Costs are Aflame

The central banks of the G10
Are starting to realize the ‘when’
Of interest rate rises
To forestall a crisis
Is sooner than they thought back then

Inflation breakevens keep rising
While companies are proselytizing
That they’re not to blame
As costs are aflame
Thus CB’s, their plans, are revising

It is difficult to scan a news source these days without seeing a story of how some company or another is raising their prices by X% due to increased shipping/raw material costs/labor costs.  And the reporter doesn’t really have to look that hard for the typical anecdotes that accompany this type of story since the situation has become increasingly prevalent.  Just this morning I read about Unilever, WD-40 and P&G all explaining that prices have not only already risen but would be rising further in the months ahead.  Obviously, this does not bode well for the transitory narrative, which is in its death throes.  That being said, it is still not the universal opinion of all Fed members.  For instance, yesterday NY Fed president John Williams exclaimed that long-term inflation expectations have risen to levels “consistent with the 2% goal.”  Now, I’m not sure what long-term expectations he is looking at, but yesterday, the 5-year/5-year inflation rate in the US Treasury market closed at 2.915%, its highest level since the series began in 2002.  The 19-year history of this measure shows an average of 1.85%, which seems more in line with Williams’ comments.  But one must be willfully blind to look at the chart of this series and claim inflation expectations remain sedate.

The risk for the central banks that maintain inflation is not a growing issue is loss of whatever credibility they have remaining.  And the upshot is, markets are not listening to them anymore and have begun to price in more aggressive rate hikes around the world.  In the US, the first rate hike is priced for next July, right about the time the Fed previously expected to finish tapering.  And there is a second hike priced in before the end of 2022.  In the UK, the first hike is priced for this December with three more expected by next September.  Even in the Eurozone, a full hike is priced in by the end of next year, something that not a single ECB banker has expressed, and in fact, several have categorically denied.

At the same time, longer term yields are rising as well, with 10-year Treasuries up to 1.68% even after having fallen 2.1 bps in the overnight session.  German bunds, while still negative (-0.09%) are at their highest level since May 2019, which was the last time their yield was at 0.0%.  And we are seeing similar price action across Gilts, OATs and Australian GBs.  (The latter despite the fact that the RBA remains adamant that they will not be raising interest rates until 2024.  Methinks they will have some crow to eat on that subject.)

The problem for central banks, and their respective governments, is that given the extraordinary amount of debt outstanding, higher yields can quickly become a problem.  So, ask yourself how can a central bank prevent rising yields without raising front end rates or expanding their balance sheets further?  You will not like this answer but here is a taste of what could be coming our way; regulatory changes that force institutions to buy government bonds.  Consider the ease with which central banks could require commercial banks to expand the ratio of government bonds in their asset portfolio, or insurance companies or pension funds or all three.  Financial repression can take form in many ways, and this would likely be the first step.  After all, for the average person, this is a relatively esoteric process and would not likely be widely understood hence would not cause an uproar.  Of course, all those insurance company and pension fund portfolios that needed to replace stock holdings with bonds would result in some pretty big selling pressure in the equity market, which would get a little more press.  But central banks wouldn’t get the blame as they are one step removed from the process.  In their eyes, this would be a win-win.

The implication is not that this is imminent, just that it is a possible pathway in the future, and one that seems more and more likely as inflation drives yields higher.  However, for now, the market is still of the belief that central banks will be forced to raise rates and are pricing accordingly.  Given the widespread nature of this belief set, the relative impact on currencies remains muted.  However, if US rates continue to lead the way higher, I think the dollar will continue to see the most support.

Ok, a quick look at today shows that despite the gathering inflation clouds, risk is in vogue with equities generally higher and bonds generally softer.  Last night saw modest gains in the Nikkei (+0.35%) and Hang Seng (+0.4%) although Shanghai (-0.35%) continues to feel the pain of the property situation in China. (As an aside, Evergrande made a surprise partial payment on the USD bond coupon that had been overdue and was about to trigger a default. So, it lives to default another day.)  Europe, too, is having a generally positive session with the CAC (+1.1%) leading the way higher but strong gains in the DAX (+0.7%) and FTSE 100 (+0.55%).  Here, the data released was the preliminary PMI data, which was best described as mixed compared to forecasts, but broadly softer compared to last month, and continues to trend lower.  The outlier here was the UK, which had stronger PMI data, but much weaker than expected Retail Sales data, so perhaps offsetting news.  As to US futures markets, the are either side of unchanged at this hour after this week’s rally.

Bond markets throughout the continent are seeing selling pressure with yields rising (Bunds +1.7bps, OATs +1.6bps) but Gilts (-0.8bps) have a bid along with Treasuries (-2.1bps).  The trend, though remains for higher yields as investors respond to rising inflationary forecasts.  Central banks have their work cut out for them if they want to maintain control of these markets.

In the commodity markets, oil (+0.4%) and NatGas (+0.8%) are back in the green as are copper (+0.75%) and gold (+0.55%).  In fact, pretty much the entire complex including industrial metals and agricultural products are all firmer this morning.

Finally, the dollar is softer across the board in the G10, with AUD (+0.45%) the leading gainer on the back of the commodity picture, followed by SEK (+0.35%) and NOK (+0.35%) which are similarly well situated.  The pound (+0.05%) is the laggard as the Retail Sales data seems to have undermined some bullish views.  In the emerging markets, there are two outliers, one in each direction.  The only loser of the day is TRY (-1.0%) which continues to suffer from yesterday’s surprising 200bps rate cut.  Meanwhile, RUB (+1.4%) has been the leading gainer after the Bank of Russia surprised the market with a 75bp rate hike, much larger than the 25bp-50bp that had been forecast.  Adding that to the price of oil has been an unalloyed positive.  Away from those two, however, gains are modest with ZAR (+0.35%) the next best performer following commodity prices higher.

Preliminary PMI data is the only thing on the docket data wise this morning, but Chairman Powell speaks at 11:00 as the final speaker before the quiet period begins.  Given the differences we heard from Williams and Waller, it will be very interesting to see if Powell is more concerned about inflation or employment.

As such, I expect a muted morning ahead of Powell’s comments and then the opportunity for some activity if he substantially changes the narrative.  My sense is that any change would be hawkish and therefore a dollar positive.

Good luck, good weekend and stay safe

PS, I will be out of the office next week so no poetry again until November 1st.


While measured inflation has jumped
And stock markets, Powell has pumped
The dollar is queasy
As money this easy
Has bulls concerned they’ll get gazumped

But its not just Powell who’s saying
That QE and ZIRP will be staying
Almost to a man
The Fed’s master plan
Is printing and buying…and praying

Once again, yesterday, we heard from several FOMC members and each of them highlighted that the data has not yet come close to describing the “substantial progress” they are seeking with respect to reduced unemployment and so it is not nearly time to begin even thinking about tapering.  Well, except for the lone quasi-hawkish voice of Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, who did express concern that the Fed’s actions were part of the reason that asset prices are so high.  But not to worry, Mr Kaplan will not be a voter until 2023, so will not even be able to officially register his disagreement with policy for two more years.  In other words, based on everything we continue to hear, we can expect a series of 9-0 votes every six weeks to maintain current policy.

It is this ongoing messaging, which comes not only from the Fed but from the ECB and BOJ as well, that continues to drive the narrative as well as market prices.  Inflation?  Bah, it’s transitory and while 2021 may see some higher readings, it will all disappear by 2022.  Bubbles?  Bah, central banks cannot detect them and, even if they could, it is not their job to deflate them.  It has become abundantly clear that the three big central banks have jointly decided that the only thing that matters is the unemployment rate, and until that data is back at record low levels, regardless of what else is happening in the economy, the current state of QE and ZIRP/NIRP is going to remain in place.

Thus, it cannot be that surprising this morning that the dollar has begun to slide a bit more in earnest, while risk appetite, as measured by equity prices remains robust.  A very large segment of the punditry continue to harp on concerns over rising inflation and how the Fed and other central banks will be forced to adjust their policy to prevent it from getting out of hand.  But simply listening to virtually every central banker tells us that nothing is going to change.

Through that April employment report, we have not made substantial further progress,” said Fed Vice-Chair Richard Clarida yesterday.  Meanwhile, from the ECB, Francois Villeroy de Galhau explained this morning, “Today there’s no risk of a return of lasting inflation in the euro area, and so there’s no doubt that the ECB’s monetary policy will remain very accommodative for a long time.  I want to say that very clearly.”  I don’t know about you, but it seems pretty clear that the concept of tapering QE purchases, let alone raising interest rates, is not even on the table.

Now, smaller central banks have changed their tune, notably the Bank of Canada and Sweden’s Riksbank, with the former actually reducing QE purchases while the latter has promised to do so shortly.  As well, the Bank of England has begun the discussion about reducing policy support as the economy there continues to open rapidly, and growth picks up.  As such, it should not be that surprising that those three currencies (GBP +2.75%, CAD +2.1%, SEK +1.9%) are the leading gainers vs. the dollar so far this month.

Perhaps what is also interesting is that the euro is strengthening so clearly vs. the dollar despite the strong words by ECB members regarding the maintenance of easy money.  It appears that the market has a stronger belief in the Fed’s willingness to ignore the repercussions of their policy choices than that of the ECB.  Remember, in the end, Europe remains reliant on Germany as its engine of growth and largest economy, and German DNA, ever since the Weimar hyperinflation in the 1920’s favors tighter policy, not looser.  Madame Lagarde will have a tougher battle to maintain easy policy if the data starts to point higher than will Chairman Powell.  Right now, however, that is all theoretical regarding both banks.  Easy money is here for the foreseeable future, which means that risk appetite is likely to remain strong, driving up stock and commodity prices while the dollar sinks.

What about bonds, you may ask?  Haven’t they been the key driver?  The answer is that they have been the key driver,  but a close look at statistics like inflation breakevens, and more importantly, the shape of the breakeven curve, offer indications that even though near-term expectations are for much higher inflation, more and more investors are buying the transitory story.  If that is, in fact, the case, then there is ample room for bonds to rally as well, which would be quite the shock to all the inflationistas out there.

This morning is exhibit A regarding the impact of increased risk appetite.  Equity markets around the world are higher with Asia (Nikkei +2.1%, Hang Seng +1.4%, Shanghai +0.3%) putting in some very strong performances while Europe (DAX +0.25%, CAC +0.2%, FTSE 100 +0.4%) are all green, but have come off their best levels of the morning.  US futures are also pointing higher, with gains ranging from 0.2% (Dow) to 0.7% (Nasdaq).

The bond market, meanwhile, is directionless, with yields for Treasuries (-0.5bps) and European sovereigns (Bunds 0.0bps, OATs -0.7bps, Gilts +0.7bps) all trading in narrow ranges.  If you consider that given the increase in risk appetite as evidence by stocks, commodities and the dollar, the very fact that bonds are not selling off is actually a bullish sign.

Speaking of commodities, Brent crude (+0.6%) traded above $70/bbl for the first time since November 2018 this morning and WTI is firmer by a similar amount.  Metals prices continue to rally (Au 0.0%, Ag +0.8%, Cu +1.0%, Al +0.7%), as do foodstuffs (Soybeans +0.6%, Wheat +0.75%, Corn +1.7%).  While it is not clear how much longer commodity prices will rally, it seems abundantly clear, based on their price action, that the rally has more legs.

And finally, the dollar, which as mentioned above is under pressure, is having a really bad day.  Versus its G10 counterparts, the dollar is softer across the board with NZD (+0.7%), NOK (+0.6%) and CHF (+0.55%) leading the way.  But the euro (+0.45%) is also much firmer and now trading above 1.22 for the first time since early February.  If you recall, 1.2350 was the high seen the first week of January, and in order to truly change opinions, the euro will have to trade through that level.  With the dollar so weak, it certainly seems like there is a good chance to get there soon.

EMG markets are also seeing pretty uniform gains with ZAR (+0.7%), HUF (+0.65%) and PLN (+0.6%) leading the way, the former on the back of commodity price strength while the two CE4 currencies are benefitting from the belief that both central banks may be tightening policy shortly as well as the euro’s strength.  But we saw strength overnight in the APAC currencies as well (KRW +0.4%, SGD +0.4%, TWD +0.35%) as they all are responding to the broad-based dollar weakness.

On the data front, today brings Housing Starts (exp 1702K) and Building Permits (1770K), with both simply showing that the housing market remains on fire.  Meanwhile, only Robert Kaplan is scheduled to speak, but we already know what he thinks (tapering needs to start soon) and we also know his is a lone voice in the wilderness.  It would not surprise me if we had a surprise series of comments from another FOMC member just to counter his views.

Looking ahead to the session, there is no reason to believe that the dollar’s weakness is going to change anytime soon.  Unless Treasury yields start to back up smartly, risk appetite is the dominant story today, and that bodes ill for the dollar.

Good luck and stay safe

Central Bank Dreams

The story that’s now being told
Is growth worldwide’s now taking hold
So real rates are rising
And it’s not surprising
That havens are now being sold

Thus, this explains why sovereign debt
Is being sold, and is a threat
To central bank dreams
Or really, their schemes
Inflation to truly beget

Treasury yields, or perhaps more accurately, sovereign yields, remain the top story in markets as their movement continues to underpin most other action.  The very sharp rise in yields seen year-to-date had been driven by rising inflation expectations.  This is clear when looking at breakevens where the 5yr-5yr has climbed from 1.93% at the beginning of the year to 2.60% as of yesterday.  This rise makes up the bulk of the rise in the 10-year Treasury yield, which has gone from 0.91% to 1.70% during the same time frame.  And it has been the rise in inflation expectations that has been a key feature in many of the forecasts for rising inflation beyond the next several months, where base effects from the initial pandemic shutdowns will be seen.

Given the run of very strong data that has been recently released, with yesterday’s ISM Services print of 63.7 being the highest in the series’ 25-year history as the latest example, the narrative is starting to adjust slightly. Recently there have been a number of analyst reports discussing the idea that rising yields represent rising growth expectations and not rising inflation expectations.  If this is true, it certainly alters the calculus of future market activity.  It is also likely to alter the reaction functions of central banks.

Consider what we have heard from the major central banks since the GFC; the greatest threat to economic activity is deflation and each and every one of them has gone out of their way to try to stoke inflation.  Of course, the underlying reason for a central bank to stoke inflation is to help debase the value of their government’s outstanding debt.  This concept has grown dramatically in importance as the amount of government debt outstanding has skyrocketed during the past decade while trend growth has slowed.  Thus, the only way to escape this debt trap was to inflate away the real value of that debt.  This logic is part and parcel of the current central bank guidance regarding maintaining ZIRP or NIRP until inflation and employment goals are actually met, rather than acting when they are anticipated to be met.

Understand, monetary policy acts with a lag, generally considered to be in the 6mo-1yr time frame, so if a central bank does not adjust policy until a target is reached, the likelihood is that variable will continue on its recent trend for many months once the central bank acts.  For example, if the Fed waits for inflation to average 2.0% for a period of time before tightening policy, inflation is likely to continue rising beyond that target for upwards of a year or more before beginning to slow down.  It is for this reason that central banks pay such close attention to expectations data as it gives them clues to potential market responses to their actions.  And it is for this reason that a change in the underlying driver of increasing yields will alter so much.

A key feature of the equity market rally has been the fact that real yields have been negative for quite a while driving investors to seek positive real returns.  This is the TINA concept, there is no alternative.  But if real yields start to climb because growth expectations are climbing with less concern over potential inflationary effects, suddenly there is an alternative to owning equities, especially for pension-type investors who generally seek the least risk available for a return.  If there is an alternative, then a rethinking of the current multiples for equity markets is quite reasonable.  In other words, stock prices could easily fall a fair amount.  Now, declining stock prices have been a key signal to central banks that policy ease is in order, at least since October 1987 in the aftermath of Black Monday.  But this begs the question, what if this process unfolds before central banks have begun raising rates?

As you can see, if this change in the narrative is accurate, and real yields begin climbing, central banks will simply find themselves in a different predicament but with the same tools available.  In other words, policy ease may have a different nominal rationale, but that doesn’t help the fixed income investor.  And how will this impact the FX market?  That is probably the easiest short-term answer, the dollar will follow real yields higher, and if the Fed steps in to cap those yields, via YCC or expanded QE, then the dollar will reverse course lower.  So, watch the movement in real yields for clues as to the dollar’s next steps.

Enough of that and on to markets.  Risk is largely in vogue this morning, at least in Europe, although Asian equities had a more mixed session.  Last night saw the Nikkei (-1.30%) soften while Shanghai (0.0%) went nowhere.  The Hang Seng was closed, although we did see the ASX 200 rise 0.8% Down Under.  Europe, however, is all green all the time, with the DAX (+1.2%) and FTSE 100 (+1.1%) leading the way while the CAC (+0.6%) is lagging but still having a good time. Interestingly, after more record highs yesterday in the US, futures markets are all pointing slightly lower, with the three main indices showing declines of -0.1% to -0.2%.

Bond markets, as would be expected in a risk-on session, are mostly declining, with European sovereigns trading with yields higher by about 2.5 basis points in the big three markets.  Treasury yields are little changed at this time but remain right on that 1.70% yield level.  There is much discussion as to whether the next leg higher in yields is coming soon, or if we have exhausted the drive higher.  Arguably, if growth expectations continue to increase, the case for higher Treasury yields will be inexorable.

In the commodity space, oil prices (+1.35%) are rebounding but WTI has had trouble holding the $60/bbl level ever since its sharp decline two weeks ago.  Precious metals are a bit firmer (Au +0.3%, Ag +0.4%), although Cu (-1.5%) has softened a bit on the day.

Finally, the dollar is broadly stronger this morning despite the increased risk appetite in equity markets.  While the euro is little changed, we are seeing sharp declines in NZD (-0.6%), GBP (-0.5%) and NOK (-0.4%) with Kiwi simply retracing gains made in yesterday’s illiquid markets with similar price action seen in both Sterling and Nokkie.  There is little fundamental driving these moves right now.

Emerging market currencies had a more mixed performance with KRW (+0.7%) as the big winner benefitting from an increase in foreign inflows to both the KOSPI and Korean bond markets.  CNY (+0.25%) has responded to word from the PBOC that they are asking the major commercial banks to reduce their lending to prevent bubbles and other possible financial dislocations.  This helped push Chinese interest rates a touch higher supporting the currency.  On the downside, TRY (-0.4%) continues to be the worst performer in the space as inflation worries continue to grow in the country, but elsewhere, movement has been fairly tame.

On the Data front, we only see JOLTs Job Opening (exp 6.9M) which has not gained many market adherents as an important data point despite the Fed’s focus on employment, likely because the data is quite old, with this morning’s release describing February activity.  As to Fed speakers, only Richmond’s Thomas Barkin is on the tape today, but there still seems little chance of a change in Fed expectations.

Many are claiming the dollar has put in a short-term top, although as discussed above, if real US yields continue to rise, I expect the dollar will rise right alongside them.  And in truth, that remains the single key driver in the FX markets for now.  Higher Treasury yields still portend a higher dollar and vice versa.

Good luck and stay safe

Fears to Assuage

When calendars all turned the page
To ‘Twenty-One, clearly the rage
Was bets on reflation
And more legislation
For stimulus, fears to assuage

The dollar was slated to fall
The yield curve, to grow much more tall
While stocks were to rally
And Covid’s finale
Was forecast, a popular call

But so far, while stocks have edged higher
And bond yields are truly on fire
The dollar remains
Ensconced in its gains
Its meltdown has yet to transpire

One cannot be but impressed with the dollar’s resilience so far this year amid such surety by so many that it was destined to fall sharply.  Consensus views at the beginning of January were that the vaccines would lead to significant reflation in the global economy, equity markets would benefit greatly, bond yields would rise amid trillions of dollars of new issuance, and the dollar would fall.  As I said from the start, higher bond yields and a steeper yield curve did not typically lead to dollar weakness.  And that is what we have begun to see in the past several sessions.

Global bond markets have really started to reprice the current situation.  While the US story is easy to understand; huge new stimulus bill with no tax increases means huge new Treasury issuance to pay for things and supply overwhelms demand, one needs to ask what is driving the price declines throughout Europe and Asia as well. Stimulus efforts elsewhere have been less substantial despite more severe lockdowns by most of Europe and many Asian nations.  So, perhaps it was not merely the supply-demand imbalance that had bond investors concerned, perhaps it was also inflation expectations.

Certainly, these have been rising sharply with US 5yr-5yr breakevens now at 2.40% this morning, the highest level since March 2013, and not merely trending higher, but exploding higher.  (Germany, too, has seen a sharp rise in breakeven inflation, albeit to much lower levels, rising from 0.2% at the lows last March to 1.06% today.)  While last week’s CPI readings were a touch softer than expected on a headline basis, the reality is that higher inflation remains almost assured going forward.  This is partly because of the way the data is calculated, where last year’s pandemic induced lows will fall out of the calculation to be replaced by this year’s much higher readings.  It is also evident in the rising price of commodities, specifically oil (+1.0% this morning) which is higher by 25% this year.  In fact, the entire energy sector has seen prices rise by roughly that amount, and we have seen gains across the board in both base metals and all agricultural products.  In other words, stuff costs more.

Perhaps, of more concern is the insouciance toward inflation shown by the Fed.  For example, just yesterday, SF Fed President Mary Daly, when asked about inflation getting out of hand replied, “I don’t think that’s a risk we should think about right now.  We should be less fearful about inflation around the corner and recognize that fear costs millions of jobs.”  If you think the Fed is going to respond to any inflation data, anytime soon, you are mistaken.  They have made it very clear that the only part of their mandate that currently matters is employment.

So, let’s recap; the price of stuff is going higher while the Fed is adamant that tighter policy is inappropriate at this time.  Bonds are doing their job, or perhaps that is; the bond vigilantes are doing their job.  They are forcing yields higher, and left unabated, probably have much further to go.  But will they be left unabated?  I think the definitive answer is, no, the Fed will not allow Treasury yields to rise very much further.  And this, of course, drives my view that the dollar, while strong now, will eventually reverse course, as the Fed halts the rise in Treasury yields.

But for now, those higher yields are attracting investors into dollar products, and by extension, into dollars.  And this story can play out for a while yet.  It is a mug’s game to try to guess at what point the Fed will become uncomfortable with Treasury yields, with current guesses ranging from 1.50% to 3.0% in the 10-year.  My sense is it will be toward the lower end of that range that will encourage the extension and expansion of QE, perhaps 1.75%-2.0%.  But I remain confident that at some point, they will respond.  And with inflation showing no signs of abating, it will happen sooner than you think.

What about the rest of the world?  Well, the one thing we know is that neither the ECB nor the BOJ can afford for their currencies to strengthen too much.  While Japan has shown more stoicism lately, I can easily envision Madame Lagarde, in the context of alleged lack of inflationary pressures, pushing the ECB to expand their largesse as well, at least enough to try to offset the Fed.  Will it work?  That, of course, is the $64 trillion question.

On to today’s activity.  Risk is under a bit of pressure this morning after what were truly impressive bond market declines yesterday.  but those declines were not so much risk on, as fear starting to spread.  So, a quick tour of equity markets shows that after a mixed US session, the Nikkei shed 0.6% overnight, although the Hang Seng managed a 1.1% gain.  Shanghai reopens tonight.  In Europe, screens are red wit the DAX (-0.55%) leading the way lower, although the CAC (flat) and the FTSE 100 (-0.1%) are not suffering that greatly.  Meanwhile, at this hour, US futures are essentially unchanged.

Bond yields, which rose sharply around the world yesterday (11bps in the US, 5-8bps throughout Europe) are consolidating a bit.  Treasuries are lower by 1.9 basis points, but they have already backed up from earlier levels.  In Europe, we see the same thing, where early yield declines have been virtually erased.  Bunds are flat, OATs are higher by 0.6bps and Gilts, one of the worst performers yesterday, have seen yields fall 1.0bp, but that is well off the levels earlier this morning. The point is, even if equities are under pressure, funds don’t appear to be flowing into bonds.

Rather, commodities are the market of choice, with oil now above $60/bbl (+1.0%) and base metals higher along with almost all agricultural products.  In fact, the only real laggards here are gold (-0.3%) and silver (-0.5%), which are arguably suffering from higher yields as a competitor.

Finally, the dollar is definitely feeling its oats this morning, rising against all its G10 brethren, with the weakest link SEK (-0.45%), although other than CAD (-0.1%) and JPY (-0.05%), the rest of the bloc is lower by at least 0.3%.  This is a broad dollar strength story, with virtually no idiosyncratic national issues to drive things.  In fact, the only data of note was UK inflation, which printed a tick higher than expected.

Emerging market currencies are similarly under pressure across the board, led lower by ZAR (-0.8%) and MXN (-0.8%), although there is broad weakness in APAC and CE4 currencies as well.  Again, one needn’t look too far afield to determine why these currencies are weak, it is simply a dollar strength day.

On the data front, we start the morning with Retail Sales (exp 1.1%, 1.0% ex autos), move on to IP (0.4%) and Capacity Utilization (74.8%) and finish the afternoon with the FOMC Minutes from the January meeting.  It seems hard to believe that the Minutes will have much impact as there were neither policy shifts nor even dissension in the ranks. Perhaps we will learn if YCC or QE extension has been a discussion topic, which would be hugely bond bullish and dollar bearish.  But I doubt it.

Rather, this dollar rebound, much to my surprise, seems to have a little more behind it and could well extend a bit further.  Looking at the euro, the technicians will focus on 1.2000, the 100-day moving average and 1.1950, the low touched in last week’s sell-off.  But if the Treasury curve continues to steepen, the euro could well move back to the 1.1750 level last seen prior to the US election in November.  That is not my base case, but the probability has certainly grown lately.

Good luck and stay safe