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Forex Blog - US Dollar: What is the Fed Waiting For?

US Dollar: What is the Fed Waiting For? Last Updated 10/7/2008 5:47:23 PM EST (GMT +5)

TODAY’S BIGGEST PERCENTAGE MOVERS

EUR/NZD ( +270 pips or +1.26%)

EUR/AUD ( +220 pips or +1.15%)

EUR/USD ( +105 pips or 0.79%)

THE STORIES IN THE CURRENCY MARKET

  • USD: WHAT IS THE FED WAITING FOR?
  • EUR: WILL THE REBOUND IN THE EURO LAST?
  • GBP: BAILOUT PACKAGE EXPECTED FROM THE UK
  • JPY: USDJPY HEADED FOR 100
  • CAD: OIL PRICES AT $89
  • AUD: MORE RATE CUTS EXPECTED FROM AUSTRALIA
  • NZD: HITS 2 YEAR LOW BEFORE RECOVERING

EXPECTATIONS FOR UPCOMING FED MEETINGS

 

** PERCENTAGES MAY NOT ADD UP TO 100% BECAUSE OF THE PROBABILITY OF LARGER OR SMALLER MOVES BEYOND THOSE SHOWN ON THIS TABLE

US DOLLAR: WHAT IS THE FED WAITING FOR?

Before the US stock markets opened this morning, the Federal Reserve announced a plan to buy commercial paper directly from issuers in yet another attempt to unfreeze the credit markets. Although this led to a rally in US stocks, USD/JPY and other carry trades, the rally was short-lived. Having been up as much as 165 points intraday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the US trading session down 508 points. For the Federal Reserve and the US economy, the new commercial paper funding facility is a step in the right direction because it lends directly to business sector. However what the Fed ceases to realize is that the lack of liquidity comes from the lack of confidence and so far, their approaches have been too conservative to warrant a recovery in confidence. We have been calling for coordinated easing by central banks around the world, but the Reserve Bank of Australia has now raised the bar by cutting interest rates 100bp. In response to the turn in equity markets, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has finally buckled when he said that the Federal Reserve is ready to cut interest rates. Unfortunately a quarter point rate cut at this point is not enough, especially when compared to Australia’s full percentage point cut. If the Fed had surprised the markets with a 25bp rate cut last week after the House’s approval of the bailout plan, that one-two punch to the credit crisis may have done the trick, but now the Fed needs to do more if they want to put an end to the hemorrhaging that we have seen across the financial markets.

Is the Fed Waiting for the G7 Meeting?

One possible reason why the Federal Reserve has yet to cut interest rates may be because they are saving ammo for Friday’s G7 meeting. According to the comments by ECB member Quaden this morning, the Federal Reserve’s counterparts in Europe are also ready to cut interest rates. As we have seen by the Fed’s commercial paper announcement, the Bank of England’s plan to inject capital into as much as GBP 45B into banks and Spain’s EUR 50B bank rescue fund, fractured responses are not working. A signal of solidarity and coordinated interest rate cuts by central banks around the world is the minimum that the markets need in order to reverse the current trend. US stocks continue to sell off with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling to the lowest level in 5 years. Bernanke’s comment about possibility cutting interest rates has not helped the US dollar or US equities because Investors want less talk and more action.

What to Expect for the US Dollar

The US dollar continues to behave very differently against the Japanese Yen and every other major currency. Although the dollar weakened against the Yen, it has soared the Euro, British pound and Australian dollar. In fact, year to date, the only currency that has outperformed the US dollar is the Japanese Yen. The reason for this divergence is because interest rate expectations are once again the primary drivers of currency prices. The US is expected to cut interest rates aggressively over the next 12 months, but the verdict is out on whether rates would fall as low as 1 percent. For the Eurozone, 100bp of easing has already been priced into the markets while traders are expecting 150bp of easing from the Bank of England by next October. Even the Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to cut another full percentage point. The Federal Reserve has been cutting interest rates since last August so they only have a limited amount of room to ease whereas the last move made by the European Central Bank in July was an interest rate hike. Therefore we expect the dollar to continue to fall against the Japanese Yen but strengthen against the Euro, British pound and Australian dollars.

Why Commercial Paper

For our readers who may be confused by the Fed’s action in commercial paper, it is important to understand that the commercial paper market is where companies go to raise short term money to buy inventory, meet payroll obligations and pay bills. In recent weeks the commercial paper market has been under a lot of stress due to the lack of buyers for the commercial paper, making it difficult for companies to meet their day to day obligations. The Fed’s hope is their willingness to be the buyer of last resort will help to tie these companies over and prevent bankruptcies, making investors more confident in the process. Meanwhile the FOMC minutes revealed that the Fed was considering cutting interest rates last month. The world has changed quite a bit since September 16 and even if the minutes were hawkish, the Fed has no choice but to cut interest rates – it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

BAILOUT PACKAGE EXPECTED FROM THE UK

The spotlight will be on the United Kingdom tomorrow as the Bank of England is expected to unveil a large bank rescue plan before their markets open tomorrow morning. The talk on the street is that the plan could be as much as GBP 45B or $78B dollars. The UK government and the Bank of England have learned quickly that increasing their guarantee for bank deposits and nationalizing a few banks is not enough in this type of market. A bailout plan is the next logical step for the UK government followed by an interest rate cut on Thursday. Given the continual sell-off in the equity markets and the rise in risk aversion, it is realistic to expect a 50bp rate cut from the Bank of England. This could come as a one shot deal on Thursday or 25bp on Thursday followed by 25bp on Friday if there is coordinated action by the G7. The UK has been reluctant to agree to an EU bailout package that commits their tax payer dollars to a program that they have no control over. Instead, they have been big proponents of individual actions by the member states which is exactly what we will be seeing tomorrow. Monetary policy on the hand may be easier to agree on and even if the BoE cuts rates on Thursday, they could cut again alongside their international counterparts.

WILL THE REBOUND IN THE EURO LAST?

A dead cat bounce drove the EUR/USD higher today but given the sell-off in US stocks, the rally may not last. The currency pair gave back more than half of its gains before closing the US session up 100 pips. Although the monthly change in factory orders were much stronger than the market expected, there was a big drop compared to a year ago. We still believe that industrial production could be weak. At the last monetary policy meeting, ECB President Trichet suggested to the markets that he is open to cutting interest rates and this bias was echoed by one the members in the monetary policy committee today. With the Federal Reserve set to cut interest rates at the same time as the ECB, the fate of the EUR/USD will depend upon who cuts interest rates more and how fast. In the long run, we expect a deeper rate cut from the ECB than the Fed but the Fed could be more aggressive about cutting interest rates initially. Ultimately, we still expect more weakness in the EUR/USD.

MORE RATE CUTS EXPECTED FROM AUSTRALIA

The Reserve Bank of Australia surprised the markets last night by cutting interest rates 100bp. This topped the larger than expected 50bp rate cut by New Zealand last month. Although the Australian dollar did not sell-off materially following the release, we do expect the currency to resume its weakness against the US dollar and the Japanese Yen as the traders readjust their interest rate expectations. The interest rate differential between Australia and the US has fallen from 5 to 4 percent. That differential is expected to decline further as the RBA sees no reason to move away from their easier monetary policy. Not much focus has been given to Canada but it is important to realize that the market is pricing in interest rate cuts from the Bank of Canada as well. Australian consumer confidence is due for release this evening along with Canadian housing starts. These are not market moving numbers for either currency.

USDJPY HEADED FOR 100

With the Dow tumbling an additional 500 points, we expect USD/JPY to make another test of 100. Since the beginning of the year, there has been a strong correlation between USD/JPY and US equities and there is no reason for that correlation to change anytime soon. Furthermore, an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve will weigh heavily on the currency pair. Unlike other central banks around the world, the Bank of Japan has its hands tied. Although we expect coordinated action by the Group of Seven, we do not expect the Bank of Japan to participate in a round of monetary easing. With interest rates at 50bp, there is not much room for them to go lower. Also, their cooperation may not be needed since the market is really looking to the Fed, ECB and BoE for cohesive action.

GBP/USD: Currency Pair in Play Over the Next 24 Hours

The GBP/USD remains the currency pair in play over the next 24 hours with a bailout package expected to be announced before the UK markets open tomorrow morning.

As we indicated yesterday, technically, GBP/USD is trading in our sell zone which is determined with the use of Bollinger Bands. The GBP/USD continued lower to hit a new 2 year low of 1.7319, but the hope of a bailout plan has led to a recovery. There is scope for a bounce to 1.76, the first standard deviation Bollinger band and the 23.6 percent Fibonacci retracement of the September sell-off, but the key level to watch is 1.7720. If the GBP/USD fails to close above that price level, we could see a rally back towards 1.7850 followed by a move to 1.80. Alternatively, traders could position for a short near 1.7630 with a stop at 1.7720.

 

 

About The Author

Lien has extensive knowledge within the interbank market, particularly in trading spot FX and options. She has written for numerous publications, is frequently quoted on financial media outlets, and is the author of several books, including Millionaire Traders. Read more >>


DISCLAIMER: This forum and the information provided here should not be relied upon as a substitute for extensive independent research before making your investment decisions. Global Forex Trading is merely providing this column for your general information. This forum and its information does not take into account any particular individual’s investment objectives, financial situation, or needs. All investors should obtain advice based on their unique situation before making any investment decision based upon this forum or any information contained within. In addition, any projections or views of the market provided by the author may not prove to be accurate. Global Forex Trading and Kathy will not be responsible for any losses incurred on investments made by readers and clients as a result of any information contained in this column. Global Forex Trading and Kathy do not render investment, legal, accounting, tax or other professional advice. If such advice is sought, or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.




 

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