Money More Dear

Next week, though it’s certainly clear
The Fed will price money more dear
The dollar’s incurred
Some selling and spurred
More weakness than seen since last year

The dollar remains under pressure this morning with a number of stories having a separate, but a cumulative impact on the buck. For example, overnight we learned that New Zealand’s GDP grew 1.0% in Q2, higher than the expected 0.7% outcome, and sufficient to get investors and traders to consider that the RBNZ, which just last month promised to maintain record low interest rates until at least 2020, may wind up raising rates sooner than that. A surprise of this nature usually leads to currency strength and so it is this morning with NZD higher by 0.8%.

Or consider the UK, where Retail Sales data surprised one and all by rising 0.3% in August (3.3% Y/Y), a much better performance than expected. This was enough to overcome the ongoing Brexit malaise and drive the pound higher by 0.7% and back to its highest level in two months. In truth, this is somewhat surprising given the quite disappointing outcome from the EU meeting Wednesday night in Brussels. Rather than more positive remarks about the viability of a deal being completed, we heard more of the hard-core negativity from the French and Irish, basically saying if the UK doesn’t cave, then there will be no deal. This is certainly not a welcome outcome, especially since there are only 190 days until Brexit will occur, deal or no. Meanwhile, PM May continues to fight a rearguard action against the avid pro-Brexiters in her party in order to retain her position.

Logically, I look at the situation and believe there is no real chance of a satisfactory deal being agreed on time. Frankly, the Irish border issue is intractable in my view. But given that this is entirely about politics, and the Europeans and British are both famous for kicking the can down the road, I suspect that something along the lines of a pure fudge, with neither side agreeing anything, will be achieved in order to prevent a complete disaster. However, there is a very real probability that the UK will simply leave the EU with no deal of any sort, and if that is the case, the initial market reaction will be for a sharp sell-off in the pound.

Interestingly, despite the fact that the little Eurozone data released was on the soft side, the euro has managed to continue its recent rally and is higher by 0.4% as I type. This seems more of a piece with the general dollar weakness that we have witnessed the past two sessions than anything else.

Another potential conundrum is US interest rates, where 10-year Treasury yields jumped to 3.08% yesterday, their highest level since early May, and now gathering momentum for the breakout that many pundits have been expecting for a while. Remember, short Treasury futures are one of the largest positions in the market. This thought process has been led by two concurrent features; the Fed continues to raise short term rates while the Treasury, due to increased fiscal policy stimulus and a growing budget deficit, will be forced to increase the amount of debt issued. When this is wrapped up with the fact that the Fed is reducing the size of its balance sheet, thus removing the one true price-insensitive bid from the market, it seemed a recipe for much higher 10-year yields. The fact that we remain at 3.08% nine months into the year is quite surprising, at least to me. But it is entirely possible that we see a much more aggressive sell-off in Treasuries going forward, especially if the Fed tweaks their message next week to one that is more hawkish.

In this context, let me give a concrete example of just how important the central bank message really is. This morning, Norgesbank raised interest rates in Norway by 25bps, as was universally expected. This was the first time in 7 years they raised rates, and are doing so because the economy there is expanding rapidly while inflation moves closer to their target. But in their policy discussion, they reduced the forecast pace of future interest rate hikes, surprising everyone, and the result was a sharp decline in NOK. Versus the euro it fell more than 1%, which translated into a 0.7% decline vs. the dollar. The point is the market is highly focused on the policy statements as well as the actual moves.

This is equally true, if not more so, with regard to the Fed. Current expectations are that the Fed will raise rates 25bps next week and another 25bps in December. Where things get cloudier is what next year will look like, and how fast they will continue to tighten policy. It is for this reason that next week’s meeting is so widely anticipated, because the Fed will release its updated dot plot, the effective forecasts of each Fed member as to where Fed funds will be at various points in the future. If the dot plot implies higher rates than the last iteration in June, you can expect the dollar to benefit from the outcome. Any implication of a slower pace of rate hikes will certainly undermine the dollar.

In the end, the mixture of new information has been sufficient to push the dollar lower by 0.3% when looking at the broad dollar index. Interestingly, despite its recent weakness, it remains within the trading range that has defined its movement since it stopped appreciating in April. Frankly, I expect this range trading to continue unless the Fed significantly changes its tune.

This morning brings a bit more data with Initial Claims (exp 210K) and Philly Fed (17.0) due at 8:30 while Existing Home Sales (5.35M) are released at 10:00. Yesterday’s housing data was mixed with New Home Sales rising more than expected, but Building Permits plunging. And remember that both of those data points tend to have a great deal of volatility. With that in mind, looking at the longer term trend shows that while Housing Starts seem to be rebounding from a bad spot, the trend in Permits is clearly downward, which doesn’t speak well for the housing market in the medium term.

In the end, as I wrote yesterday, continued modest dollar weakness seems the most likely outcome for now, but I suspect that we are coming to the end of this soft patch, and that the dollar will find its legs soon. I remain confused as to why there is so much bullishness attached to the Eurozone economy given the data continues to underperform. And there is no indication that the ECB is going to suddenly turn truly hawkish. Current levels strike me as attractive for dollar buyers.

Good luck
Adf

 

Realistic

As far as the market’s concerned
The mood out of Brussels has turned
They’re quite optimistic
A deal is “realistic”
By early November, we’ve learned

Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator for Brexit has lately changed his tune. Last month, ostensibly at the direction of his political masters, he was playing hardball, shooting down every UK proposal as inadequate and saying there was no negotiating room on the EU’s positions. Not surprisingly, the pound came under pressure during this period, trading to its lowest level in more than a year and approaching the post-vote lows. But a funny thing happened during the past week, Europe suddenly figured out they didn’t really want a no-deal Brexit. The first inkling came from comments by German officials who indicated that compromises were available. That changed the tone of the negotiations and suddenly, as I mentioned last week, it seemed that a deal was more likely. Those comments last week helped the pound rally more than 1%. Then yesterday morning Barnier explained that a deal is both “realistic” and “possible” within 6-8 weeks. It should be no surprise that the pound rallied yet again on the news, jumping another 1% during the US session and maintaining those gains ever since.

Regular readers will know that I have been quite bearish on the pound for two reasons; first is the fact that I continue to see the dollar strengthening over the medium term as the Fed’s tighter monetary policy leads all developed nations and will continue to do so. But the other reason was that I have been quite skeptical that a Brexit deal would be agreed and that the initial concern over damage to the UK economy would undermine the currency. However, this change in tone by the EU over Brexit is almost certainly going to have a significant positive impact on the pound’s value vs. both the euro and the dollar. And even though any deal is likely to be short on details, I expect that we will see the pound outperform the euro for the next several months at least. So any dollar strength will be less reflected vs. the pound than the euro, while any dollar weakness should see the pound as the top performer. The thing is, the details of the deal still matter a great deal, and at some point in the future, the UK and the EU are going to need to figure out how they are going to deal with the Irish border situation, even if they have kicked that particular can further down the road for now.

While on the topic of the UK, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the employment situation there remains robust. Unemployment data was released this morning showing the Unemployment Rate remained at 4.0%, the lowest level since 1975, while wage growth accelerated to 2.9%. The latter potentially presages further inflation, as measured productivity in the UK remains quite soft at 1.5% per annum. If this continues, higher wages amid low productivity, the BOE may find itself forced to raise rates regardless of the Brexit situation. Yet another positive for the beleaguered pound. Perhaps the bottom is in after all.

However, away from yesterday’s news on the pound, the FX markets have been quite uninteresting in the past twenty-four hours. Arguably, the dollar is a touch stronger, but the movement has been minute. Even the emerging market bloc has been less active with perhaps the most notable feature the fact that INR continues to trade to new historic lows (dollar highs) every day. As to the group of currencies that has led the turmoil, TRY, ARS and ZAR, all of them are slightly firmer this morning as they continue to consolidate their losses over the past month. In addition, we hear from the central banks of both Argentina (today) and Turkey (tomorrow), with more attention focused on the latter than the former. Recall that Argentine interest rates are already the world’s highest at 60% and no move is anticipated. However, Turkey’s meeting is anxiously awaited as the market is looking for a 300bp rate hike to help stem rising inflation and the currency’s weakness. The problem is that Turkish President Erdogan has been quite adamant that he is strongly against higher interest rates and given his apparent control over the central bank, it is by no means assured that they will act according to the market’s expectations. Be prepared for another leg lower in the lira if the Bank of Turkey disappoints.

As to today’s session, the NFIB Small Business Index was released at 108.8, stronger than expected and a new record high for the release. Despite the trade concerns and the political circus in Washington, small businesses have never been more confident in their future. I will admit that this almost seems like whistling past the graveyard, but for now everything is great. Later this morning we see the JOLTs Job report (exp 6.68M), which should simply reconfirm that the employment situation in the US remains robust.

And that’s really it for today. Equity futures are flat although the 10-year Treasury is continuing its recent trend lower (higher yields), albeit at a slow rate. There is certainly no evidence that the Fed is going to change its path, but for today, it seems unlikely that we will see much movement in either direction beyond what has already occurred. Barring, of course, any surprising new comments.

Good luck
Adf

 

Their Canard

At last both the Germans and Brits
Realized, nations both, would take hits
If Brexit was hard
So now their canard
Is claiming, details, they’ll omit

The tone of the market changed early yesterday afternoon when a story hit the tape about Brexit indicating that both sides had moved closer to finding an agreement. While some might say this is simply a muddle-through effort (and I would be one of those) the facts seem to be that both sides are willing to move forward with far less specificity than had previously been demanded. In a nutshell, the prior stance had called for a Brexit agreement that was explicit as to the solutions for things like the Irish border issue when the UK leaves the EU. In essence, while both sides agree a transition period is necessary, the EU especially, was demanding to know the details of how things would eventually fall out. Of course, the UK couldn’t discuss those given the amount of internal dissention amongst the May government on the issue. But now, the Germans have said that those details could wait until after the March 2019 exit, and that the future trade agreement can be negotiated in more detail then. This opens the door for a more wishy-washy Brexit agreement, which is likely the only type that can be approved by both the UK Parliament and the EU’s 28 other members.

The market impact was immediate with the pound gapping higher by 1% when the story was released, and although it has given back a portion of those gains, it remains higher overall today. The euro, too, jumped at the same time, albeit not quite as far, with an immediate bump of 0.5%, most of which it has retained. The real question, though, seems to be; is this a temporary situation, or has there been a fundamental change in the FX market?

Certainly there is a valid argument that a positive turn in the Brexit negotiations should lead to further pound strength. After all, while the dollar has appreciated a solid 6% against a basket of currencies since April, the pound has fallen more than 10% over that time. It is not unreasonable to assume that the difference is attributable to the steadily deteriorating views on a positive Brexit outcome. If the Brexit situation becomes less fraught, then a rebound in the pound would be a natural outcome. While one day does not make a trend, we will watch this closely going forward.

But aside from the news on Brexit, the main theme in the markets continues to be the ongoing meltdown in EMG currency and equity markets. Yesterday saw some of the worst behavior we have witnessed in this move, and the term contagion was bandied about in many analyses. This morning, things have settled down a bit, and actually we are seeing several of the worst hit currencies claw back a small portion of recent losses. For example, ZAR, which had fallen nearly 6.0% yesterday, is higher by 0.75% this morning. MXN, which lost 2.5% yesterday at its worst, has since regained about half of that with 0.5% coming this morning. Meanwhile, both TRY and ARS, the leaders of the pack when it comes to collapsing currencies, are both higher by a bit over 1% this morning. Of course, relative to their 20+% declines in the past month, this is small beer. However, the point is that the market feels far more stable this morning than yesterday’s situation.

Despite this morning’s stability, though, the broader issues remain. I assure you that neither Turkey nor Argentina have solved their macroeconomic problems. Inflation remains rampant in both nations and will continue to do so for a while. India, Brazil and Indonesia still have large C/A deficits and the Fed has not yet changed its tune. They will raise rates by 25bps later this month, and the odds are still quite high they will do so again in December. This tells me that today’s price action is a breather as traders and investors prepare themselves for tomorrow’s payroll report. Remember, one of the things we learned from Powell’s Jackson Hole speech was that the Fed is closely watching the data and has concerns about an overheating economy. If tomorrow’s data shows higher than expected hourly earnings, or a dip to 3.7% Unemployment, those could well be the signals that add urgency to their tightening process.

Meanwhile, looking ahead to the rest of the US session, we get quite a bit of data as follows:

ADP Employment 190K
Initial Claims 214K
Nonfarm Productivity 3.0%
Unit Labor Costs -0.9%
Factory Orders -0.6%
ISM Non-Manufacturing 56.8

This week’s ISM data was very strong, and the Trade Deficit has blown out as US growth outpaces that of pretty much every other developed nation. So as far as the data story goes, there is no reason to believe that the Fed is going to pause in the near term, despite concerns over the shape of the yield curve. And given that stance, I remain a firm believer in the dollar’s potential. Until the Fed changes its tune, I see no reason to change mine.

Good luck
Adf

Still No Solution

On Wednesday it suddenly seemed
That Brexiteers might be redeemed
The EU’d just hinted
A deal could be printed
Like nothing initially dreamed

But subsequent comments made clear
No breakthrough was actually near
There’s still no solution
(Just feared retribution)
On solving the Irish frontier

Yesterday saw the British pound rocket around 10:00am when EU Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, hinted that there was a chance for a deal with the UK that was different than EU deals with its other near neighbors. The market heard this as the first real attempt at a compromise on the EU side, and so within minutes, the pound was 1.2% higher and back above 1.30 for the first time in almost a month. Certainly, if this is true, it marks a serious breakthrough in the talks and is quite positive. Everything we have heard from the UK so far is that they are willing to adhere to EU rules regarding the trade in goods, but are looking for a different deal in services. Prior to the Barnier comments, the EU had been firm in their stance that it was an all or none decision. Suddenly, it seemed like a deal could occur. On that basis, the pound’s rally certainly makes sense, as the prospects for a no-deal Brexit had lately been clearly weighing on the pound. Alas, subsequent comments by the EU have poured cold water on this thought process as Barnier has reiterated there is no ability to cherry-pick the preferred parts of EU policy. Interestingly, the pound has barely given back any of the gains it managed in the wake of the first statement, as it is actually down less than 0.1% as I type.

Given the data released earlier this morning, which was not all that positive (Consumer Credit declined more than expected, Mortgage Lending declined much more than expected and Mortgage Approvals fell more than expected) it seems hard to justify the ongoing strength of the pound. Two possible explanations are 1) the market had built up significant short positions in the pound and while yesterday’s sharp rally forced covering, nobody has looked to reinstate them yet, or 2) investors and traders continue to believe that the UK will get a special deal and so further weakness in the pound is not warranted. Occam’s Razor would suggest that the first explanation is the correct one, as the second one would seem to require magical thinking. And while there is plenty of magical thinking going around, financial markets are one place where it is difficult to retain those thoughts and survive. My gut tells me that once the Labor Day holiday has passed, we will see the pound start to sell off once again.

The other noteworthy story this morning is that there is even more stress in those emerging market currencies that have been feeling stressed during the past month. Today it is Argentina’s turn to lead the way lower, with the peso falling an impressive 7.5% after President Macri announced that he had asked the IMF to speed up disbursements of the $50 billion credit line. The market saw that as desperation, which is probably correct despite strenuous denials by the Argentine government. Meanwhile, the Turkish lira is down by 3.5% because…well just because. After all, nothing has changed there and until the central bank starts to focus monetary policy on solving the nation’s problems, TRY will continue to fall. Overnight we saw INR fall to a new historic low, down 0.4% and now pushing to 71.00, albeit not quite there yet. ZAR is under pressure this morning, down nearly 2% as its current account deficit situation is seen as a significant weight. And despite the positive of completing NAFTA negotiations with the US, MXN has fallen 0.5%. So while the dollar is generally little changed vs. its G10 counterparts, the stress in the EMG bloc remains palpable. Ultimately, I expect the dollar to resume its uptrend, but not until next week, after the holiday.

As to this morning’s data, after yesterday’s upward revision of Q2 GDP, all eyes are on the PCE data this morning. Expectations run as follows: Initial Claims (214K); Personal Income (0.3%); Personal Spending (0.4%); PCE (0.1%, 2.2% Y/Y); and Core PCE (0.2%, 2.0% Y/Y). Again, the biggest market reaction is likely to be caused by an unexpected outturn in Core PCE, which is the number most Fed members seem to regard as the key. A high print should support the dollar, as the implication will be the Fed may be forced to tighten more aggressively, while a low print should undermine the buck as traders back off on their estimates of how quickly the Fed acts. Remember, many traders and investors took Powell’s Jackson Hole speech as dovish, although I’m not so sure that is an accurate take.

At any rate, that pretty much sums up the day. I will be on vacation starting tomorrow and thus there will be no poetry until September 5th.

Thanks and have a good holiday weekend
Adf

A Torch Song

As summer meanders along
Two stories are still going strong
In China the yuan
Is just hanging on
While Brexit’s become a torch song

Last night was yet another session of modest activity in foreign exchange as market participants’ focused on the same two stories that have been hogging the headlines for months; Brexit and its fallout on the pound; and China and the deteriorating trade situation. In fact, there is one other story that gets some press, the collapsing Turkish lira, but given the fact that TRY is a relatively inconsequential currency in the broad scheme of things, it is sufficient to know that the problems there are unlikely to get better soon, but also unlikely to have a wider impact on markets.

Let’s start with China today. Last night’s trade data showed that their surplus shrank substantially, to $28B, as imports surged more than 27% while export growth was a more modest 12%. At the same time, their surplus with the US fell only slightly, from $28.9B to $28.1B. It is the latter data that has been driving the current US trade policy, and the modest improvement seems unlikely to change anything. Already, tariffs on the next $16B are set to be put in place in two weeks’ time, and the list of products for the following grouping of $200B is being finalized and tariffs could be imposed as soon as September 6th. The Chinese have not yet blinked, but by all accounts, the situation in the Chinese economy is starting to get a bit more concerning.

The PBOC has flooded the market there with liquidity as evidenced by the fact that Chinese interest rates across the curve have fallen to the lowest levels seen in more than three years. (If you recall three years ago was when the PBOC instituted their ‘mini-devaluation’ in the yuan, which led to massive capital outflows and forced them to spend in excess of $1 trillion of reserves defending the yuan.) Regardless of the fact that those capital controls remain in place, it is pretty clear that money is flowing out of China right now. The question is, will those flows increase to a more troubling level forcing more aggressive PBOC action? Interestingly, a recent survey of traders and economists showed a strong belief that the PBOC will be able to contain CNY weakness and there is limited expectation for the currency to weaken beyond 7.00. Adding to this view, last night the PBOC called the major banks into a meeting and ‘encouraged’ them to insure their clients don’t become caught up in the “herd behavior” of selling yuan. This verbal suasion is in addition to their recent re-imposition of excess capital requirements for short CNY forward positions as well as the PBOC’s significantly increased activity in the FX swaps market, where they have sold so many dollars forward that the points have fallen to a discount, despite the fact that a pure interest rate calculation would put them at a substantial premium. As powerful as the PBOC is, and as much control as they exert over the currency, the market is still bigger than they are. If the Chinese population fears that the yuan is going to weaken further, they will find ways to get their money out of China, and it will be a self-fulfilling event. The benefit for hedgers is that with one-year USDCNY forwards at a discount, hedging assets and receivables is now very cost effective.

Turning to the UK and the ongoing Brexit story, there actually seems to have been little new in the way of news overnight. However, just before NY walked in, the pound extended its losses and is now down more than 0.5% on the day and trading at one year lows. The problem for the pound is that as the timeline leading to Brexit shrinks, no news is no longer good news. The lack of activity is an indication that the probability of a no-deal Brexit is growing, and as I have written several times recently, if there is no deal, the pound is likely to fall sharply. In fact, at this point in time, there is probably a short-term risk that the pound can move sharply higher in response to something positive in this process. For example, if the EU were to soften its stance, or make a serious accommodation, the pound could easily rise a few percent on the news. However, that doesn’t seem very likely, at least based on anything that has been reported in the past several weeks.

Beyond those stories, though, there is precious little to discuss. Yesterday, as expected, the JOLTs report showed that there are many jobs available in the US, 6.66M to be exact, which is simply in line with the strong employment situation that we all know exists. Today, however, there is no new data to absorb, and really, until Friday’s CPI, the FX market will be looking elsewhere for catalysts. My sense is that the trade story will remain the single biggest driver, and that it still points to a stronger dollar for now. Keep that in mind as you look ahead.

Good luck
Adf

Ere Brexit’s Birthday

The UK Prime Minister May
Is seeking an outcome one day
Where Europe realizes
That some compromises
Are needed ere Brexit’s birthday

It has been a painfully quiet FX market overnight with very limited new information crossing the tapes. Lately, the biggest market moves have been seen in the Turkish lira, which after falling nearly 5% yesterday has rebounded just under 2% today. The thing is that Turkey’s importance in the broad scheme of the market is so marginal, it is tiresome to mention too frequently. And let’s face it; as long as President Erdogan is running things, this situation is unlikely to improve.

Arguably the only other noteworthy story overnight is the continued angst in the UK over International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox’s comments about the increasing probability of a hard Brexit. Certainly the analyst community all jumped on the bandwagon yesterday with regard to the discussion, but in the end, there is still precious little movement in the negotiations. There was a Bloomberg article this morning that was quite disconcerting, at least if you want to see a deal put in place. It basically hypothesized that PM May was counting on an increased willingness by the EU to compromise in order that the bloc may show a unified stance to President Trump at the G20 meeting scheduled for November in Buenos Aires. That seems pretty thin gruel for negotiating tactics and doesn’t sound like a winning play to me, but then I’m not a politician.

Reviewing the key issues outstanding, I still don’t see how the Irish border situation can be resolved effectively. Northern Ireland demands that there is no ‘hard’ border between themselves and Ireland, but as that will now be the only land border between the UK and the EU, something will be necessary to insure the proper movement of people and goods between nations. (Perhaps they can use the Shrodinger’s Cat model, where the border simultaneously does and doesn’t exist until someone looks to cross it.) In effect, one side is going to have to cave in, and right now, neither side is willing to do so. As long as this remains the case, I maintain that a hard Brexit is the most likely outcome and that the pound has further to fall.

But away from that, there is just not much to discuss. The dollar, overall, is slightly softer, giving back some of its recent gains, but that remains trading activity not news driven movement. Data has been sparse with soft German IP offset by ongoing strong trade data the most noteworthy Eurozone prints. The RBA left rates on hold, as universally expected, although perhaps the statement was seen as a bit more hawkish than anticipated as the Aussie dollar is actually today’s top performer in the G10, rising 0.6%. But after that, there is nothing to note.

And quite frankly, the only thing on the calendar this morning in the US is the JOLTs Jobs Report, which is simply going to show that the employment situation in the US remains quite strong. But we know that already and it was reconfirmed last Friday with the payroll report.

All told, it is shaping up to be an uninspiring day in the FX markets. Given we have seen some pretty steady strength in the dollar for the past week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this morning’s mild weakness extend further. But I wouldn’t read any long-term thoughts into a day with low volumes where prices are correcting.

Good luck
Adf

Turning To Fearing

The deadline for Brexit is nearing
And hoping is turning to fearing
No deal’s yet in sight
But both sides delight
In claiming that they’re persevering

This morning, the two stories that have captured the FX market’s attention are Brexit and its impact on the pound and Chinese policy changes and their impact on the yuan.

Starting in the UK, the pound is under pressure this morning, down 0.55%, as comments from International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, have rattled traders. According to Fox, the odds that there is no Brexit deal have now risen to 60%, certainly enough to qualify as “uncomfortably high”, Governor Carney’s description last week in his comments following the BOE meeting. It appears that both sides remain committed to their positions and there has been very little movement from either London or Brussels of late. Meanwhile, in the UK, the politics of the situation has resulted in the new favorite pastime of guessing who will replace PM May when she finally loses a no-confidence vote. And while March 31 is the technical deadline, the reality is that if there is no agreement in place by October, it is likely to be too late. Remember that once an agreement is reached, it needs to be enacted into law by all the nations in the EU as well as the UK, with any one of them able to derail the process. Last year I posited that the odds of reaching a deal were extremely low. I believe this is exactly what is playing out now.

The consequences for the pound are unlikely to be pretty. I expect that we will see pressure continue to increase as it becomes clear that there is no deal forthcoming. So unlike the market action right after the initial Brexit vote in June 2016, where the pound fell more than 10% overnight, and shed another 10% in the ensuing four months, I expect that this will be steady downward pressure, although the net 20% decline cannot be ruled out. After all, there will be no announcement that talks have ended, merely a lack of progress to be seen. Consider that a further 20% decline from here will put the historic low level of 1.06, set back in 1985, on the radar. And while that may well be too pessimistic, it remains extremely difficult to make a bullish pound case at this time. Unless we see a negotiating breakthrough in the next month or so, hedgers need to be prepared for a much lower pound over time.

Turning to China, late Friday night the PBOC imposed a new restriction on FX trading by reinstituting a 20% reserve requirement against short yuan forward positions. The idea here is that Chinese banks will not be willing to allocate the funds necessary to maintain those positions, and therefore will not allow clients to sell CNY forward. In 2015, during the last CNY devaluation, when capital outflows really gathered pace, this was one of the tools that the PBOC employed to stem the yuan’s weakness. What this tells me is that despite the rhetoric from the government about the trade situation and their willingness to tough it out, there is growing concern that if USDCNY reaches 7.00, citizens will start to become much more aggressive in their efforts to reduce their exposure to the yuan, and flee to other, safer currencies. Ironically, given what has started this process, this includes the dollar as well as the yen and Swiss franc. As is typical of the Chinese, they announced this change late Friday night when markets were closed. And while the initial market reaction to the news in China’s morning was for the yuan to strengthen a bit, that strength has reversed and USDCNY is now higher by 0.25%. If 7.00 is truly the pain point, I fear we are going to see some fireworks before the end of the summer.

Beyond those two stories, the dollar is firmer overall, but there is less specificity than it simply being a strong dollar day. The euro is lower by 0.25% after German Factory Orders fell a much worse than expected -4.0%, taking the Y/Y level negative for the first time in two years. But given the breadth of the dollar’s strength this morning, I would argue the euro would have declined no matter the number. As the trade rhetoric continues apace, I expect the dollar to remain well bid against all comers.

Turning to the data this week, it is far less interesting than last week’s onslaught, but we do end the week with CPI.

Tuesday JOLT’s Job Openings 6.646M
  Consumer Credit $16.0B
Thursday Initial Claims 220K
  PPI 0.2% (3.4% Y/Y)
  -ex food & energy 0.2% (2.8% Y/Y)
Friday CPI 0.2% (3.0% Y/Y)
  -ex food & energy 0.2% (2.3% Y/Y)

Beyond the inflation data, we have only two Fed Speakers, and given the continued strong run of data, it remains hard to believe that we will hear any new dovishness by anyone. I am hard-pressed to derive a scenario that leads to significant dollar weakness in the short run. Until the US data turns, I believe that the Fed will continue to tighten policy and that the dollar will benefit. And that seems likely to last through at least the end of the year.

Good luck
Adf