Weekly Market Update 19/04/21
England returned to two of its favourite occupations last week, shopping and socialising over a drink, as lockdown measures were eased. Despite the miserable weather, crowds were seen spending their savings and, in doing so, giving a much-needed boost to the economy. With COVID-19 cases decreasing in the UK, overseas investors were encouraged to buy sterling towards the end of the week, and it has indeed opened stronger this morning at $1.3850, nearly a two-cent increase over the week. Robust US data on employment and retail sales also helped sterling as it weakened the dollar. The pound also fared well against the euro, despite a midweek dip, it gained half a euro cent over the week.
After a week dominated by US data and the Federal Reserve's policy, we pause for breath this week as the US central bank goes into a speech blackout ahead of its next meeting on 28th April. Our focus now turns to Europe and the monthly meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB has been supporting the European economies for over a year but now faces the fresh problem of keeping yields low as US yields rise. If interest rates rise on longer-dated maturities, this could cause issues for southern European countries with the twin problems of an increasing debt burden and another summer without tourists. Domestically we will be watching for further political developments over former Prime Minister David Cameron's lobbying. We have plenty of domestic data to study this week, including the inflation numbers for February, published on Wednesday, and unemployment data on Tuesday.
Sterling rode a roller coaster last week against the euro, as traders started to take a more optimistic view of the single currency. The fresh buying had the effect of pushing sterling just below €1.1500 at one point before it recovered to €1.1580 where it has opened this morning. Sterling was also hit by vaccine concerns and the resignation of the Bank of England's Chief Economist, Andy Haldane, who was widely regarded as hawkish on policy. Some investors took his resignation as a sign of disagreement in the Bank of England over letting sterling drift as a post-Brexit policy to help exporters. A busy week ahead on data releases starts tomorrow with the February Unemployment numbers. The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) is released on Wednesday, which should bounce from its low February level. On Friday, March Retail Sales are published along with flash the April Purchasing Manager Indexes (PMIs) for manufacturing. These are expected to be strong as companies restock ahead of further reopening. We will also be listening for any hints on policy when Bank of England Governor, Andrew Bailey, speaks on Wednesday and from his cohort Dave Ramsden.
Last week, the euro rallied against the dollar and has opened this morning at €1.1950. The overriding pessimism receded, and traders in the derivative markets adjusted their positions, strengthening the single currency, ahead of the ECB meeting on Thursday. With extended lockdowns still affecting much of the continent, they are likely to maintain an accommodative stance on their emergency bond purchase scheme, capping any rise in interest rates, which is in sharp contrast to the US, where the Federal Reserve is apparently happy to let yields rise. Also, of concern to the ECB will be continuing slow progress of the €750bln EU recovery fund, which is still held up in the German courts. Apart from the ECB meeting and press conference on Thursday, there is not much on the data docket apart from April's Consumer Confidence on the same day and Markit's early snapshot of April's PMIs on Friday.
The direction of the dollar was again set mainly by the movement of US Treasury yields last week, which had marched up the hill then promptly turned around and eased back down. The move back down caught many investors and traders off guard, especially after such strong employment and retail sales data had been released. There was no clear catalyst for the price action, and this will keep traders on their toes in the week ahead, as will the ongoing geopolitical tensions, especially those with Russia over Ukraine. A tranquil week looks in prospect in the US with the Federal Reserve on speech blackout until its next meeting on 28th April. The only significant data to look forward to will be the weekly employment data on Thursday and, in common with the rest of the world, the first look at April's PMI data.
The Swedish krona made a big comeback last week, strengthening considerably against most G10 currencies. The main catalyst behind this was the better than expected CPI figures coming in at 1.7%. In other words, not far off from the Riksbank target and primary goal of 2%. Furthermore, what assisted the Swedish krona was the lack of other macro data releases and comments from the Riksbank (yes, sometimes no news, is good news). This week sees no important data releases, and we will monitor the key resistance levels closely along with any updated technical analysis studies.
EURNOK is hovering above a key resistance and psychological level of 10.0000. Otherwise, the Norwegian krone had a quiet week finishing stronger than it started. This week sees no important data releases from Norway either, which means we turn our attention to the EUR, the number of vaccinations, and any indication that this summer will see holiday travel resume remembering that the oil price heavily influences the Norwegian krone.