Weekly Radar: Dollar building steam?
FOMC/FRANCO-GERMAN SUMMIT/GERMAN-FRENCH-SPAIN AUCTIONS/GLOBAL FLASH PMIS FOR MARCH/UK BUDGET-JOBS-CPI-BOE MINS/ICC HEARING ON KENYATTA/SAFRICA RATES
The revved-up U.S. dollar – whose trade-weighted index is now up almost 5 percent in just six weeks – could well develop into one of the financial market stories of the year as the cyclical jump the United States has over the rest of G10 combines with growing attention being paid to the country’s potential “re-industrialisation”. As with all things FX, there’s a zillion ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ to the argument. Chief among them is many people’s assumption the Fed will be printing greenbacks well after this expansion takes hold as it targets a much lower jobless rate. Others doubt the much-vaunted return of the US Inc. back down the value chain into metal-bashing and manufacturing, while some feel the cheaper energy from the shale revolution and the lower structural trade deficits that promises will be short-lived as others catch up. However, with the dollar already super competitive (it’s down 30-40 percent on the Fed’s inflation-adjusted index over the past 10 years) the first set of arguments are more tempting. Even if you see the merits in both sides, the bull case clearly has not yet been discounted and may have further to go just to match the balance of risks. With Fed printing presses still on full throttle, this has been a slow burner to date and it may be a while yet before it gets up a head of steam — many feel it’s still more of a 2nd half of 2013 story and the dollar index needs to get above last year’s highs to get people excited. But if it does keep motoring, it has a potentially dramatic impact on the investment landscape and not necessarily a benign one, even if shifting correlations and the broader macro landscape show this is not the ‘stress trade’ of the short-lived dollar bounces of the past five years.
Commodities priced in dollars could well feel the heat from a steady dollar uptrend. And if gold’s spiral higher over the past six years has been in part due to the “dollar debasement” trade, then its recent sharp retreat may be less puzzling . Emerging market currencies pegged to the dollar will also feel the pressure as well as countries and companies who’ve borrowed heavily in greenbacks. The prospect of a higher dollar also has a major impact on domestic US investors willingness to go overseas, casting questions on countries with big current account gaps. As the dominant world reserve currency, a rising dollar effectively tightens financial conditions for everyone else and we’ve been used to a weakening one for a very long time.
Back to moment, stock markets around the world have continued to nudge new highs over the past week, with the upbeat US employment data underlining a still broadly positive global growth tilt even if Chinese data was more equivocal and Europe still looks dour. That said, at least the euro FX rate is going in the right direction for a change to help address the regional funk.
To keep a tally, global stocks are up almost 6 percent as the first quarter enters its final fortnight.
Next week, it will be hard to get beyond the FOMC and a heavy US data slate, though flash global PMIs for March will be critical in seeing whether the wobble in world business sentiment last month was a blip or a trend. The Franco-German summit in Berlin on Monday will be interesting to parse any new direction in euro policy and cooperation, with German/French and Spanish debt auctions throughout the week. Otherwise, it’s big five days for the UK economy with the government’s 2013 budget as well as jobless/inflation/retail/govt borrowing reports and BoE minutes . An ICC hearing on Kenyan election victor Kenyatta in the Hague on Monday will also need watching, with the latest South African rate decision on Wednesday a big moment next week in regional markets there.
Events and data to watch next week:
China annual parliament meeting ends Sun
Merkel/Hollande summit Berlin Mon
ICC hearing on Kenya’s Kenyatta, The Hague Mon
EZ Jan trade Mon
UK Feb inflation Tues
German March ZEW Tues
US Feb housing starts/permits Tues
German 10-yr bund auction Weds
UK Feb jobless Weds
EZ March consumer confidence Weds
UK 2013 budget Weds
BoE minutes Weds
EU’s Rehn at EU Parliament Committe Weds
FOMC decision/presser Weds
Obama visits Israel Weds
SAfrica/Iceland rate decisions Weds
Japan Feb trade Thurs
Global flash March PMIs Thurs
UK Feb retail sales/govt borrowing Thurs
French/Spanish bond auctions Thurs
US/UK index-linked bond auctions Thurs
Egypt rate decision Thurs
US March Philly Fed index/Feb existing home sales Thursday
German March Ifo/French March biz climate Fri