The US dollar is
sporting a softer profile today. It had initially extended its gains
after recovering in North America yesterday. In Japanese candlestick terms the
euro and sterling had recorded "shooting stars", in essence opening
on their highs and finishing on their lows. Additional profit-taking was
seen in Asia, earlier today. The euro was pushed below its 20-day moving
average for the first time since Dec 11. Sterling fared better but still
extended yesterday's losses. However, in the European morning, both
currencies have recovered to move back into yesterday's ranges.
The price action can be
attributed to thinning market conditions and the recovery of the yen.
Indeed, "sell the rumor buy the fact" gains in the yen, may
have pressured the other currencies as cross positions were also unwound.
The dollar has stabilized after slipping through the JPY84.20 area to
trade below the previous day's low for the first time since Dec 10.
The BOJ did what had
been generally expected. It increased its version of QE for the third
time in four months. The JPY10 trillion increase, evenly divided between
JGBs and T-bills, brings the program to JPY101 trillion, to be completed by the
end of 2013. The decision was unanimous. There was a weak attempt
to get rid of the current 10 bp paid on bank reserves (lost 8-1).
Although the newly elected government, which has yet to take office, took
credit for the BOJ decision, it is a bit more complicated. The BOJ did
not adopt an open-ended stance. Nor did it change its inflation target,
though said it will review it in January. Lastly, the BOJ cut its
Sterling had drawn
within ticks of the year's high yesterday (~$1.6309 set on Sept 21) but beat a
hasty retreat. However, despite poor Nov retail sales, is poised to
challenge that area again. The unchanged report compares with consensus
expectations for a 0.3% increase. The 0.9% year-over-year pace is the
weakest sine April. Anecdotal reports suggest the holiday shopping season
is off to a soft start.
The Australian dollar
has under-performed in recent days. It has been approaching the $1.06
level last week, but has for the fourth consecutive session recorded lower
highs. Nevertheless, buyers emerged in front of $1.0460 today and the
Aussie appears poised to reclaim the $1.05 level. Its recovery, like
sterling, seems to be despite the news stream not because of it. In
particular, Australia's Treasurer Swan conceded that a it will not be able to
deliver a budget surplus this year, as previously hoped, which was part of
Prime Minister Gillard's re-election pitch. The election will be held in
Italy is moving toward
approval of the 2013 budget. This will be the last action before it is
dissolved to make way for what appears to be a late February election.
The dissolution of parliament is also seen as the precondition for Monti
to declare his intentions. Contacts in Rome suggest that Monti will
likely lead a centrist coalition (UDC). To be sure, the polls suggest
Monti unlikely to win, but it may help ensure that a center-right coalition of
the PDL and Northern League will not win, which means that a greater part of
the technocrat government's reforms will not be dismantled.
Although Monti's root
are in the center-right, the stronger support for his agenda has come from the
center-left. The PD leader and former communist Bersani for obvious
reasons did not want Monti to run, but has since reconciled himself to it and
now sees that may actually increase his chances of being Prime Minister.
While there is still some talk that in a PD-led government Monti would be
offered the opportunity to be the next President, the more recent discussions
suggest Monti would be finance minister.
Lastly, turning to
Greece, comments by the finance minister yesterday warning the a Grexit is
still possible next year, seemed to have cut short the huge rally (post the
second restructuring) in Greek government bonds. However, the comments
seemed aimed at a domestic audience to underpin the resolve in the hard work
that remains. Meanwhile, poor bank earnings and reports that the IMF
continues to balk over aid to Cyprus is taking a toll on the financial sector