Dollar Powers Ahead

Marc To Market's picture

The US dollar finished last week well bid. It is at six week highs against the euro. It recovered from the brief dip at the start of the week below JPY103 and finished the week above JPY104.00. The Australian dollar fell to new multi-year lows, as did the Canadian dollar. Most emerging market currencies also fell. 


The notable exception to this general pattern was sterling. Strong retail sales helped ease some anxiety that had been creeping in about sustainability of the UK’s expansion.


It was the apparent resiliency of the UK and US economies that was the main fundamental development in recent days. The poor US jobs data had sparked some speculation that the economy was sufficiently fragile that the Federal Reserve would have to re-think its tapering tactics that it just had unveiled last month. The combination of the healthy gain in a key component of retail sales (excluding autos, gasoline and building materials), stronger than expected regional Fed surveys (Empire and Philly) and a Beige Book that seemed to slightly upgrade the economic assessment, pointed in the direction of continued exit from QE. A number of Fed officials, not of all who are voting members on the FOMC, encouraged this conclusion by investors.


Before the weekend, the euro slumped to almost $1.3500. It finished the North American session below its 100-day moving average (~$1.3665) for the first time since September. A break of this area could open trigger a new wave of long liquidation that could carry the single currency toward $1.3450. The euro’s technical condition has deteriorated and the five days average is trending below that 20-day average.


As poor as the euro’s technical readings are, sterling’s are positive. The RSI an MACD are turning higher. Sterling stalled in front of the $1.6460 area, which corresponds to a 50% retracement of the losses seen since the multi-year high above $1.6600 was seen briefly on the first trading session of the year. A move above $1.6500-20 is needed to signal the resumption of the uptrend. Support has been established in front of $1.6300.


The greenback also finished last week above its 100-day moving average against the Swiss franc (~CHF0.9075), an area it has been flirting with, but for which it was unable to sustain a convincing break. The CHF0.9130 area offers immediate resistance.


The dollar finished the week little changed against the yen, but this overlooks the ride it took. It first fell to JPY102.85 in follow through selling after the US employment report, but proceeded to recover back to almost JPY105 as the dollar buying strategy on pullbacks continues to be seen. The RSI and MACDs are still pointing lower, but rather than signal a new leg down in the dollar, we suspect a consolidation phase is more likely.


The technical condition of the dollar-bloc currencies is poor and the Canadian dollar is challenging the Australian dollar for leadership of decline. Economic data from both countries have encouraged rate cut speculation. The Bank of Canada meets next week. A rate cut is highly unlikely, though dovish comments by the central bank are likely. This could trigger a bout of short-covering, perhaps on a sell-the-rumor-and-buy-the-fact type of activity. Key support for the US dollar is seen in the CAD1.0880-CAD1.0900 area.


Australia reports Q4 CPI figures and a subdued report could fan rate cut expectations. The Australian dollar traced out a big outside down week and many market participants are looking for $0.8500 in the coming weeks. Ironically, the New Zealand dollar was dragged lower, even though the market sees a growing risk of a rate hike at the end of the month. The $0.8500 area now marks important resistance and the Kiwi can make its way toward $0.8100.


The US dollar trended higher against the Mexican peso last week and reached its best level since September.  It has approached the upper end of the Q4 '13 trading range.  Although the technical indicators are not generating strong signals, we suspect the market has moved too far too fast.  The dollar closed marginally above its Bollinger Band (+/- 2 standard deviations around the 20-day moving average).   Support is seen near MXN13.15.  The  top of the range appears to be around MXN13.3450.  


Outside of the currencies we usually review here, we observe among the clearest technical signal may be that the euro is poised to weaken against the Swedish krona. It has traced out a large head and shoulders pattern and finished last week below the neckline. The left shoulder was carved in mid-November near SEK9.00. The head was put in place in mid-December near SEK9.10. The right shoulder was formed in the first half of this month. The neckline can be found around SEK8.82. If this is indeed a valid pattern, the measuring objective is near last summer lows around SEK8.55.


Observations from the speculative positioning in the CME currency futures:


1. The net speculative position switched from long to short Swiss francs.  It is the first net short position in 5 months. It was more the result of longs being cut (6.2k contracts) than shorts being added (+1.5k contracts).


2.  The net speculative Canadian dollar position stands at a new record short of 67.3k contracts.  Gross shorts rose 10.5k contracts to 101.6k.  As noted above,  we suspect the Canadian dollar is vulnerable to a short squeeze after the central bank meeting on January 22.  


3.  In three of the seven currency futures we review here, there was a reduction of both gross shorts and longs (yen, Australian dollar and Mexican peso).  In the previous reporting period, there were four currencies were subject to such position adjustments  (yen, sterling, Swiss franc and Australian dollar).  


4.  There net long euro position fell for the third consecutive week.  The net short yen position was reduced for a third week as well. 

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dizzyfingers's picture

"But they can keep this afloat a lot longer then many may believe as long as we have the weapons and the world's reserve currency and if you think they wouldn't go to war to protect the power of the purse think again."

Hide children and young adults; don't let your kids volunteer.

disabledvet's picture

I firmly believe a strong dollar is the worst possible outcome from 2008...but that is exactly what we're gonna get. I've been musing for reasons why a "serial killing, hatchet wielding nut job Hitler dollar" has been in the making for many years now...God forbid if somehow I exemplify that ethos...but, yep...this is what we've got here. The "beautiful nightmare" view I have been espousing for many years now has the unfortunate value of having "macro data conditional realities" and not merely data "points" or "trends." We've forgotten about Cyprus here...which is unfortunate because not only has that put the stake in the heart for the Eurozone...but it was only reported on here and I really had a good time doing "the diabledvet chicken dance" on that catastrophe. But wait there's more! Fukushima? CATASTROPHE. Syria? CATASTROPHE. NSA? CATASTROPHE. And how has the USA responded? After becoming the world's biggest oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power producer in the span of just five years we're now popping off moon rockets like it's the 4th of July and are on the verge of crashing the metals ZERO. Ironically we're proceeding directly to the biggest batch of defaults in US history as well. "Some have sailed right through this thing like was a sunny cruise on the Med" however. In other words "that's your problem" is going to quickly become the operating principle for Americanus Maximus for quite some time. The odds of this result are so ridiculous I don't even know why I bother...other than to point out that strong moves higher in what has been a pretty much worthless piece of paper going on EXACTLY 30 years now is going to have MAJOR consequences for both the USA and the world for a long time to come. This country does a lot of things wrong...but when it does those few things right and those few things are the only things working...those few things become "right every time" in very short order. My personal view is that we're not onl doing those "few right things"...but we're throwing in "Space Travel" in the mix just for fun. I mean laughing gas and rubber(s) was all we needed? Incredible. We've spent of trillions of dollars trying to do what these crazy "dreamcatchers" did in the desert in just a couple of years. The implications for the dowsizing of Government are indeed profound....

The Wisp's picture

Question here Folks..

  if all of the Debt on the planet was reset.. Who Get's Screwed the Most

Who get's the Most advantage and Who Gets screwed.. because that looks like where we are heading One Big ass Reset

Rafferty's picture

The toiling peon and the responsible saver (often one and the same) will get screwed.  Was that a rhetorcial question?

LMAOLORI's picture



 "Who Get's Screwed the Most"

The average taxpaying Joe either way.


But they can keep this afloat a lot longer then many may believe as long as we have the weapons and the world's reserve currency and if you think they wouldn't go to war to protect the power of the purse think again.

Fuh Querada's picture

Just hang on to your Bollinger Bands....

Fuh Querada's picture

The trends described here are likely to continue until they level off or reverse.

ebworthen's picture

Currency strength is only a sign that a country is behind in the race to the bottom of currency debasement and Central Bank legerdemain.

It has nothing to do with retail sales or the "strength" of an economy.

Rafferty's picture

I'd have thought the USA, under Helicopter Ben's expert guidance, was clearly at the head of the Gadarene Swine.

TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

Once Yellen gets settled into her new office, the US will be able to play catch up.

disabledvet's picture

Can't "pay for anything" without inflation. The banks are sitting on all that "retained earnings" because if prices start falling...well, there really is no place to put that money to work now. Morgan/Stanley looks great here...when you see a rocket go up in space "they paid for that." The rest of the world is who is paying for the massive amount of debt we're issuing.