, the AUD, briefly trading over 0.9200 (1.0870). Thursday’s release of NZ business confidence completely undermined the currency though and the NZDAUD has been in a downward trend since then. That 0.9200 (1.0870) area also marked key technical resistance and the rejection from that level leaves the pair looking vulnerable to further losses. Currently trading around 0.9150 (1.0929), the market will be focused on today’s Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) rate statement for immediate direction.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
NZD / AUD 0.9157 0.9091 0.9208 0.9109 - 0.9212
AUD / NZD 1.0921 1.0860 1.1000 1.0856 - 1.0979

NZD/GBP (GBP/NZD)

The Pound Sterling (GBP) surged against the New Zealand dollar (NZD) last week in the wake of positive comments from the EU Brexit negotiator. Further NZDGBP losses came after NZ business confidence data declined even further. The pair traded to just under 0.5100 late in the week, but in the past 24 hours headlines from Brexit negotiations have painted a much less rosy picture and that reality is starting to weigh on the GBP with the NZDGBP cross recovering toward 0.5130 as a result. We expect more choppy trading over the coming weeks, but with the market continuing to respect the broader range of 0.5050 to 0.5300 that has dominated since October last year. The real move in the GBP, on way or the other, will come when we finally get a definitive outcome from these Brexit negotiations. That may be some way off yet, but with the March 29 2019 deadline looming, time is quickly running out.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
NZD / GBP 0.5130 0.5090 0.5290 0.5098 - 0.5222
GBP / NZD 1.9492 1.8904 1.9646 1.9151 - 1.9614

 NZD/CAD

Soft NZ business confidence, released in the later stages of last week, helped to drive the New Zealand dollar (NZD) to a low of 0.8588 against the Canadian dollar (CAD). Since then however a lack of progress in trade talks between Canada and the US has seen the CAD come under pressure and that’s helped the NZDCAD cross rate recover toward 0.8640 where it currently sits. We expect further choppy trading as both the NZD and CAD see periods of pressure over the coming week and while the broader trend recently has been to the downside for this pair, there is major support toward the recent lows that may well continue to contain it.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
NZD / CAD 0.8648 0.8560 0.8760 0.8590 - 0.8694

NZD/EURO (EURO/NZD)

The Euro (EUR) has completely outperformed the New Zealand dollar (NZD) over the past week in a continuation of the move that started from around 0.5800 in mid-August. The pair currently trades at 0.5680, having broken below the December 2017 low of 0.5722 (1.7477), and for the time being the risks remain to the downside as the NZD suffers a nasty hangover from declining business confidence. The next key support level is some way off at 0.5550, and that would make a great target for those looking to convert EUR back into NZD, assuming they have time on their side.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
NZD/EUR 0.5684 0.5550 0.5800 0.5680 - 0.5752
EUR/NZD 1.7592 1.7241 1.8019 1.7386 - 1.7386

NZD/YEN

Gains in the NZDJPY cross during the first half of last week were quickly undone in the wake of soft NZ business confidence data. Since then the pair has seen relentless pressure falling from just over 75.00 to currently trade around 73.30. The next major support level comes in at 72.35. That level was tested twice in early August, but it held firm, and we expect it to once again contain any further potential near term weakness. The dairy auction tonight will draw focus as the only significant local release.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
NZD / YEN 73.36 72.35 74.10 73.17 - 75.05

AUD/USD

The past week has been a tough one for the Australian dollar having seen consistent pressure and even briefly trading below key technical support around 0.7200 for a time. Yesterday’s release of softer than forecast retails sales numbers saw the AUDUSD make a low of 0.7169, before a small recovery back above 0.7200 eventuated. Although the AUD continues to look vulnerable, price action yesterday may suggest the market is a little short (sold) and I wouldn’t rule out a squeeze higher this afternoon if the RBA maintains a largely unchanged rate statement in the wake of their meeting. Once the RBA meeting is out of the way the market will still have plenty to focus on over the course of the week with the highlights being Australian GDP and Trade Balance and US employment data.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
AUD / USD 0.7207 0.7200 0.7360 0.7169 - 0.7362

AUD/GBP (GBP/AUD) 

A combination of Australian dollar (AUD) weakness and Pound Sterling (GBP) strength saw this pair collapse lower throughout last week. The AUDGBP cross traded to a low of 0.5539, but in the early stages of this week a recovery has developed with the pair now around the 0.5600 level. Today’s Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) rate statement is the key focus and although no change in interest rates is expected, the tone of the rate statement will drive the AUD. After so much recent AUD selling it’s starting to feel like the market may be a touch short the Australian dollar and as such I would be surprised to see further significant losses in the near term. The sensitivity of the GBP to Brexit headlines however adds another level of uncertainty to this pair and as such we can expect plenty of volatility over the coming week.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
AUD / GBP 0.5601 0.5540 0.5650 0.5539 - 0.5711
GBP / AUD 1.7855 1.7699 1.8050 1.7509 - 1.8053

AUD/EURO (EURO/AUD)

It has been one-way traffic to the downside for this pair for much of the past two weeks. Back on the 20th of August the AUDEUR traded at 0.6409, but after relentless pressure the cross touched a low of 0.6184 yesterday. That’s just shy of the 0.6177 low set back in March of this year. The selling is starting to look a little overdone, but any recovery is going to be in the hands of the RBA with their rate statement set for release this afternoon. The central bank could easily spark a small AUD short squeeze if they maintain a relatively neutral tone, but only time will tell. As long as the pair remains above 0.6177 then we will continue to look for a corrective recovery. Any break below 0.6177 however would be a negative signal and likely encourage further selling.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
AUD/EUR 0.6205 0.6177 0.6295 0.6184 - 0.6291
EUR/AUD 1.6177 1.5886 1.6190 1.5896 - 1.6171

AUD/YEN

This could prove to be a pivotal week for the Australian dollar (AUD) which has seen heaving selling pressure recently. Today’s RBA rate statement will be followed by GDP data tomorrow and Trade Balance figures on Thursday. Will the market get caught a bit short Australian dollars? Only time will tell, but we suspect anything other than dovish releases may well set the scene for a corrective rally in the AUD. Yesterday's low of 79.56 in the AUDJPY was the lowest level since October 2016 and we’ve already seen a recovery from those somewhat oversold levels. It is no doubt data dependant, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a recovery back toward 81.00 in the coming days.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
AUD/YEN 80.07 79.50 81.80 79.56 - 81.79

AUD/CAD

In a race to the bottom between the AUD and the CAD, the hands down winner has been the Australian dollar over recent weeks. That being said, the pair is now not far away from key support levels and it’s starting to look like the selling is a little overdone, at least for now. The AUDCAD cross reached a low of 0.9369 yesterday and that’s just above the May 2015 low of 0.9327. Our feeling is that it would take some very dovish releases this week to drive further AUD selling. With so much negativity already built into the Australian dollar, If the RBA release a largely neutral statement this afternoon, the AUD may well recover somewhat.

DIRECT FX Current level Support Resistance Last wk range
AUD / CAD 0.9439 0.9370 0.9530 0.9369 - 0.9528

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Market commentary:

This week has started off quietly thanks to the US holiday on Monday, with currencies relatively range bound over the past 24 hours. The calm is unlikely to last for long however as a number of undercurrents currently in play could see volatility return at any stage. The British Pound (GBP) has shown its sensitivity to Brexit negotiations over the past week, seeing periods of both strength and weakness on the back of headlines. Broader trade tensions continue to remain front and centre as the US looks to renegotiate its trading relationships with many key partners. Commodity currencies like the NZD and AUD are particularly vulnerable to bouts of risk aversion during periods of rising trade tensions. Added to all this we have a number of emerging market currencies flashing warning signs of major trouble ahead. The Turkish lira and the Argentine peso have both seen extreme weakness recently and their economies remain in serious trouble. The South African rand and Brazilian real are also feeling pressure, as is the Indonesian rupiah that has slipped to its lowest level since the Asian financial crisis of 1998. With the US on track to continue to raise interest rates, and global trade tensions unlikely to be eased in the near term, the outlook is for more emerging market pain. The best we can hope for is that it remains contained to emerging markets only, but that far from certain at this stage. The coming months could well see significant volatility in FX markets, and while this is a risk for those with exposure, it will also provide many good opportunities for those prepared to take advantage of them.

Australia

Political uncertainty combined with disappointing economic data last week to weigh heavily on the Australian dollar. Private Capital Expenditure and Building approvals data both came in well below expectation and the news wasn’t much better with Retail Sales figures which were released yesterday. Retail Sales printed at 0.0% vs +0.3% expected. The prior reading was +0.4%. While this data saw some further selling of the AUD, it was somewhat mitigated by a better outcome for Company Operating Profits which came in stronger than forecast at +2.0%. The market was looking for around 1.4%. This could well prove to be a pivotal week for the AUD with a number of key releases still to come. We will hear from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) later this afternoon when they release their rate statement. While no change in interest rates is universally expected, the tone of their statement can easily impact the market. Wednesday then sees GDP for the second quarter set for release, with expectations for a reading around 0.8%, while on Thursday we have the Trade Balance to digest.

New Zealand

The New Zealand dollar continues to look vulnerable after last week's soft Business Confidence data undermined currency. Pressure remained on the NZD yesterday in the wake of Terms of Trade data which also disappointed. The index printed at 0.6% for the second quarter vs an expected 1.0%. The NZ Treasury also released their Monthly Economic Indicators report which summed the current situation up as follows: Solid retails sales growth should continue to underpin private consumption in the June quarter, but there is less support for growth with easing net migration and declining commodity prices. Trade tensions are also a threat for global growth going forward. The Treasury expect Q2 GDP to be in the region of 0.7%. We suspect that the risks to that GDP estimate are probably slanted to the downside. It certainly seems that the road ahead for the NZ economy is going to provide some challenges with the business cycle having now peaked. The current level of the New Zealand dollar is reflecting that outlook. At this stage the RBNZ have signalled they expect the next move in interest rates to be a hike, although they believe that won’t come until sometime in 2020. One local bank however, made the comment yesterday at that they believe risk of a cut in the OCR next year is 50/50. As more of the market potentially move toward that view over the coming months the NZD should see further pressure.

United States

President Trump’s renegotiation of trade deals continues to draw focus with an agreement between the US and Mexico hammered out late last week. The same cannot be said for the Canada however with negotiations on-going. Tump has certainly been playing hardball with a comment from the Commander in Chief over the weekend that there’s “no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal”. In the meantime, tariffs on up to 200bn of Chinese goods may well come into effect over the coming week. Economic data from the US has largely been positive recently and that trend continued on Friday with better than forecast results for Chicago PMI and Revised University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment. Tonight we get the latest reading of ISM Manufacturing PMI, while the Non-Manufacturing PMI is set for to hit the wires on Thursday night. The week will be rounded out with the ever important Non-Farm Employment Change on Friday.

Europe

A mixed bag of data from the Eurozone last week kept Euro (EUR) traders on their toes with some choppy trading. Overall the currency lost ground against the USD ending up around the 1.1600 area. Quiet trading in the past 24 hours has the EUR just above that level at the moment. Manufacturing PMI figures released overnight for Italy, France and Germany disappointed, but the overall Eurozone print remained unchanged at 54.6, at two year low. Still to come this week we have service sector PMI’s along with retail sales, industrial production for both German and France, and the revised GDP reading.

United Kingdom

Sentiment around the on-going Brexit negotiations continues to drive the UK Pound (GBP). Last week saw the value of the GBP surge as EU negotiator Michel Barnier hinted at progress toward a better Brexit deal when he was reported to promise the UK an “unprecedented partnership”. But over the weekend he returned to talking tough and was quoted as saying he “strongly opposes” Theresa May’s proposal for future trade. For her part, May has said she will refuse to be forced into agreeing compromises that are not in the national interest, but she is also getting pressure from home with ex-foreign security Boris Johnson suggesting the PM’s plan “means disaster” for Britain. The Pound has lost some of its recent shine thanks to the mixed signals, although it still holding onto much of the recent gains. It’s impossible to know if the two sides are any closer to a deal or not, with the only certainty being that the GBP is extremely sensitive to the on-going headlines. Last night we saw the release of Manufacturing PMI, which disappointed by printing below forecast at 52.8. We still have PMI’s from the construction and service sectors to digest this week along with Consumer Inflation Expectations.

Japan

Friday saw a raft of Japanese data releases hit the wires, although the overall impact on the Yen has been somewhat limited. Tokyo headline CPI for August printed at 1.2% y/y vs expectation of 1.0%. Japanese Unemployment ticked up to 2.5% from 2.4% prior, and Industrial Production underwhelmed with a reading of -0.1% vs an expected +0.2%. Yesterday’s release of Markit Manufacturing PMI was a little more positive rising to 52.5 from the prior 52.3. It seems production rose amid faster new orders growth, although geopolitical risks continue to weigh on business sentiment. Japan’s fragile economic recovery relies heavily on the performance, and actions, of the U.S and China and as such the current outlook carries even greater uncertainty than normal.

Canada

The Canadian dollar suffered in the second half of last week on the back of continued NAFTA uncertainty. The USDCAD rose from 1.2900 on Thursday to just shy of 1.3100 yesterday. Negotiations continue, but tweets from Tump over the weekend suggest the US is playing hardball and it remains to be seen just how much ground Canada is willing to give up. While NAFTA headline will continue to draw attention this week, there is plenty of economic data for the market to focus on should they wish. Wednesday night sees Trade Balance data along with the Bank of Canada Rate Statement. No change in rates is expected at this meeting although the market will be looking for signals that an October hike is on the cards as that’s largely already priced in. The will be rounded out with Employment Change data and the Ivey Purchasing Managers Index (PMI).

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1 Comments

Good piece and thanks. 1 question here, you can see a trading range of 62-64 US cents to the NZ dollar (we can see I think are the words used) and yet yesterday Roger Kerr was talking about a move back to 70 US cents. What's the interest.co.nz agglomerated position as 62 - 70 in 24 hours is a pretty big spread if you're relying on trading in US $?