Don’t go barking up the wrong tree in the Year of the Dog

Don’t go barking up the wrong tree in the Year of the Dog

A predictable wave of profit taking and risk reduction, as is standard form ahead of US long weekends, dominated Friday session leading to USD gains as US  yields pulled back. And while the broader  US dollar negativity continues to seep through capital markets, some traders are suggesting of potential shifts in conviction levels while others believe  Friday to be little more than pre-weekend risk reduction. But one thing that’s clear, even the most prolific purveyors of price action are baffled regarding the breakdown of historical correlations across most asset classes.

One telling feature, however, is long-term investors continue to shun the greenback and this should continue to weigh on near-term sentiment. So no don’t  go barking up the wrong tree in this Year of the Dog, stick to the basics and follow the flow.

By way of the ordinary course of developments, the various market holiday observances might challenge liquidity conditions. Golden Week celebrations continue across Asia through Wednesday, while both the US and Canada take holidays Monday. Still, it could be an actionable week with numerous Fed speakers on tap and the FOMC minutes are sure to liven things up. Keep in mind; March rate hike is all but entirely priced-in so the markets will be keying on forwarding guidance.

As the markets pivot to Fed speak and the FOMC minutes this week, “deficit mania” is sounding a few decibels lower this morning.But none the less, ongoing concerns about swelling deficit’s and the Feds sequence of interest rate normalisation should be the markets key focus this week and the primary drivers of near-term volatility.

And while US Bond yields eased on Friday,  traders see icebergs ahead suggesting Friday’s price action was little more than a reprieve amidst a bear market.

Equity Markets

Equity markets continue climbing the wall of worry despite inflationary fears gaining momentum and Bond Yields moving higher.Eventually, something has to give, but so far investors are betting on corporate earning rather than the shifting macro narratives.

Oil markets 

Oil prices finished modestly higher on Friday to chalk up a weekly gain as prices continue to see-saw between the binary descriptions from OPEC’s ongoing efforts to blow out the worldwide glut against the indications of rising U.S. production.Although Fridays price movements were likely  position sensitive amid USD risk reduction and book squaring ahead of tomorrows Oil contract expiration

We should expect the WTI whipsaw to continue as debate rages between US shale and OPEC, but we’re starting to carve out near-term ranges as longer-term oil bulls remain in dip buying mode with shale oil hedger looking to sell upticks.
Gold Markets

Gold prices eased late Friday as the dollar tentatively lifted off the canvas, despite taking a standing eight count earlier in the session when the DXY hit a three year low. A couple of hours USD short covering is unlikely to change the broader USD negativity, but when coupled with inflationary concerns heightening and a probable follow-up correction in equities markets around the corner, golds haven demand should continue to glitter.

On the physical side of demand, China Lunar New Year has seen few gold bars change hands despite physical premiums easing as futures prices continue to grind higher.

G-10 Currency Markets

Japanese Yen

Although the reappointment of Kuroda and the reshuffle of deputy governors is slightly more dovish BoJ, it is hard to reverse USDJPY downside given that continuous USD weakness could further drag USDJPY into the abyss. With the tables turned upside down on ten year US yield to JPY correlation and the US ” deficit mania. ” likely to return, USDJPY is in a precarious position.

Predictably we heard from Japan as Currency Chief Asakawa that he’s readying the necessary action to prevent “one-sided” currency moves, but with the Buck getting pounded against all major currencies, Japans verbal intentions are falling on deaf ears.
The Euro

The pace of the EURUSD rally post-CPI last week surprised everyone but none the less if not for timely comments( seems always to happen when EUR rallies) from ECB Cœuré, we should have closed closer to the 1.2500 rather than 1.2400 handles. His remarks spooked the markets in pre-weekend risk reduction mode after he suggested policymakers are unanimous in sequence when market positioning was suggesting the Hawks were gaining the upper hand. But at some juncture, the market will ignore this verbal balderdash, and in reality, 1.3000 shouldn’t be unimaginable before long predicated on strong fundamentals, the realisation of more hawkish ECB guidance but also the mechanics of the taper could reverse bond outflows.

Asia FX

Malaysian Ringgit 

External drivers and specifically the broader USD moves will dictate the Ringgit momentum this week with the critical focus on USDJPY 106 level.But on the positive side of the equation, one of the primary headwinds that we considered to be a negative for the Ringgit was higher US yields which typically and historically have supported the USD. But the US interest rate to FX correlation broken, and despite USD bond yields pushing much higher t, the USD continues to sell off.

The markets are still feeling the hangover effect from the Chinese Lunar New Year, and risk appetite is waning and with a plethora of Fed speak along with the FOMC minutes likely to cause an uptick in volatility this week, offshore demand could remain muted. None the less, 106 level USDJPY will be a crucial US dollar sentiment gauge, and if the market pushes through again this week, we could see the Ringgit move to 3.87 and below as traders would then set sights on the critical 3.85 level.

Singapore Dollar

The US CPI fallout was somewhat unusual; triggering moves out of the dollar and into riskier currencies, so the SGD benefited as the CNH rallied hard this week.But  CNH could start to underperform. Let me qualify this next comment as no one, and I mean no one knows what the Pboc are going to do. So we can only make hay from innuendo and strategically placed criticisms from regulators in HK  press. But there seems to be a  pickup in debate onshore about the merits of further RMB appreciation which could dent SGD appeal. But in the mean times, we should enjoy the SGD strength ( not because I get paid in SGD, although that is always a welcome bonus). But there is some real value appeal that has emerged in SGD  ahead of this weeks budget, as a rosier outlook in the statement could be the precursor to monetary tightening.But also appealing to foreign investors is the government will take measures to cover the current operating fiscal deficit gap.

Dollar Regains Ground Ahead of Fed Minutes

Higher US inflation fails to spark dollar revival

The US dollar depreciated across the board versus major pairs despite consumer prices rising more than expected. Inflation anxiety had triggered a sell-off in global stock markets with the Fed expected to ramp up their interest rate hike path yet the dollar did not benefit as higher rates have already been priced in by the market. Fiscal uncertainty driven by political factors continue to confound investors with stock indices rebounding this week and the dollar hitting a 2014 low. The paradox in consumer spending and retail sales continues as Americans remain confident in the economic outlook yet core retail sales remain flat and taking into consideration auto sales they actually dropped by 0.5 percent. The dollar showed some signs of life on Friday as it gained against a basket of major pairs, but not enough to offset the losses earlier in the week.

  • Fed to release minutes of January meeting
  • Kuroda renominated as Governor of Bank of Japan (BOJ)
  • Lower trading activity with start of Chinese New Year celebrations and 3 day weekend in NA

Dollar Recovers on Friday But Still Underwater this Week



The EUR/USD gained 1.62 percent in the last five days. The single currency is trading at 1.2448 with the EUR recovering against the earlier losses versus the USD suffered earlier in the month. US inflation rose more than expected and US treasuries dropped in prices as investors sold them anticipating higher rates this year. Bond yields rose with the 10 year at four year highs (2.93 percent). The correlation between higher yields and a stronger currency is broken at the moment for the USD as the confidence in the stability of the US economy is up for debate. Fundamentals are strong and would point to a higher dollar, but political uncertainty around fiscal stimulus has made it hard to quantify the effects of actual and proposed legislation on the currency. The U.S. Federal Reserve will publish the minutes from its January Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Wednesday, February 21 at 2:00 pm EST. The meeting was the last presided by Chair Janet Yellen and is not expected to bring any surprises, but could prepare the market on what to expect in March when Chair Jerome Powell heads his first FOMC.

The USD went through a topsy-turvy week, with Wednesday’s release of consumer price index data providing the most volatility. The market forecasts were slightly improved with a 0.3 percent monthly gain. The employment report in February 2 was the first data point that suggested a stronger inflationary pressure. Stock markets had already suffered two difficult weeks and the dollar rose as the inflation data was released only to quickly give back all gains and end up in the red.

President’s day in the US will give some investors a much needed rest from a high octane trading week. The Lunar New Year celebrations will also affect trading volumes as Hong Kong and China markets will remain closed until Thursday. Stock markets had a positive week after stronger corporate results erased earlier losses.



The USD/JPY lost 2.38 percent during the week. The currency pair is trading at 106.19 as the JPY keeps gaining. The government issued a statement where it was clear there is no need for intervention and the market took it as a sign to keep buying the yen. The tone changed slightly on Friday as the currency kept appreciating and there were some warning that the trade is one sided. The softness of the USD and uncertainty about how the American government will deal with growing twin deficits and political drama has boosted the JPY due to some safe haven flows.

The reappointment of BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda along with other nominations of economist who favour further easing did not factor into Yen pricing in the short term, but should impact the growing gap between rates in Japan and the United States. In the short term, lack of stability in politics and fiscal uncertainty are overriding higher growth and interest rate expectations in the US.



Oil prices advanced during the week. The price of West Texas Intermediate is trading at $61.21 with most of the gains in energy coming from dollar softness. Oil prices suffered losses earlier in the month as higher production in Canada, Brazil and the United States is anticipated given the high prices and producers in those nations not bound to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production cut agreement. Lack of traction of the US currency is keeping prices above $60.

A small rise in oil rigs in Baker Hughes was not enough to derail energy prices specially with an underlying weak US dollar. The OPEC agreement with other major producers has stabilized oil prices after the freewill caused by overproduction. The question remains if demand for energy has recovered to the point that even after the agreement timeline runs out supply will not once again outweigh demand causing another drop in prices.

Market events to watch this week:

Monday, February 19
7:30pm AUD Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, February 21
4:30am GBP Average Earnings Index 3m/y
9:15am GBP Inflation Report Hearings
2:00pm USD FOMC Meeting Minutes
Thursday, February 22
4:30am GBP Second Estimate GDP q/q
8:30am CAD Core Retail Sales m/m
11:00am USD Crude Oil Inventories
4:45pm NZD Retail Sales q/q
Friday, February 23
8:30am CAD CPI m/m

*All times EST
For a complete list of scheduled events in the forex market visit the MarketPulse Economic Calendar

US/German Bond Yield Gap Hits 10-month high

The gap between German and U.S. 10-year borrowing costs reached its widest point since April 2017 on Thursday after a higher-than-expected inflation print in the United States led to a sharp sell-off in U.S. Treasuries.

While investors also shed European government bonds on the data – bond markets in the world’s major developed economies tend to track each other as many investors switch between them – political risks kept a cap on yields.

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries, which moves inversely to price, touched a fresh four-year high of 2.94 percent in European trade, after data on Wednesday showed consumer prices rose more than expected in the world’s largest economy in January.

This raises the pressure on new Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell to prevent a possible overheating of the economy.

“The inflation data weighed on the U.S. Treasury market, and now you will have fiscal stimulus when the economy is running at full employment,” said Commerzbank strategist Michael Leister, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s $200 billion infrastructure spending plan.

“But in Europe the risks have become a bit more balanced and there’s still some demand for Bunds,” he said.

Though European bond yields have risen sharply since the start of December, this move has lost some steam as concerns around German coalition talks and an upcoming Italian election renewed the bid for “safe haven” bonds.

In addition, while most expect the European Central Bank to reduce extraordinary stimulus sooner rather than later, rate hikes are still a good distance away with a booming European economy yet to leave a lasting mark on inflation.

But while German 10-year government bond yields also rose after the release of the U.S. consumer price data – they were 3 basis points higher at 0.78 percent on Thursday – this was still below the recent 2-1/2 year high of 0.81 percent.

The “transatlantic spread” between U.S. and German 10-year government bond yields opened Thursday at 216 basis points, a level last seen ten months ago.

Most other euro zone government bond yields were also higher by 3-4 bps, partly driven upwards by large bond sales by Spain and France on the day.

AUCTION STATIONS

The move towards higher yields across the euro zone has certainly boosted demand in some quarters, and this was on display on the French and Spanish auctions on Thursday.

France in particular was swamped with demand as investors put in enough orders to cover an 8 billion euro sale of bonds twice over, while Spain also generated strong demand, particularly for its shorter-dated debt.

“I have been watching to see at what point these positive yields on semi-core bonds start attracting international investors, and so for me this France result looks pretty interesting,” said Mizuho strategist Antoine Bouvet.

Spain’s bond auction result was also positive, especially given that Italy and Portugal have already conducted sales this week, he added.

Reuters

U.S Producer Prices Rise in January

U.S. producer prices accelerated in January, boosted by strong gains in the cost of gasoline and healthcare, offering more evidence that inflation pressures were building up.

The report came on the heels of data on Wednesday showing a broad increase in consumer prices in January. The Labor Department said on Thursday its producer price index for final demand rose 0.4 percent last month after being unchanged in December.

In the 12 months through January, the PPI rose 2.7 percent after advancing 2.6 percent in December. A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services jumped 0.4 percent last month. The so-called core PPI edged up 0.1 percent in December.

It rose 2.5 percent in the 12 months through January, the largest increase since August 2014. The core PPI increased 2.3 percent in the 12 months through December.

The PPI report bolsters expectations that inflation will gain steam this year even though its correlation with consumer prices has weakened.

Economists believe that a tightening labor market, weak dollar and fiscal stimulus in the form of a $1.5 trillion tax cut package and increased government spending will lift inflation toward the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target this year.

The U.S. central bank’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, has undershot its target since May 2012.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data.

The Fed has forecast three interest rate increases this year, with the first hike expected in March. Most economists are, however, forecasting four rate increases this year because of rising inflation pressures.

FOOD PRICES FALL

Last month, the cost of hospital outpatient care surged 1.0 percent, the largest increase since August 2014, after gaining 0.1 percent in December.

Hospital inpatient care rose 0.3 percent. Overall, the cost of healthcare services shot up 0.7 percent in January. Those costs feed into the core PCE price index.

Wholesale goods prices increased 0.7 percent last month, after nudging up 0.1 percent in December. Gasoline prices, which rose 7.1 percent, accounted for nearly half of the increase in the cost of goods last month.

Wholesale food prices fell for a second straight month, with prices for prepared poultry posting their biggest drop in 14 years and chicken eggs declining by the most since December 2015. Core goods prices rose 0.2 percent for the second consecutive month.

Reuters

US weekly jobless claims rebound from near 45-year lows

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rebounded from a nearly 45-year low last week, but remained below a level that is associated with a tightening labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ended Feb. 10, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Claims fell to 216,000 in mid-January, which was the lowest level since January 1973. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 230,000 in the latest week.

Last week marked the 154th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a strong labor market. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.

The labor market is near full employment, with the jobless rate at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. The tighter labor market is starting to exert upward pressure on wage growth, which will over time add to inflation pressures.

The Labor Department said claims for Maine were estimated last week. It also said claims-taking procedures in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands had still not returned to normal, months after the territories were slammed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Last week, the four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 3,500 to 228,500.

The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 15,000 to 1.94 million in the week ended Feb. 3. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims fell 5,750 to 1.94 million.

CNBC.com

Ramaphosa elected president of South Africa

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as South Africa’s president in a parliamentary vote on Thursday after scandal-ridden Jacob Zuma reluctantly resigned on orders from the ruling African National Congress.

South Africa’s main stock market index jumped nearly 4 percent, putting it on track for its biggest one-day gain in more than two years as investors welcomed Zuma’s resignation after nine years in office plagued by corruption allegations.

Reuters

Dollar Dives on Confidence, No Support from Fundamentals

Thursday February 15: Five things the markets are talking about

U.S bond yields have backed after an unexpected rise in U.S consumer inflation to its fastest pace in a year – the core’s +1.8% y/y print yesterday was higher than expected, but still below the Fed’s +2% target – making it more likely the Fed will raise interest rates three or more times this year. But, higher U.S rates have not been able to make the U.S dollar more attractive.

The dollar remains under pressure, building on yesterday’s slide in the Euro session, as the market seems to be losing confidence in the long-run state of the U.S economy.

The Dollar Index is down -0.5% and poised to log another three-year low if the decline persists as we head to U.S session open.

Without any new positive U.S demand or supply shocks that could change the landscape for the country’s economy, it’s easy to see the weak dollar story persisting.

For the dollar to rise with Treasury yields, which it has not been doing this year, there needs to be a return in relative confidence over the medium-term U.S.

Also yesterday, January retail sales fell unexpectedly in their biggest drop in 11- months, declining -0.3%, raising new concerns about the U.S economy as a weaker sale print will lead to lower expectations for Q1 GDP growth.

1. Stocks edge higher

The global stock rally is marching ahead as investors take in stride a jump in sovereign yields.

In Japan, the Nikkei posted a solid rise despite a stronger yen (¥106.31). The index ended up +1.5% overnight, after tumbling to a four-month low on Wednesday. The broader Topix advanced +1.0%.

Down-under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rebounded +1.2% as the stock index’s energy component rallied +2.4% to reverse some of this month’s decline.

In a shortened session ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped +2%. Its rise of +5.4% this week has erased +50% of last week’s decline, its biggest fall in a decade.

Note: China, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam markets were all closed.

In Europe, regional indices continue their ascent higher, tracking another positive session in Asia and on Wall Street yesterday. The French CAC is +1% higher following earnings from a host of Index components. The Swiss SMI is underperforming after Nestle reported mixed results.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘black’ (+0.8%).

Indices: Stoxx600 +0.9% at 378.0, FTSE +0.7% at 7264, DAX +0.9% at 12455, CAC-40 +1.6% at 5248, IBEX-35 +1.3% at 9808, FTSE MIB +1.1% at 22687, SMI +0.2% at 8924, S&P 500 Futures +0.8%

2. Oil rises on Saudi commitment to withhold output, gold higher

Oil prices have rallied +1% overnight to extend their gains from yesterday’s session, lifted by a weak dollar and Saudi comments that it would rather see an undersupplied market than end a deal with OPEC.

Brent crude futures are at +$64.99 a barrel, up +63c, or +1%, extending Wednesday’s +2.6% climb. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are up +83c, or +1.4%, from Wednesday’s close at +$61.43 a barrel, adding to its +2.4% gain.

Oil markets have got a push from comments by Saudi Arabia, voicing support for output cuts backed by OPEC and other producers including Russia since 2017 in an effort to tighten the market and prop up prices.

OPEC Secretary General Barkindo said that preliminary data for January points to high compliance of cuts by producers.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have edged a tad higher as the dollar weakens and investors’ bank on the precious metal as a hedge against inflation. Spot gold is up +0.3% at +$1,354.34 an ounce and is heading for a fourth consecutive session of gains.

3. Sovereign yields rise

The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries is nudging closer to +3%, continuing its steady advance from last year’s low of +2.01% in September.

Following this weeks U.S inflation data, and the potential implications that it has for the pace of Fed rate increases this year, the market will be closely scrutinize speeches later today by ECB policy makers to see whether the recent market turmoil will convince them to ease off plans to taper their bond purchases.

Note: Fed-fund futures show a +21% chance of at least four interest-rate increases by year-end, compared with +17% earlier this week.

In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has gained +1 bps to +0.77%, the highest in more than two years on the biggest gain in a week.

4. Dollar dives again

The USD remains on the defensive despite higher U.S yields –the currency is usually highly correlated to short-term rates. Market seems to be reacting to concerns over weak U.S policies and/or diverging central bank policies as both the BoJ and ECB could begin tightening monetary policy.

The EUR/USD (€1.2467) probed the upper end this week’s and year range as the pair re-tested the €1.25 handle. Sterling (£1.4042) is a tad higher initially aided by reports that the E.U Commission was looking to ease the Brexit transition conditions. However, the E.U later refuted the reports. The pound is also finding support not only from the dollar’s weakness, but also a perceived higher probability that the current U.K government will serve its full five-year term.

USD/JPY (¥106.69) continues to trade atop of its 15-month lows as the pair probed below ¥106.20 overnight. Japan’s Finance Minister Aso comments that the yen’s strength is not abrupt enough to require intervention supported the yen’s rally.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin (BTC) is moving back toward $10,000, up +6% on the day at +$9,840 – the price had slumped some -70% in the past six weeks.

5. Crisis in the Northern Ireland

U.K PM Theresa May is facing a political crisis in Northern Ireland as the DUP, who are part of the government’s coalition, have stated there was “no prospect” of a power sharing deal and suggested a return to direct rule.

This crisis threatens to throw the Good Friday agreement into jeopardy and would be a significant blow to P.M May’s authority as she attempts to agree to a crucial Brexit deal over the Irish border.

Forex heatmap

At the Edge of a Cliff

At the Edge of a Cliff

Was it the mixed data, skewed positioning or merely a lack of confidence that has the USD dollar precariously perched at the edge of the cliff.

Everyone one to a tee went all in on a dollar buying frenzy after the CPI number, but the lack of follow-through was very telling, and the quick rebound stopped out all those newly minted positions and then some. The markets sold AUD, NZD heavily at the lows and then got summarily spanked when traders started to factor in the conflicting data prints.

While the Strong CPI reading does present a hawkish risk for the Feds dot plots in March, the miss in the US retail sales data has the street scrambling to revise GDP estimates lower.The divergent data stream has escalated the market debate of critical importance, specifically is it inflation or growth that will dictate the Fed pace of interest rate normalisation?

But the bottom line for the US  dollar in my view, amidst rising inflation the prospect of increasing deficits, both trade and budget, should weigh like an anvil around  the dollar bulls neck

Equity markets

In seemingly absurd fashion, US equity investors ignored the inflationary signals and focused on weaker-than-expected US retail sales report.  There is an increasing possibility that the Powell may blink and the Feds will be more hesitant to guide monetary policy given the waning growth narrative.
Gold Markets 

Higher US inflation combined with the USD exhibiting zero correlation to higher interest rates amidst burdening duel deficits should play out favourably for Gold markets. The weaker dollar narrative is playing out most favourably across, the broader commodity space and gold demand could surge and push above this year’s highs.  Also,  the sustainability of the frothy equity market given the weak retail sales print suggest increasing gold equity hedges is a practical move.

Oil Markets 

A weaker dollar and verbal intervention from Saudi Energy minister who suggested significant oil producers would prefer tighter markets than end supply cuts too early has seen oil prices do an about-face. The Suadi signal is reasonably convincing suggesting  OPEC and their partners are committed to maintaining an absolute floor on oil prices

As indicated earlier in the week, the battle lines are forming around this key WTI 60.00 bpd as the Shale oil gusher will continue to weigh heavily on OPEC effort to blow out the worldwide glut.

However physical demand remains weak globally so traders will continue to monitor the USD /Oil price correlation and at first sign of flutter, it could signal a downdraft.
Currency Markets

Japanese Yen

With the Interest rate to FX correlation is in “Neverland”, It could be open season on USDJPY after convincingly crossing the 107 USDJPY Rubicon. If the market focuses aggressively shift to the US’s duelling deficit amid higher inflation, the dollar days are numbered in the 107’s if we factor in an expected Exporter flow panic which could be exacerbated by push Japanese investors to raise their hedge ratios on US investments fearing a further fall in the greenback.

While we should expect the usual verbal lashing from Japan’s currency officials, I suspect we are still ways off from overt intervention

The Austrailian Dollar

It’s always good to go into critical economic data with a plan B even if it’s from outer space.  Expect the unexpected and today we see  Aussie is benefiting from resurgent Commodities and US dollar weakness as the greenback is showing no correlation to higher US rates.

Malaysian Ringgit

A weaker US dollar, rebounding commodity prices have the MYR sitting well supported by yesterday’s robust GDP print adding good measure

Dollar weakness is seeping in the USDJPY and USDCNH which will provide a positive backdrop for regional currency markets, and we should expect the MYR to be one of the keys go to currencies as positions remain under positioned post-January monetary policy meeting.  Higher US interest rates are showing little obstacle for regional currency appreciation so the MYR should benefit

Not to weave a cautionary tales but liquidy is a bit thin given in regional markets given the proximity of China Lunar New Year so best to be nimble in these conditions

U.S. CPI Rises More Than Forecast on Apparel Costs

U.S. consumer prices rose by more than projected in January as apparel costs jumped the most in nearly three decades, adding to signs of an inflation pickup that have roiled financial markets this month.

The consumer price index rose 0.5 percent from the previous month, above the median estimate of economists for a 0.3 percent increase, a Labor Department report showed Wednesday. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, the so-called core gauge increased 0.3 percent, also above forecasts for 0.2 percent. It was up 1.8 percent from a year earlier, higher than the 1.7 percent estimate.

The figures may renew investor concerns that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at a faster pace than anticipated, after wage figures earlier this month sent Treasury yields spiking and started a rout in equities that pushed them into the first correction in two years. The 1.7 percent monthly gain in apparel prices, which account for about 3 percent of the CPI, was the biggest since 1990.

Other items contributing to the gain in CPI included rents and owners’ equivalent rent, which both rose 0.3 percent from December; medical care, up 0.4 percent; and motor vehicle insurance, which advanced 1.3 percent, the most since 2001.

The increase in the core CPI brought the three-month annualized gain to 2.9 percent, the fastest since 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Retail Sales

A separate report showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in January and December figures were revised downward, suggesting consumer spending is on a slower track in the first quarter.

Including all items, the main CPI gauge rose 2.1 percent from a year earlier, the same pace as in December and exceeding forecasts for a 1.9 percent increase.

The report follows the Labor Department’s annual revisions to CPI last week that took the December monthly increase in the core index down to 0.2 percent, from an initially reported 0.3 percent. The December gain in the main index was revised upward to 0.2 percent from 0.1 percent.

Policy makers look at the core index to better gauge underlying inflation because food and energy prices tend to be volatile. The latest report showed energy prices rose 3 percent from the previous month and food costs advanced 0.2 percent.

The two main U.S. stock indexes endured wild swings last week on concerns that inflation would spur higher interest rates more quickly, boosting borrowing costs for companies. Even so, equities have recovered some ground, advancing for three trading sessions in a row through Tuesday.

Fed Outlook

While economists and investors have seen a Fed interest-rate hike in March as a near-certainty, the details of the latest CPI report could play a role in the timing and number of rate increases throughout 2018.

The central bank’s preferred gauge of inflation — a separate figure based on consumer purchases and issued by the Commerce Department — has mostly missed its 2 percent goal in the past five years. The measure excluding food and energy is also below the Fed’s target. January data are due for release on March 1.

Fed policy makers will also have February CPI data in hand before they next meet March 20-21 in Jerome Powell’s first gathering as chairman. Powell, speaking Tuesday at his ceremonial swearing-in, suggested that the central bank would push ahead with gradual interest-rate increases, and that officials “remain alert to any developing risks to financial stability.”

Retail sales fell 0.3 percent in January from the previous month, the most since February 2017, according to the Commerce Department, compared with the median estimate of economists for a 0.2 percent increase. December’s figures were revised to show little change, after an initially reported gain of 0.4 percent.

Other Details

  • Wireless-phone service prices fell 0.2 percent
  • Used-vehicle prices posted a 0.4 percent increase last month; the index for new vehicle costs fell 0.1 percent
  • The price of airfares fell 0.6 percent, the third straight drop
  • Cost of lodging away from home fell 2 percent
  • Average hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, rose 0.8 percent from a year earlier, according to separate report Wednesday from Labor Department
  • The CPI is the broadest of three price gauges from the Labor Department because it includes all goods and services; about 60 percent of the index covers the prices that consumers pay for services ranging from medical visits to airline fares, movie tickets and rents

    Bloomberg

    Will it be a Valentines Day Massacre for the Dollar?

    Wednesday February 14: Five things the markets are talking about

    Are financial markets justified going from a growth story to an inflation narrative?

    Today’s U.S consumer price index (08:30 am) is being touted as one of the most significant economic releases in a number of years as capital markets seek to understand the recent plunges in global equities and sovereign bonds.

    With investors already on edge, they are expected to renew this months convulsion on any sign that U.S inflation is exceeding expectations at a rate that may entice the Fed to quicken its plans for tightening monetary policy.

    Already this month, after a stronger U.S non-farm payroll (NFP) print and wage numbers, investors have sent U.S Treasury yields aggressively higher and instigated a rout in equities that pushed them into the first correction in 18-months.

    Note: Market expectations are looking for the core-CPI (ex-food and energy) to rise +1.7% in January y/y compared with the +1.8% increase in December. U.S retail sales are also out this morning and are expected to have increased for a fifth consecutive month.

    A higher CPI will give the USD strength, lead to higher yields and lower equity prices, but a tepid headline print could cause more of a problem, especially with record short U.S 10-year treasury position and a market focusing on President Trump’s proposed budget and the rise in U.S twin deficits.

    Note: Lunar New Year celebrations for the Year of the Dog begin, affecting China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Chinese mainland markets are closed Feb. 15-21.

    1. Stocks mixed reaction

    In Japan, the Nikkei share average dropped to a fresh four-month low overnight as investor sentiment was again sapped by worries about U.S inflation data due this morning. The Nikkei ended -0.4% lower, its lowest closing since early October. The broader Topix fell -0.8%.

    Down-under, the Aussie S&P/ASX 200 index fell -0.3%, following a +0.6% rise on Tuesday. In S. Korea the Kospi closed out the overnight session up +1.1%, helped by a +3% jump in Samsung.

    In Hong Kong, shares rebound sharply ahead of Lunar New Year holiday. Trading will resume on Feb 20. At close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up +2.27%, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose +2.14%.

    In China, stocks rebounded overnight, but volumes were thin, as many traders had already left for the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday. Chinese markets will reopen on Feb. 22. At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up + 0.46%, while the blue-chip CSI300 index was up +0.8%.

    In Europe, regional indices trade higher across the board following a rebound in Wall Street yesterday and strength in U.S futures this morning.

    U.S stocks are set to open in the black (+0.4%).

    Indices: Stoxx600 +0.7% at 373.2, FTSE +0.7% at 7216, DAX +0.7% at 12286, CAC-40 +0.6% at 5139, IBEX-35 +0.5% at 9693, FTSE MIB +0.2% at 22071, SMI +0.9% at 8832, S&P 500 Futures -+0.4%

    2. Oil dips on looming oversupply and weak U.S dollar, gold higher

    Oil prices have dipped overnight, pressured by lingering oversupply including rising U.S inventories. However, the prospect of Saudi output dropping next month, economic growth hopes and a weaker U.S dollar all combined to limit losses.

    Brent crude futures are at +$62.68 per barrel, down -4c. Brent was above +$70 a barrel earlier this month. U.S West Texas Intermediate crude futures are at +$59.06 a barrel, down -13c from yesterday’s close. WTI was trading above +$65 in early February.

    On Wednesday, the Saudi energy ministry said that Saudi Aramco’s crude output in March would be -100k bpd below this month’s level while exports would be kept below +7m bpd.

    Stateside, yesterday’s API report showed that U.S crude inventories rose by +3.9m barrels in the week to Feb. 9, to +422.4m.

    Note: That is due to soaring U.S crude production, which has jumped by over +20% since mid-2016 to more than +10m bpd, surpassing that of top exporter Saudi Arabia and coming within reach of Russia, the world’s biggest producer.

    Oil traders will take their cue from today’s EIA print (10:30 am EDT) and U.S inflation release.

    Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have rallied for a third consecutive session overnight to hit a one-week high, buoyed by a weaker U.S dollar, while the market awaits U.S inflation data for clues on the pace of future Fed rate increases. Spot gold is up +0.3% at +$1,332 an ounce.

    3. Sovereign yields little changed

    Earlier this morning, Sweden’s Central Bank (Riksbank) kept their repo rate unchanged at -0.5%. Deputy governor Henry Ohlsson voted to raise rates, but the central bank’s signals on inflation were more downbeat. The inflation forecast for this year was downgraded to +1.8% from +2%. The statement indicated that policy makers would start raising the rate in H2 of 2018. Policy makers stressed that was important not to raise the rate too early and was committed to stimulus to prevent inflation setbacks.

    Elsewhere, fixed income seeks guidance from today’s U.S CPI release. The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries fell less than -1 bps to +2.83%. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield declined -2 bps to +0.74%, while in the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield dipped -1 bps to +1.618%. In Japan, the 10-year JGB yield decreased -1 bps to +0.07%, the lowest in more than five weeks.

    4. Dollar on soft footing

    The USD remains on soft footing ahead of key Jan CPI data for the U.S.

    The EUR/USD is steady, trading atop of the €1.2350 area after various European GDP data highlighted better economic growth prospects (see below).

    USD/JPY tested ¥106.85 overnight for 15-month lows. The pair came off its worst level to approach 107.50 just ahead of the N.Y session after Japanese officials reiterated that they had no comments on forex levels.

    In S. Africa, political optimism that President Zuma would resign has sent the ZAR currency to its best level in nearly two-years outright. The South African Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Maimane (opposition) has stated that its motion to dissolve parliament was processed by Speaker. USD/ZAR is at $11.85 ahead of the open stateside.

    The Swedish krona has been volatile after the Riksbank interest rate decision. The krona briefly rose soon after the announcement, but has since pared those gains EUR/SEK last trades flat on the day at €9.9163, compared with €9.8952 before the decision.

    5. Euro-zone economy ends 2017 on a high note

    Note: There were a number of European GDP releases in the Euro session highlighting better economic growth prospects – Germany mixed; Netherlands beat and Italy a miss.

    Industry helped drive the euro-zone’s +0.6% expansion in Q4. This morning’s ‘flash’ estimate of Q4 GDP is the second release and confirms that quarterly growth slowed a tad from Q3’s +0.7% to +0.6%.

    There is no breakdown until the next release; however, expenditure evidence would suggest that weaker consumer spending growth was the main driver of the slowdown, while investment expanded after Q3’s contraction and net trade again made a positive contribution to growth.

    Digging deeper, industry appears to have made a stronger contribution to GDP growth than in Q3. Following the consensus-beating +0.4% monthly rise in IP in December.

    Forex heatmap