The idea that the Federal Reserve would tolerate higher inflation to compensate for the undershoot would on its face be dollar negative. Make no mistake about it. After a wobble, the dollar fell. It recorded new lows for the year against the British pound, Australian dollar, and Swedish krona ahead of the weekend. New lows for the month recorded against the Canadian dollar and Norwegian krone. The euro and yen flirted with the edges but remained within their well-worn ranges.
It is the interest rate markets that saw a more nuanced response. The implied yield of the December 2022 Eurodollar futures contract rose 1.5 bp last week. The five-year yield also rose (less than a basis point), as the Fed signaled it would be more accepting of an inflation overshoot as a type of forward guidance meant to underscore its commitment to keep rates low for the foreseeable future. The long-end of the curve backed up, with the 10-year yield rising 10 bp, and the 30-year yield increased 13 bp. However, the upside momentum was unsustainable, and yields pulled back from their best levels ahead of the weekend despite stronger than expected income, consumption, and deflator numbers.
Dollar Index: Ahead of the weekend, the Dollar Index approached the two-year low set in the middle of the month near 92.00. There was no meaningful bounce, and the broad sideways movement seen in the past few weeks has alleviated the over-extended momentum indicators. A break of 92.00 would set the stage to test the 91.00 area, which has more technical significance. It is also the initial (38.2%) retracement of the rally in the Dollar Index from the historic lows in 2009 (~70.70). A move above 93.50 is needed to neutralize the negative technical tone.
Euro: Here in August, the euro has traded above $1.19 in six sessions and closed above it exactly twice and once was before the weekend. Perhaps it is a question of market positioning, where speculators in the futures market had amassed a record-long gross and net position and extended it further in the week ending August 25. The broad, sideways movement in recent weeks ($1.17-$1.19) has seen the momentum indicators trend lower, but the firmer tone in recent days has steadied the MACD and Slow Stochastic, which now appear poised to turn higher. The upper Bollinger® Band will begin the new week near $1.1925. A close above $1.20, is probably needed to signal a breakout. Support appears to have been carved around $1.1755-$1.1760 area.
Japanese Yen: The combination of the FOMC and Abe’s resignation saw the dollar transverse nearly its entire month’s range (~JPY105-JPY107) ahead of the weekend. Momentum traders have been whipsawed. The outside up day on August 27 was followed by an outside down day on August 28. The momentum indicators are not particularly helpful now. The dollar spiked to about JPY104.20 at the end of July, which was a four-month low and that is the obvious target on a break of JPY105.00, but the measuring objective of the chart pattern may be closer to JPY103.00.
British Pound: Sterling motored to new highs for the year ahead of the weekend a little above $1.3350. It has not ended a month above $1.33 since April 2018. The strong close leaves it in good shape to continue its run (three consecutive weeks and it has only fallen in two weeks here in Q3). While the MACD is uninspiring, the Slow Stochastic is turning higher after correcting from over-extended levels. The next important technical area is near $1.35. A caveat is it closed well above its upper Bollinger Band (~$1.3280).
Canadian Dollar: Nothing has been able to derail the greenback’s steady decline against the Canadian dollar, which has now been stretched into the seventh consecutive week. It has risen in one week here in Q3 and that was by about 0.3%. The US dollar pushed through CAD1.3050 briefly to fall to its lowest level since January, but it recovered a traced out a possible bullish hammer candlestick. The long downtrend has left the momentum indicators stretched and do not appear to have confirmed the pre-weekend low. The downtrend line from March’s high will begin the new month near CAD1.3215. Only a break of this trend line is noteworthy, while CAD1.3000 has psychological significance and about CAD1.2985 is $0.7700. The lower Bollinger Band begins next week near CAD1.3080.
Australian Dollar: The Aussie was nearly flat coming into the start of last week and it gained almost 2.6% in the five-day rally that lifted it to almost $0.7360. It has not been at such levels since mid-December 2018. The next important technical objective is near $0.7500. It has fallen in only one week of the past 10 and that was by less than 0.2%. The Slow Stochastic corrected and is now turning higher. The MACD appears to be turning higher from its lowest level in a couple of months. On the other hand, the Australian dollar closed well above it upper Bollinger Band (~$0.7290), which also looks to be initial chart support.
Mexican Peso: The dollar appeared to have staged a key upside reversal on August 27 in the aftermath of the Fed’s statement. However, as cooler heads prevailed, the prospect of a faster-growing US economy and a softer inflation target by the Fed was understood to be good for emerging market currencies in general. The JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index rallied a little more than 1% before the weekend, the most in a month. Its 1.5% gain for the week was the largest in nearly three months. The dollar lost about 1.4% against the peso ahead of the weekend to ensure its third consecutive weekly decline. The next target is the June low near MXN21.4650, around where the 200-day moving average is also found. The technical indicators offer little insight. Resistance is seen near MXN22.20.
Chinese Yuan: The dollar fell nearly 0.8% against the Chinese yuan last week. It has fallen in all but one week here in Q3. We had thought Chinese officials would have resisted more strongly the persistent demand for the yuan, which is at its strongest level since January. The dollar closed a gap left on the charts from the higher opening on January 21 near CNY6.8670. The low for the year was set the previous day near CNY6.84. Technically, the CNY6.80-CNY6.82 would appear to offer support. It represents a retracement objective of the rally from the March 2018 low around CNY6.24 and the 200-day moving average.
Gold: The pre-weekend rally of about 1.3% prevented gold from falling for the third consecutive week. After testing $1900 in the middle of the week, gold rebounded initially in response to the Fed’s statement. It made it to almost $1977 before dramatically reversing back to $1910 before catching the bid ahead of the weekend that carried to nearly $1974. In the waning hours of activity, support was found ahead of $1960. Both the Slow Stochastic and MACD have corrected lower and now appear poised to turn higher. Initial resistance is in the $1995-$2000 range and then $2015.
Oil: The price of October WTI continues to trade broadly sideways in the $42-$43.50 range. It has progressed sufficiently for the contract to flirt with its 200-day moving average (~$43.15) without the kind of momentum that would usually signal a further advance. That said, October crude oil prices rose by about 1.5% to post the fourth consecutive weekly increase. A year ago, oil was a fifth higher.
US Rates: The US 10-year yields pulled back a couple of basis points ahead of the weekend to stop the four-day increase. Still, on the week, the 10-year yield rose 10 bp to around 73 bp, having traded a little above 78 bp. The 30-year yield edged up before the weekend to complete the fifth session higher. It reached 1.57%, the highest in a couple of months before settling back a little above 1.51%. The September futures note tested the (50%) retracement of the rally from the June low around 138-22 at the end of last week and bounced off it. Are long-term interest rates on the rise? The technicals suggest otherwise. That said, the 10-year breakeven (spread between the conventional and inflation-linked bonds) rose to 1.77 bp, the most since April. Other market-based measures of inflation expectations are also elevated. The University of Michigan’s survey for 5-10-year inflation was confirmed at 2.7% in August, matching the high for the year.
S&P 500: The S&P 500 gapped higher to start the week and never looked back. The benchmark rose every day last week to bring its streak to seven sessions. The 3.1% rally was the biggest weekly rally of the month. As we have seen with some of the currencies, the S&P 500 has only fallen in one week over the past two months. It began the week gapping above 3400 and finished the week poking above 3500 for the first time, which is just above the upper Bollinger Band. The trendline off the secondary low in March begins next week near 3400, which is also the bottom of the gap created by Monday’s higher opening.