October 21, 2023
EUR/USD: No Interest Rate Hikes from the Fed and ECB in the Near Future?
- Starting from the last days of September, the U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) has been trading within a sideways channel. Macroeconomic data released last week did not provide a clear advantage to either the U.S. or the European currency. On Tuesday, October 17, U.S. retail sales data was published, showing a monthly increase of 0.7%. Although this figure was lower than the previous 0.8%, it substantially exceeded the market's average forecast of 0.3%. On the same day, the ZEW Economic Sentiment Index for the Eurozone was also released, outperforming expectations with a reading of 2.3, considerably better than the forecast of -8, and marking a full rebound from the previous negative figure of -8.9.
On Wednesday, October 18, revised data on consumer inflation in the Eurozone was released. The September Consumer Price Index (CPI) matched the forecast and was ultimately assessed at 4.3% year-on-year (YoY), compared to 5.2% the previous month. On Thursday, October 19, the number of initial jobless claims in the U.S. came in at 198K, surpassing expectations and falling below both the prior figure of 211K and the market forecast of 212K.
Taking a broader view of the U.S. economy, we generally observe strong employment and GDP growth rates, a deceleration in inflation, increased consumer activity, and a real estate market that remains relatively stable despite rising mortgage rates. All these factors point to the appropriateness of another rate hike, which should, in turn, push the DXY higher. However, based on statements from Federal Reserve officials, it seems unlikely that a rate hike will occur at the upcoming Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on November 1.
Specifically, Patrick Harker, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, stated that economic pressure should not be created by increasing borrowing costs. Echoing Harker's sentiments, Lorie Logan, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, noted that although "desired progress is being observed in the fight against inflation, it is still too high." She added that "the economy continues to demonstrate strong performance, and labour markets remain tight," yet "the Fed still has some time to observe the economy and markets before making a decision on monetary policy.".
Jerome Powell's speech at the New York Economic Club on Thursday, November 19, did not meet the expectations of dollar hawks, leading EUR/USD to rise above 1.0615. According to economists at Rabobank, the Federal Reserve Chairman attempted to keep the door open for various options while maintaining a neutral stance. Rabobank believes that U.S. economic indicators are likely to sustain the possibility for further rate hikes. However, with less than a week and a half remaining until the next FOMC meeting, the current "neutral dynamics provide no basis to expect a rate hike on November 1st." Nonetheless, they note that "this option remains open for the December meeting." Despite that, economists at the bank still expect "the bond market to do the Fed's job, making further rate hikes redundant. However, if economic data remain strong, the FOMC will eventually have to resume the rate hike cycle at some point."
Analysts at the Netherlands' largest banking group, ING, opined that while the Fed Chairman's comments were perceived as dovish and led to some weakening of the U.S. currency, the dollar appears more inclined to rise than to further fall in the short term. Economists at Germany's Commerzbank characterized the mood among Fed officials as cautiously hawkish rather than dovish. They also see little chance for another rate hike in the current climate. "Indeed, it seems that the Fed has reached its peak, although Jerome Powell did not rule out the possibility of another rate hike depending on incoming data. However, monetary policy currently plays a secondary role for the market. Geopolitical risks have taken the forefront, and the dollar continues to be in demand as a safe haven," they commented. The bank's experts forecast that although it may be challenging for the dollar to continue rising in such a scenario, high oil prices will provide support.
At France's Societe Generale, it is believed that "the narrative about a higher rate over a longer term, both from the Fed and the ECB, points to a gradual decline of the euro." According to the bank's experts, "data from the Eurozone is not brilliant, and the divergence between growth forecasts in the U.S. and the Eurozone suggests that a slow movement toward parity [1.000], but not beyond it, appears likely.".
As of the time of writing this review, EUR/USD has evidently not reached parity and concluded the past week at 1.0593. Expert opinions on its near-term future are divided as follows: 50% voted for a stronger dollar, 35% foresee the pair trending upward, and 15% have adopted a neutral stance.
Turning to technical analysis, the outlook is also mixed. Among the trend indicators on the D1 chart, the ratio stands at 1:1: 50% in favour of reds (bearish) and 50% on the side of greens (bullish). Oscillators show 40% siding with the European currency, a mere 15% in favour of the dollar, with the remaining 45% taking a neutral position. The immediate support levels for the pair are situated around 1.0550, followed by 1.0485-1.0510, 1.0450, 1.0375, 1.0255, 1.0130, and 1.0000. Bulls will encounter resistance in the 1.0600-1.0620 zone, then at 1.0670-1.0700, 1.0740-1.0770, 1.0800, 1.0865, and 1.0945-1.0975.
The upcoming week promises to be highly eventful. On Tuesday, October 24, a slew of Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) data will be released across various sectors of the German, Eurozone, and U.S. economies. The following day, October 25, will bring U.S. housing market data, along with remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. On Thursday, the European Central Bank (ECB) will hold its meeting where Governing Council members are expected to make a decision on the euro interest rate, which according to consensus forecasts, is likely to remain at its current level of 4.50%. Importantly, not only the decision itself but also subsequent statements and comments from the ECB leadership will be of significance. On the same day, the U.S. will release durable goods orders data as well as preliminary GDP figures for Q3 of the current year. The workweek will conclude on October 27 with the release of U.S. personal consumption expenditure data.
GBP/USD: Will the BoE Rate Remain Unchanged as Well?
- At the beginning of this month, specifically on October 4, GBP/USD trended upwards, moving from a level of 1.2037 to reach 1.2337 within a week. However, resistance around the 1.2320 zone and a trendline clearly visible on the D1 and W1 timeframes halted the bullish momentum, sending the pair back downwards. As a result, the British currency has lost approximately 7.5% against the dollar since mid-July. The driving factors behind this are not merely technical analysis but also the prevailing economic and geopolitical landscape.
Amid tensions in the Middle East and the ongoing escalation of armed conflict between Israel and Hamas, investors are turning back to the dollar, viewing it as a safe-haven currency. Naturally, the rising cost of energy commodities is also affecting prices in the United Kingdom, which will undoubtedly put pressure on the country's economy and its currency, often considered by investors to be a riskier asset.
It's worth noting that at the beginning of the year, experts predicted that the United Kingdom would slide into a recession. So far, those forecasts have not materialized, although the economy is teetering on the edge, with the current annual GDP growth rate at 0.6% (compared to 2.1% in the United States). The situation could deteriorate by year-end, as high energy prices amid winter cold spells could further fuel inflation. It's already observable that the country's inflation slowdown has stalled, and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has been hovering around 6.8-6.7% year-on-year for the third consecutive month.
In such a scenario, the Bank of England (BoE) might very well opt to focus on supporting the economy over combating inflation. Although some representatives of the central bank have stated that the issue of raising interest rates remains open, the recent interview given by BoE Governor Andrew Bailey to the Belfast Telegraph appeared rather dovish, neutralizing the effect of Jerome Powell's similarly dovish comments. Mr. Bailey indicated that he expects "a noticeable decrease" in inflation in the coming month. "Looking at September's inflation data, we can say that core inflation has dropped a bit compared to our expectations, which is quite encouraging," added Bailey, sending GBP/USD into a minor knockdown.
Pressure on the pound was also exerted by the UK retail sales data released on Friday, October 20. According to the Office for National Statistics, retail sales declined by -0.9% month-on-month in September, significantly below the -0.1% forecast and the previous 0.4% value.
At the moment, the situation for the pound remains complicated. It's unclear how the BoE will react to the latest data. Most likely, until the upcoming meeting on November 2, the central bank will adopt a "close your eyes and hope for the best" approach. Meanwhile, analysts from Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and RBC are in agreement that the rate hike cycle in the United Kingdom has likely come to an end. At the very least, the probability of a rate hike in the upcoming BoE meeting is estimated to be below 50%.
The weekly low for GBP/USD was recorded at 1.2089, while the week closed at 1.2163. When polled about the near-term future of the pair, 40% of analysts voted for its rise. The majority (60%), however, believe that the pair will continue its move toward the 1.2000 target. On the D1 timeframe, trend indicators are unanimously (100%) pointing to a decline, displayed in red. Oscillators are less decisive: 65% indicate a decline, 15% point to a rise, and the remaining 20% are neutral.
In terms of support levels and zones, if the pair continues to move southward, it will encounter 1.2085-1.2130, 1.2040, 1.1960, and 1.1800. On the flip side, if the pair rises, it will face resistance at 1.2190-1.2215, 1.2270, 1.2330, 1.2450, 1.2510, 1.2550-1.2575, and 1.2690-1.2710 levels.
Tuesday, October 24 is noteworthy in the economic calendar for the upcoming week. Data on the UK labor market and business activity will be released on this day.
USD/JPY: Amidst Prolonged Uncertainty
- Many times have we heard these reassuring statements from Japanese officials about everything and... nothing! Let's take, for example, some quotes from Friday, October 20. First, from Bank of Japan (BoJ) Governor Kazuo Ueda: "The Japanese economy is recovering at a moderate pace. […] Uncertainty regarding Japan's economy is very high. […] Inflation rates will likely slow down and then pick up again. [But] overall, Japan's financial system remains stable."
Next, from Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki: "It is important for currencies to move stably and reflect fundamental indicators. […] Exchange rates are influenced by various factors. [I] will not comment on currency levels in the Forex market. [And] I will not comment on our response to the currency market situation."
And, as the cherry on top, a quote from the Bank of Japan's latest report, also published on October 20: "Although the country's financial system is generally stable, the 'stress period may be further prolonged due to the ongoing tightening of central banks' monetary policy and concerns about slowing economic growth rates in foreign countries." In summary, Japan, on one hand, is doing well, but on the other, is experiencing stress caused by other central banks that are tightening their monetary policy and raising interest rates.
As experts note, the BoJ continues to maintain an ultra-accommodative monetary policy, persistently ignoring the risks of rising inflationary pressures in the country. On Tuesday, October 17, Bloomberg reported that the Bank of Japan's new core CPI forecast for the 2023 fiscal year is likely to approach 3.0%, compared to 2.5% previously.
The fact that interest rates in Japan remain very low due to yield curve control policy should lead to a further decline in the yen against the dollar. This decline could cease under two conditions: if the dollar interest rates decline or if the Bank of Japan abandons its YCC (Yield Curve Control) policy. Both could potentially begin to happen as early as mid-2024, but certainly not now. (Although one should not forget the possibility of currency interventions by the Japanese Ministry of Finance).
According to strategists at Societe Generale, "if we see further increases in yields in the U.S. and no more than a change in the inflation forecast by the Bank of Japan at its meeting on October 31, then another surge [in USD/JPY] above 150.00 is practically inevitable." "The yen has every chance of becoming one of the most successful currencies in 2024," Societe Generale believes, "but predicting when USD/JPY will peak is as easy or difficult as determining when the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds will peak."
Amid a prolonged atmosphere of uncertainty, USD/JPY ended the previous trading week at 149.85. When it comes to the pair's short-term outlook, a mere 15% of experts foresee a renewed push towards the 150.00 mark. An additional 20% predict a downward correction, while the majority, 65%, remain noncommittal. On the D1 timeframe, all trend indicators are unanimously signalling 'buy' with a green coloration. Likewise, 100% of oscillators are green, although 40% indicate that the pair may be overbought. Immediate support can be found in the 149.60 area, followed by zones at 148.30-148.65, 146.85-147.25, 145.90-146.10, 145.30, 144.45, 143.75-144.05, and finally 142.20. On the upside, resistance is present at 150.00-150.15, then at 150.40, followed by the October 2022 high of 151.90, and 153.15.
No significant economic data concerning the state of the Japanese economy is scheduled for release in the upcoming week. The only noteworthy item is the publication of the Tokyo Consumer Price Index on Friday, October 27.
CRYPTOCURRENCIES: The Real Market Surge Triggered by Fake News About BTC-ETF
- Undoubtedly, the most significant day of the past week was Monday, October 16. On this day, the bitcoin price soared to $30,102 before plummeting to $27,728. Following BTC, other digital assets also saw a sharp price increase, followed by a steep decline. According to Coinglass data, the price surge led to the liquidation of over 33,000 trading positions, with traders incurring losses totalling $154 million. Of this amount, bitcoin accounted for $92.0 million in losses, Ethereum for $22.7 million, and Solana for $4.6 million.
The surge in quotations occurred after Cointelegraph published news that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had approved BlackRock's application for a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). It was later revealed that the news was fake. Cointelegraph's editorial team apologized for publishing the false news. The publication clarified that one of their staff had seen the news about the SEC's approval of the BTC-ETF on Platform X (previously Twitter) and decided to publish it as quickly as possible without fact-checking or obtaining editorial approval. Representatives from the Commission also noted that "the best source of information about the SEC is the SEC itself" and advised users to "be cautious about what they read online.".
To understand this issue more deeply, it's helpful to look back to its origins in 2021. That year, a series of companies submitted applications to create such funds. Three years ago, Bitwise Chief Investment Officer Matt Hougan explained that cryptocurrency futures ETFs are not particularly suitable for long-term investors due to high ancillary costs. It is only when spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds become available that institutional investors will begin large-scale capital inflows.
For clarification: A spot BTC-ETF is a fund whose shares are traded on an exchange, and which tracks the market, or spot price, of bitcoin. The primary idea behind such ETFs is to give institutional investors access to bitcoin trading without physically owning the asset, through a regulated and financially familiar product.
All applications submitted to the SEC in 2021 were rejected, leading to a hiatus that was interrupted on June 15, 2023. On that day, the situation dramatically changed: the financial world was abuzz with the news that investment giant BlackRock had submitted its application for a spot bitcoin trust. In an interview with Bloomberg, Hougan heralded the dawn of a new era. He stated, "We now have BlackRock raising the flag and declaring that bitcoin matters: that it is an asset institutional investors want to invest in. I believe we have entered a new era in cryptocurrency, which I call the foundational era, and I expect a multi-year bull trend that is just beginning."
Under the banner raised by BlackRock, seven more leading financial institutions also submitted similar applications to the SEC. Among them were global asset managers like Invesco and Fidelity, who, experts believe, have the capacity to absorb trillions of dollars. The ninth on the list was the asset management company GlobalX. They, along with several other financial giants, had entered the ETF race back in 2021, but were then thwarted by the SEC. Now, in August 2023, GlobalX made another attempt.
Owing to the initiatives of these investment titans, bitcoin experienced a meteoric rise starting in the latter half of June. It shattered the $25,000 resistance barrier, soared beyond $30,000, and peaked at $31,388 on June 23. This resulted in a weekly gain exceeding 26%. Following bitcoin's lead, altcoins like Ethereum also saw significant upward movement, registering approximately a 19% increase during the same period. However, due to subsequent regulatory pressures from the SEC and actions by the U.S. Federal Reserve, along with other negative news, the BTC/USD trading pair began to decline. It reached a low point of $24,296 on August 17.
And now, two months later, we see another surge and subsequent drop. What's next? It's a pertinent question, as the approval of spot bitcoin ETFs is expected to unleash a significant wave of adoption of this asset class by institutional investors. According to analysts at CryptoQuant, this could quickly propel the market capitalization of the crypto space by $1 trillion. In their opinion, the odds of this happening have significantly increased following the legal victories of Ripple and Grayscale against the SEC. Bloomberg analysts currently estimate these odds at 90%.
It's worth noting that the deadline for the SEC's decisions on the applications from BlackRock and other companies will arrive in March 2024. However, Mike Novogratz, the CEO of Galaxy Investment, believes that spot bitcoin ETFs could become a reality as early as this year. Larry Fink, the head of BlackRock, declined to comment on the status of their application but added that the October 16 rally was driven not so much by rumours of its approval but rather by a desire among people to use quality assets, which he believes includes bitcoin, gold, and Treasury bonds.
Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital and former White House Communications Director, believes that the leading cryptocurrency is "in many ways even more valuable than gold," and could "easily" achieve a market capitalization of $15 trillion. According to his calculations, such a capitalization would propel the price of bitcoin to approximately $700,000.
Scaramucci asserts that the current financial system is "broken." "Strange things could happen when you see countries that are hostile to the U.S. trading in bitcoin or other assets to distance themselves from the dollar. This is because the United States has used its currency to assert its own geopolitical will," he said.
Opinions within the crypto industry regarding the near-term future of bitcoin (BTC) are divided. A study conducted by Finbold revealed that a substantial number of experts do not rule out the possibility of BTC/USD climbing to $100,000 or even $200,000. Finbold specialists also sought forecasts from the artificial intelligence PricePredictions. According to AI calculations, after the approval of a bitcoin ETF, the flagship crypto asset could swiftly reach the $100,000 range. PricePredictions noted that additional factors like mainstream bitcoin adoption, institutional investor actions, regulatory activity, and overall macroeconomic conditions will be significant.
Trader, analyst, and founder of venture firm Eight, Michael Van De Poppe, believes that the October 16th fake news will not hinder the cryptocurrency's growth. According to his observations, the coin has already entered a phase of positive momentum. "The trend is already upward. The lows we're seeing now offer a buying opportunity. A bitcoin ETF will eventually enter the market; it's just not happening today," said the Eight CEO.
Authors of the analytical channel Root in X (formerly known as "Twitter") also think that the fake news did not exert significant pressure on the cryptocurrency. In their opinion, the coin's pump, despite the subsequent correction, has actually helped improve its position. However, there is also a sizable portion of the crypto community that supports a bearish outlook, suggesting the coin could drop to the $19,000-$23,000 range.
On Friday, October 20, BTC/USD made another attempt to breach the $30,000 mark, reaching a high of $30,207 before retreating. At the time of writing this overview, it is trading at $29,570. The overall market capitalization of the crypto market stands at $1.120 trillion, up from $1.046 trillion a week ago. The Crypto Fear & Greed Index has risen over the week from 44 to 53 points, moving from the 'Fear' zone into the 'Neutral' 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.