October 14, 2023
EUR/USD: Inflation Drives Trends
- At the beginning of last week, the Dollar Index (DXY) continued its decline that began on October 3, while global equity markets experienced growth. The dovish stance of Federal Reserve officials and the falling yields on U.S. Treasury bonds were driving factors. In recent days, the regulators have been actively persuading the market of the likelihood of a "soft landing" for the U.S. economy, suggesting a potentially prolonged pause in the cycle of monetary tightening. For instance, on Wednesday, October 11, Christopher Waller, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, stated that "tightening in financial markets is doing some of our work for us," allowing the central bank to maintain a wait-and-see approach.
On the same day, the minutes of the September meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) were released. The document, if not dovish, was certainly not hawkish. It is worth noting that the Committee left the interest rate unchanged in September. As for future prospects, the minutes indicated that Fed leaders acknowledge "high uncertainty" regarding the future of the U.S. economy and recognize the need to maintain a cautious approach to monetary policy.
Market sentiment began to gradually shift following the publication of the U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI). The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the PPI rose by 0.5% in September, exceeding the forecast of 0.3%. The core PPI (MoM) increased by 0.3%, compared to the expected 0.2%. On an annual basis, it reached 2.2%, surpassing the forecast of 1.6% and the previous figure of 2%. This unexpected surge in industrial inflation led to speculation that consumer inflation could also exceed expectations.
This indeed materialized. Data released on Thursday, October 12, showed that inflation in September increased by 0.4%, higher than the 0.3% forecast. On an annual basis, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) also exceeded expectations, coming in at 3.7% against a forecast of 3.6%. Market participants concluded that such inflationary growth could prompt Federal Reserve officials to shift from a dovish to a hawkish stance, potentially raising the interest rate by another 25 basis points (bps) to 5.75% in the upcoming FOMC meeting. Amidst such sentiment, the dollar, along with the yields on U.S. government bonds, sharply increased, while equity markets declined. The DXY reached a new local peak, hitting 106.35. Yields on 10-year Treasuries rose to 4.65%, and 2-year yields reached 5.05%. EUR/USD reversed course, dropping from a high of 1.0639 to 1.0525 in just a few hours.
Germany's CPI was also released on Wednesday, September 11, showing an annual consumer inflation of 4.3% and a monthly figure of 0.3%, both of which were fully in line with forecasts and previous data. Joachim Nagel, a member of the ECB's Governing Council and the head of Bundesbank, stated that inflation in Germany has reached its peak. By 2025, he projects that the tightening of monetary policy will steer inflation in the Eurozone down to 2.7%, according to his opinion. "Until we have defeated high inflation rates, we will not rest," he assured.
The minutes from the ECB's September meeting revealed that a solid majority of the Governing Council members supported a 25 basis point interest rate hike for the euro. In their view, any pause might signal that the tightening cycle has come to an end or that the Governing Council is more concerned about the state of the economy and a possible recession than about excessive inflation. These minutes were published on Thursday, October 12.
Some Council members advocate keeping the key rates at their current level, notably François Villeroy de Galhau, the President of the Bank of France. In his opinion, patience in monetary policy currently holds more importance than activity, stating that it would be much better to achieve the goal through a "soft landing" rather than a "hard one."
With a high degree of probability, the European Central Bank will raise the interest rate to 4.75% at its next meeting on October 26. Even after this increase, the rate will still remain below that of the Federal Reserve. Combined with the apparent weakness of the Eurozone economy, this will continue to exert pressure on the euro. The situation is further complicated by a potential spike in energy prices due to the ongoing military actions in Ukraine and the recent escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as winter approaches.
EUR/USD closed at a level of 1.0507 last week. As of the evening of October 13, when this review was written, experts were divided on its near-term prospects: 80% favoured a northward correction for the pair, while 20% took a neutral stance. The number of votes in favor of further dollar strengthening stood at 0%.
Regarding technical analysis, among the trend indicators on the D1 chart, 100% sided with the bears. A majority (60%) of oscillators continue to favor the U.S. currency and are coloured in red. 30% sided with the euro, with the remaining 10% taking a neutral stance.
Near-term support for the pair is located around 1.0450, followed by 1.0375, 1.0255, 1.0130, and 1.0000. Bulls will encounter resistance in the area of 1.0600-1.0620, then 1.0670-1.0700, 1.0740-1.0770, 1.0800, 1.0865, and 1.0895-1.0930.
The upcoming week's economic calendar highlights several key events. On Tuesday, October 17, data on U.S. retail sales will be released. The Eurozone's Consumer Price Index (CPI) is scheduled for publication on Wednesday. Thursday, October 19, will feature the release of the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index and the customary data on initial jobless claims in the United States. A speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is also planned for the evening of that Thursday.
GBP/USD: It Was Tough, and It Will Be Tough
- Overall, the GBP/USD chart closely resembled that of EUR/USD: rising until Thursday, followed by a reversal and decline after the release of consumer inflation data in the United States. In addition to the prospect of tighter U.S. monetary policy, the British pound faced additional pressure from UK industrial production data.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published on Thursday, the country's industrial sector activity declined again in August. Manufacturing output fell by -0.8%, compared to a forecast of -0.4% and a -1.2% decline in July. The overall industrial production dropped by -0.7%, against expected -0.2% and -1.1% in the previous month. On an annual basis, although manufacturing output did increase by 2.8% in August, it fell short of the expected 3.4%. The overall volume of industrial production also missed expectations, increasing only by 1.3% instead of the anticipated 1.7%.
Despite the fact that the UK's GDP, after contracting by -0.6% in July, increased by 0.2% in August, the risks of economic growth deceleration have heightened. This is largely due to developments in Israel – escalating tensions in the Middle East could disrupt the global supply chain, and rising prices for natural energy resources, primarily oil, will increase inflationary pressures.
Moreover, British companies have not only slowed their production growth rate due to weakened demand but have also postponed their plans for capacity expansion due to higher interest rates on loans.
This situation poses a dilemma for officials at the Bank of England (BoE), who are caught between trying to tame inflation and preventing the economy from slipping into a deep recession. Speaking at the annual meeting of the Institute of International Finance in Morocco on Friday, October 13, BoE Governor Andrew Bailey stated that "the last decision was a difficult one" and that "future decisions will also be difficult." It's worth noting that the interest rate was left unchanged at 5.25% in September. The next BoE meeting is scheduled for November 2, and whether the regulator will opt to raise the rate even by a few basis points remains a significant question.
GBP/USD closed the past week at a mark of 1.2143. Analyst opinions on its near-term future were surprisingly unanimous, with 100% forecasting an increase for the pair. (It's appropriate to remind that even such unanimity offers no guarantees regarding the accuracy of the forecast). On the contrary, trend indicators on the D1 chart are entirely bearish: 100% of them point to a decline and are coloured in red. Oscillators indicate a fall for the pair at 50%, an increase at 40%, with the remaining 10% maintaining a neutral stance. Should the pair trend downwards, it will encounter support levels and zones at 1.2100-1.2115, 1.2030-1.2050, 1.1960, and 1.1800. If the pair rises, it will meet resistance at levels of 1.2205-1.2220, 1.2270, 1.2330, 1.2450, 1.2510, 1.2550-1.2575, 1.2690-1.2710, 1.2760, and 1.2800-1.2815.
Notable events for the upcoming week include Tuesday, October 17, when data on the state of the UK labour market will be released. On Wednesday, October 18, consumer price index (CPI) data will be published for both the Eurozone and the United Kingdom. (Particularly high volatility can be expected for EUR/GBP on this day). Also of interest is Friday, October 20, when retail sales data for the United Kingdom will be made available.
USD/JPY: Coming Full Circle
- What's going on in Japan? Well, the situation remains largely as usual. After plummeting to a level of 147.24 on October 3, USD/JPY resumed its upward trajectory, marking the week's high at 149.82, just shy of the key 150.00 level. It has been noted multiple times that the divergence in monetary policies between the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan (BoJ) will consistently push the pair upwards. Any currency interventions by Japanese financial authorities could only result in a temporary strengthening of the yen.
According to the Bank of Japan, producer inflation has been slowing for the ninth consecutive month. Producer prices, which rose by 3.3% in August with a September forecast of 2.3%, actually increased by a minimal 2.0% year-over-year, the lowest since March 2021. However, with regard to consumer inflation, the BoJ is considering raising the target for the core Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the 2023/24 fiscal year from 2.5% to around 3%. This was reported on Tuesday, October 10, by the Kyodo news agency, citing informed sources.
Evaluating the state of Japan's economy and its monetary policy, S&P Global rating agency believes that "interest rates in Japan will start rising from 2024." However, the agency's view contradicts statements made by Bank of Japan (BoJ) officials. For instance, BoJ board member Asahi Noguchi stated on Thursday, October 13th, that "an interest rate hike would be triggered by achieving the target inflation rate of 2%," and that this target is still far from being reached. According to him, "there's no need to rush," and "there's no urgent need to adjust the Yield Curve Control (YCC) policy." From Noguchi's statements, one could infer that the Japanese regulator would not even be contemplating the topic of interest rates, keeping them at a negative level of -0.1%, were it not for the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve. Noguchi stated that rate hikes "don't necessarily reflect inflation expectations in Japan, but rather U.S. interest rates.".
USD/JPY ended the trading week at the level of 149.53. While the vast majority of experts predict a weakening of the dollar against the euro and pound, only 25% of those surveyed agreed with this view when it comes to the yen. A significant 75% forecast further weakening of the yen and strengthening of the U.S. currency. All 100% of trend indicators remain in the green. Among oscillators, slightly fewer, 80%, stay green, 10% have turned red, and the remaining 10% are in a neutral gray. The nearest support level is located at 149.15, followed by 148.15-148.40, 146.85-147.25, 145.90-146.10, 145.30, 144.45, 143.75-144.05, 142.20, 140.60-140.75, 138.95-139.05, and 137.25-137.50. The closest resistance is at 149.70-150.15, then 150.40, 151.90 (the October 2022 high), and 153.15.
No significant economic data pertaining to the state of the Japanese economy is scheduled for release in the upcoming week.
CRYPTOCURRENCIES: Where Will Bitcoin Fly Next?
- Last week, bitcoin began charting its own course, detaching itself from its "big brothers" and disregarding both direct and inverse correlations. Despite rising stock indices and a weakening dollar, the leading cryptocurrency fell and moved into a sideways trend when the dollar started to gain strength.
BTC/USD has been trading within a range of $24,300-$31,300 since mid-March. Over the last eight weeks, its upper boundary has dipped even further, settling into a $28,100-$28,500 zone. As this range has narrowed, short-term speculators and retail traders have become less active, causing the realized capitalization indicator to hover near zero. Long-term holders, also known as "hodlers," are adding to their BTC wallets rather than depleting them, purchasing around 50,000 coins per month.
Historically, such market stagnation has preceded significant price movements. Many investors are now speculating that triggers for another bull rally could include the upcoming 2024 halving event and the potential approval of spot bitcoin ETFs. MicroStrategy, an American technology company, has accumulated 158,245 BTC, which is worth approximately $4.24 billion. In addition, investment giant BlackRock submitted an application for a spot bitcoin ETF in June and acquired $400 million worth of shares in leading miners.
The Bull Run could potentially commence right now; however, Bloomberg strategist Mike McGlone believes that stringent U.S. policies, particularly those by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are the main obstacles hindering bitcoin's growth. ChatGPT CEO Sam Altman also shares disappointment over the U.S. government's approach towards the crypto industry. "The war on cryptocurrencies seems endless, and the authorities appear keen on taking everything under their control," stated the Artificial Intelligence entrepreneur. Altman, along with U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., thinks that the government's hostility towards independent digital assets is partly due to their desire to introduce their own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Should this wish materialize, it would provide the state with another surveillance tool over its citizens.
Another pressure point on virtual assets comes from the monetary policy of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Analyst Nicholas Merten opines that bitcoin could take a significant hit due to the Fed's actions, potentially leading to a prolonged economic downturn in the United States. If commodity prices, such as oil, natural gas, and uranium, start to stabilize or decline, this could signal an impending short-term recession. In such a scenario, Merten believes, stock prices could drop by approximately 33%, similar to the correction that occurred in October 2022. Bitcoin, in response, would likely plummet to a range of $15,000-$17,000.
The analyst is convinced that a sustained bull trend in the market is unlikely until the Federal Reserve begins to inject more liquidity into the economy. "Bitcoin thrives when there is an increase in the money supply and when investors are risk tolerant. At present, neither of these conditions is met," explained Nicholas Merten.
The current dynamics of bitcoin seem to align with what was observed before and after the halvings in 2016 and 2020. Following its summer peak, the coin is experiencing a downward correction; however, this isn't surprising. Typically, around 200 days before a halving, the leading cryptocurrency could lose up to 60-65% of its value but then would resume its growth trajectory.
Many experts predict a significant surge in bitcoin prices in 2024. Investor optimism is also fuelled by the current price trend of this digital gold: despite the pullback from its summer high, investments in bitcoin have yielded more than 60% returns since the beginning of the year.
JP Morgan experts forecast a price rise to $45,000 in 2024, while Standard Chartered predicts it will reach $100,000. Author and investor Robert Kiyosaki and cryptographer Adam Back also target the $100,000 mark. Fundstrat Research founder Tom Lee envisions bitcoin at $180,000, while venture capitalist Tim Draper predicts a $250,000 valuation. Billionaire Mike Novogratz and ARK Invest CEO Cathy Wood project the coin's rise to $500,000 and $1 million, respectively, for the next year.
Former BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes has set a "modest" target of $70,000 for bitcoin next year. As for the $750,000 to $1 million range, Hayes believes BTC/USD will only reach that level by 2026. He justifies his forecast based on the asset's limited supply, the prospect of spot bitcoin ETF approvals, and geopolitical uncertainty. "I think this will be the greatest financial markets boom in human history. Bitcoin will soar to absurd levels, Nasdaq will rise to absurd levels, and the S&P 500 will climb to absurd levels," stated Hayes.
Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett's partner and the Vice Chairman of American holding company Berkshire Hathaway, has predicted a dire future for digital assets. In his view, the majority of investments in these assets will eventually become worthless. "Don't get me started on bitcoin. It's the dumbest investment I've ever seen," the 99-year-old investor expressed during the Zoomtopia online conference.
As of the time of writing this review, on the evening of Friday, October 13, the total market capitalization of the crypto market stands at $1.046 trillion, down from $1.096 trillion a week ago. bitcoin's share in the overall market has increased from 39.18% at the beginning of the year to 49.92%. Analyst Benjamin Cowen believes the crypto market is entering "one of its most brutal" phases. According to the expert, bitcoin's dominance is rising amid falling altcoin prices and decreased investor interest in this asset class. Utilizing Fibonacci retracement levels, Cowen anticipates that this dominance figure will likely peak at 60%, as it did in the last cycle, but will probably not rise to 65% or 70% due to the stablecoin market. BTC/USD closed at $27,075 on October 13th. The Crypto Fear & Greed Index for bitcoin has dropped from 50 to 44 points over the week, moving back from the Neutral zone to the Fear zone.
NordFX Analytical Group
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