February 18, 2023
EUR/USD: The Fed Doesn't Hinder the US Economy
- January data released on Tuesday, February 14 showed that the US Federal Reserve's victory over inflation is still very, very far away. The core Consumer Price Index (CPI) remained unchanged on a monthly basis at +0.4%. At the same time, although the annual data were slightly lower than the previous value: +6.4% against +6.5%, they exceeded the forecast of +6.2%. Another portion of American statistics came out the next day, February 15. After two months of decline, retail sales in the US showed the highest growth rate in almost 2 years, jumping from -1.1% in December to +3.0% in January (against the forecast of +1.8%).
The initial reaction to this was the strengthening of the dollar (the DXY index reached 104.1 points, the maximum since January 09), and a sharp drop in stock indices. Market participants decided that such macro statistics will force the Fed to further tighten monetary policy actively. If the peak value of the interest rate was predicted at 4.9% in early February with a subsequent decrease by 50 basis points (bp) by the end of the year, the peak is seen now at 5.25%, and a possible decrease only by 25 b.p. in 2023. At the same time, the probability that the rate will be increased three more times, in March, May and June, is 50%.
As already mentioned, the strengthening of the dollar and the sharp fall in stock indices was the first reaction of the market. But then there was an equally sharp reversal and the return of investor risk appetite. Stock indices went up. The market decided that if the US economy coped with the most aggressive interest rate hike in decades quite easily, it would cope with it in the future. Not only retail sales, but also other economic indicators show a convincing rise at the moment. Thus, employment grew by an impressive 517K new jobs, and the country's GDP, according to the leading indicator from the Atlanta Fed, may grow not by 2.2%, but by 2.4% in Q1 2023.
Then the market sentiment changed again. Another piece of statistics showed that the number of Americans who filed new applications for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly, while producer prices (PPI) rose to a 7-month high in January. In this situation, market expectations regarding the further cycle of monetary restriction have again increased. S&P500, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq headed south together, while DXY headed north to a six-week high of 104.58. After that, on the eve of a long weekend in the US, the Dollar Index fell again to 103.85 points.
EUR/USD reacted accordingly to the volatile DXY fluctuations. As a result, having started last week at 1.0679, it ended it at 1.0694, that is, with almost zero results. At the time of writing the review (evening of February 17), 80% of analysts expect further strengthening of the dollar, 10% expect the strengthening of the euro, and the remaining 10% have taken a neutral position.
This time, the readings of the oscillators on D1 coincide with the opinion of analysts almost completely. 80% of them are colored red (20% signal that the pair is oversold), the remaining 20% are colored gray neutral. Among trend indicators, 60% recommend selling, 40% - buying. The nearest support for the pair is located in the zone 1.0600-1.0620, then there are levels and zones, 1.0560, 1.0500, 1.0440 and 1.0370-1.0400. The bulls will meet resistance in the area of 1.0700-1.0710, 1.0745-1.0760, 1.0800, 1.0865, 1.0895-1.0925, 1.0985-1.1030, 1.1110, after which they will try to gain a foothold in the 1.1260-1.1360 echelon.
The events of the coming week include the publication of business activity indicators (PMI) in Germany and the Eurozone on Tuesday, February 21. The value of the German Harmonized Consumer Price Index (CPI) will become known on Wednesday, February 22. Also on this day, the minutes of the last FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting will be published late in the evening. Volatility will be provided by data on inflation (CPI) of the Eurozone, as well as on unemployment and US GDP, on Thursday, February 23. We will find out German GDP indicators and statistics on consumer spending by American citizens at the very end of the working week, on Friday, February 24. Traders also need to keep in mind that Monday, February 20 is a day off in the US: the country celebrates President's Day.
GBP/USD: BoE Could Crash the Pound
- The pound tried to win back part of its losses at the beginning of last week. GBP/USD, having bounced off the level of 1.2030 on February 13, reached a two-week high of 1.2270 the next day. Then, along with other currencies included in the DXY Index, the pound began to retreat against the dollar. As a result, the local minimum was fixed at 1.1915. This was followed by a return to the initial positions and GBP/USD ended the week at 1.2040.
Neither Inflation data nor data on unemployment in the UK helped the British currency (CPI fell to +10.1% in January against the forecast of +10.3% and +10.5% in December). The market also ignored retail sales statistics, although they rose by +0.5% in January against the forecast of -0.3% and the previous result of -1.2%. The news that the UK and the EU have achieved good results in the protracted Brexit negotiations did not have a noticeable effect on the dynamics of the pound either.
Much more important for the quotes of the British currency was macro statistics from the US, as well as expectations that the Bank of England (BoE) may soon reach the end of the rate hike cycle. “The Bank of England is clearly concerned that a significant rate hike could slow down the economy too much,” Commerzbank economists wrote, explaining their bearish view of GBP's prospects, and colleagues from Singapore's United Overseas Bank agreed, according to them GBP/USD may retest the 1.1900 level in the near future.
If we talk about the median forecast of experts, 70% of them vote for the further weakening of the pound, 10% prefer to refrain from forecasts. Only 20% of analysts vote for the strengthening of the pound and the growth of the pair. Among the trend indicators on D1, the balance of power is 85% to 15% in favor of the reds. Reds have a 100% advantage among oscillators. Support levels and zones for the pair are 1.1990-1.2025, 1.1960, 1.1900-1.1915, 1.1840, 1.1800, 1.1720 and 1.1600. When the pair moves north, it will face resistance at the levels 1.2085, 1.2145, 1.2185-1.2210, 1.2270, 1.2335, 1.2390-1.2400, 1.2430-1.2450, 1.2510, 1.2575-1.2610, 1.2700, 1.2750 and 1.2940.
As far as the UK economy is concerned, Tuesday February 21 is of interest on the calendar for the upcoming week, when the country's business activity statistics (PMI) are released.
USD/JPY: Hopes for QT Remain
- “The Japanese government has chosen Academician Kazuo Ueda as the new head of the Central Bank based on expectations of a stable inflation target along with a structural increase in wages,” said Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki. And it doesn't seem that this choice went in favor of the Japanese currency. Having started the week at 131.39, USD/JPY fixed a local high at 135.15, and set the last chord of the five-day period at 134.17.
Recall that 71-year-old Kazuo Ueda, a former professor at the University of Tokyo, joined the board of governors of BOJ a quarter of a century ago, in April 1998, and remained there until April 2005. Back in 2000, Ueda spoke out against the Central Bank's abandonment of the zero-rate policy. It seems that even now he will not rush to curtail the ultra-soft monetary policy. This is confirmed by Ueda himself, who stated on February 10 that the current policy of the regulator is adequate, and that it is necessary to continue to adhere to it.
Despite such statements, the question of what this policy will be like under the new leader remains open at the moment. The majority of experts (60%) have taken a wait-and-see attitude. 15% are counting on the growth of USD/JPY in the near future, and 25% expect it to fall. If we talk about a three-month perspective, only 10% of analysts talk about a further weakening of the Japanese currency, 25% are still neutral, but 65% are waiting for tightening monetary policy (QT) and strengthening the yen, contrary to the statements of Kazuo Ueda.
For example, Danske Bank economists predict that the USD/JPY rate will fall and reach 125.00 in three months. A similar position is shared by strategists at BNP Paribas Research. “We expect the strength of the US dollar to end up short-lived,” they say. “We believe that the US dollar has entered a multi-year bearish trend, and portfolio flows are becoming increasingly negative for the currency.” BNP Paribas predicts that positive yields in Japan could encourage the repatriation of funds by local investors, as a result of which USD/JPY will fall to 121.00 by the end of 2023.
Among the oscillators on D1, 100% points north (15% of them are in the overbought zone). For trend indicators, 75% look north, and 25% look in the opposite direction. The nearest level of support is located in zone 134.00, followed by levels and zones 133.60, 132.80-133.20, 131.85-132.00, 131.25 130.50, 129.70-130.00, 128.90-129.00, 128.50, 127.75-128.10, 127.00-127.25 and 125.00. Levels and resistance zones are 134.40, 134.75-135.10, 135.60, 136.00, 137.50, 139.35, 140.60, 143.75.
No important macro data on the state of the Japanese economy is expected this week. In addition, it must be borne in mind that Thursday, February 23, is a day off in Japan, the country celebrates the Emperor's Birthday.
CRYPTOCURRENCIES: Five Reasons for BTC's Growth
- The topic of regulating the cryptocurrency market has been getting louder and louder since last spring. Many influencers argue that one can count on a massive influx of funds from institutional investors only if a clear regulatory framework is in place. Here is just one of the latest statements by MicroStrategy co-founder Michael Saylor. “What is really needed,” he said, “is oversight. [...] Clear guidance from Congress is needed. We need clear rules of conduct from the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) of the United States.” And it must be said that such calls from representatives of big capital respond to the minds and actions of government officials. For example, Senator Elizabeth Warren is already actively recruiting conservative Republicans in the US Senate to support her bills, which significantly tighten the regulation of the crypto industry.
We note that the tragic events of 2022, caused by the collapse of a number of leading representatives of the industry, caused a sharp surge in the activity of US supervisory authorities. And the regulators began to work with redoubled energy this year. To begin with, they attacked the Kraken crypto exchange, which was actually banned from providing staking services. But the truck did not stop there and ran into the infrastructure company Paxos, which is responsible for issuing USDP, PAXG and Binance BUSD stablecoin. This is an investigation launched by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) against this company. The regulator later ordered the firm to stop issuing the BUSD stablecoin. The SEC also announced its readiness to sue Paxos.
This situation led to a massive outflow of funds from the stablecoin. Many users have started exchanging BUSD for USDT. But it's still half the trouble. Some frightened users simply decided to leave Binance. On February 14 alone, the net outflow of funds from this exchange amounted to $831 million, a record since the collapse of FTX.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao responded to pressure from the US authorities by calling on industry participants to consider moving to another country. He considers Dubai (UAE), Bahrain and France to be jurisdictions with favorable regulation. The CEO of Binance was supported by Uniswap founder Hayden Adams. “It's a shame to watch the US efforts in the cryptosphere,” he wrote. “Innovative companies get an additional incentive to go abroad. It’s as if the government banned the development of the Internet 30 years ago.”
Surprisingly, against this frankly negative background, the price of bitcoin went up, reaching $25.241 on February 16. The last time BTC/USD climbed this high was in mid-August 2022. There have been several reasons for the current rally.
The first of these, paradoxically, is the mentioned attack by the NYFDS and SEC on Kraken and Paxos. US regulators treat PoS coins as toxic assets due to passive income from staking (expectation of profit). Based on this, such coins can receive the status of a security, with all the ensuing legal consequences. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is still the result of the work of miners, which allows it to avoid (at least for now) a similar fate. The network hashrate continues to set records.
Another driver for the growth (and subsequent fall) of digital “gold” quotes is its correlation with the stock market ( S&P500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq).
The third reason is that the main cryptocurrency was oversold in 2022, which caused the average production cost to fall below the market price. And most of the miners were forced to sell off BTC stocks in order to cover operating costs and ensure payments on accounts payable.
The next reason is the Ordinals protocol launched at the end of January, which allows not only to conduct financial transactions in the bitcoin network, but also to transfer any digital objects, including images, audio and video files. The launch of this protocol also resulted in an increase in network activity. The number of non-zero wallets set a new record, and miners received $876,000 in additional income in the form of commissions in less than a month.
The beginning of the BTC rally forced short-term speculators to close short positions, which further stimulated the growth of bitcoin. And that was reason number five.
According to Glassnode specialists, the current fair value of the flagship cryptocurrency is $33,000. This is the figure bitcoin should aim for. A similar figure of $30,000 is cited by Kaleo, a popular analyst with 563,000 Twitter followers. His forecast for the leading altcoin was also quite optimistic. According to Kaleo calculations, the target level for ETH/USD is located in the $3,000 area. Former Goldman Sachs CEO Raoul Pal also gave his forecast for ethereum, setting a target price of this coin around $10,000. Although, such growth will take more time of course.
If we talk about a three-year horizon, according to well-known analyst Willy Woo, the number of users of the first cryptocurrency will grow from the current over 300 million to 1 billion during this time. This will approximately correspond to 12% of the world's population. Willy Woo recalled that it took six months for bitcoin to form an audience of the first 1,000 users. It took five years for that number to rise to 1 million. The network achieved its current figures of more than 300 million, 13.8 years after the formation of the genesis block.
SkyBridge Capital hedge fund founder Anthony Scaramucci called 2023 a “recovery year” for bitcoin. However, his forecast looks rather modest. In his opinion, the value of BTC may “only” double over the next two to three years, up to $50,000.
As for another influencer, best-selling author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki, he claims that bitcoin will rise to a fantastic $500,000 by 2025. “A giant crash is coming. Depression is possible. The Fed has been forced to print billions in counterfeit money. Gold will be at $5,000, silver at $500, and bitcoin at $500,000 by 2025,” Kiyosaki wrote. And he added that gold and silver are the money of the gods, and bitcoin is like a dollar for ordinary people.
Risky assets sank sharply down in the last days of the past week. Following the stock indices, the quotes of crypto-currencies also fell, but then recovered quite quickly. At the time of writing this review (Friday evening, February 16), BTC/USD is trading in the $24,600 zone. The total capitalization of the crypto market is $1.106 trillion ($1.010 trillion a week ago). The Crypto Fear & Greed Index rose from 48 to 61 points in a week and moved from the Neutral zone to the Greed zone.
NordFX Analytical Group
Notice: These materials are not investment recommendations or guidelines for working in financial markets and are intended for informational purposes only. Trading in financial markets is risky and can result in a complete loss of deposited funds.