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FOMC Meeting Minutes Keeps US Dollar in Check

The US Dollar continued its weak streak as the FOMC meeting minutes from September showed that the Fed's voting members were largely concerned with lack of inflation shedding doubts on whether the US inflation will reach the Fed’s 2.0% target inflation rate. Citing uncertainty from China, the FOMC decided to keep rates unchanged and a stronger Greenback which has put a drag on exports. The US Dollar continued to remain week since the NFP data released a week earlier disappointed. Expectations continue to fade on the prospects of an October rate hike, leaving only the November and December FOMC meetings. The fed funds futures expectations also continue to fall on the probability of a rate hike in 2015, casting doubts on whether the US Federal Reserve would be able to hike rates in 2015, if at all.

Weekly Review

The Japanese Yen was the weakest currency followed by the US Dollar. The weak Greenback led the markets to load up on risk as the AUD and the NZD posted strong rallies this week. Gold prices posted a 5-week high this week, briefly flirting near the highs of 1160 after prices tested the lows near 1106 a week before. It was the same story across all or most commodity assets. Crude oil futures gained nearly 8.48% for the week, closing near a 10 week high of $49.49. The strong rally in Crude oil comes after prices were trading sideways for nearly 5 weeks. The weak data also saw the US equity markets rally with the S&P500 futures closing above the $2000 handle on Friday, posting gains of 3.24%.

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The Week Ahead

Inflation data from Germany, France and the Eurozone is due this week and one which is likely to garner some attention. With inflation staying low as per the flash estimates, there has been growing speculation that the ECB could expand its QE program beyond 2016. While ECB Chief, Mario Draghi has remained cautious on the issue, the recent ECB meeting minutes do reflect the fact that the Central Bank would not hesitate to expand its bond purchase program beyond the initial deadline of September 2016. In this aspect, the inflation numbers this week will be of key importance. There is no change expected with the Eurozone final CPI expected to stay put at -0.1% while the core annualized CPI is expected to be at 0.9%. From the UK, the monthly CPI numbers are due followed by the jobs report a day later. While inflation is likely to remain subdued, a surprise print could however see the Cable strengthen further. On the jobs front, expectations are tame as far as the unemployment rate is concerned, but the median estimates on the average earnings index call for a rise of 3.1%, which is a bit hawkish. Failure to match the estimates could see the GBP take a hit in the near term. From the US, retail sales numbers and inflation data is due this week. The retail sales data is expected to be mixed on the core and the headline and is unlikely to see much of a reaction from the markets. However, market participants could be looking at the data for clues into the US consumer spending trends in order to gauge the economic activity. Later in the week, the monthly inflation numbers are due. On the core annualized CPI expectations are strong for core inflation to have remained unchanged at 1.8%. If data matches the estimates, it would mark a fourth month of core inflation coming in unchanged after a brief dip to 1.7% in June this year. With Crude oil prices trading sideways over the past month, there is scope for the headline annualized CPI to post an upside surprise as current expectations expect to see inflation drop by -0.1% on an annualized basis. Winding up the week however will be the University of Michigan inflation expectations, which was previously at 2.8%. A decline in inflation expectations is likely to send a very dovish tone to the markets putting further pressure on the Dollar.

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