Sterling and Yen Edge Higher

Sterling and the yen are gaining against the dollar while the other major currencies are little changed, and emerging currencies are mixed.  Sterling's has gained about 0.35%, mostly in the European morning, and appears largely driven by demand on the crosses, especially the euro.   It is still within the pre-weekend ranges against the US dollar and euro.  

The yen has been lifted by the decline in equities and US yields.  The dollar had appeared to break higher before the weekend, but succumbed into the close, dragged down by the reversal in stocks.  The bottom of the triangle pattern that the dollar has been carving out since last August is found near JPY119.30 today.  

There are four developments to note to start the week.  First, China reported a sharp 8.8% decline in industrial profits.  This follows a 2.9% decline in July.  It is the largest decline in at least four years.  Profits in the resource sector have been particularly hard hit.  Profits from coal mining are off nearly 65%, and oil and gas by more than 67%.  Falling prices, low return on investment (excess capacity) and exchange rates, are the main considerations.  This report underscores the economic headwinds in China.   It has fanned speculation of a stronger policy response, with talk of a new 10-point plan to be unveiled shortly.    The PMIs are the main economic data points this week, and then China's markets close for a few days in early October. 

Second, the Catalonian election results stopped short of an overwhelming victory from the secessionists.  The main coalition for independence secured 62 of 135 seats in the regional parliament and garnered just shy of 40% of the vote.  The left CUP took another 8.4% of the popular vote for 10 seats in parliament. The CUP had previously said it would not support Mas as regional president.   It is not clear, though, is Spain's Prime Minister Rajoy is the big winner.  Voting in Catalonia shows the Popular Party lost about half of its representation, with the Ciudadanos rose sharply (three-fold) as the main beneficiary of the unionist vote.  Spanish assets have responded well to the electoral outcome.  The IBEX is off by 0.25% while most of the bourses in Europe are off around 1.5%.  Ten year Spanish bond yields are off 9 bp, which is 5-6 bp more than other EMU sovereigns. 

Third, the IMF signaled it will cut its world GDP forecasts again next month.  IMF's Lagarde did not provide specifics, but she did indicate that the 3.3% forecast for this year and 3.8% for 2016 are no longer appropriate.  Lagarde hinted that the new forecasts will still be above 3%.   She spoke of the recovery pace decelerating, primarily emanating from the emerging markets. 

Fourth, Sweden announced disappointing economic news, and the krona is one of the worst performing major currencies, losing about 0.4% against the dollar and almost as much against the euro.  The SEK3.6 bln August trade deficit was the largest shortfall since last August.  Exports fell by almost SEK1 bln while imports rose SEK2.4 bln.  Retail sales were expected to have risen by 0.1%, according to the Bloomberg survey.  Instead they fell 1.7%, and the July series was revised to 0.2% from 0.5%. 

The North American session is chock full of data and events.  Of the events, we note that Obama and Putin will meet at the UN General Assembly.  NASA is expected to make a big announcement about water below the surface of Mars.   Two Fed officials will speak during the session (Dudley and Evans), and Wiliams will speak after the markets close.  Dudley, who provided insight in August, suggesting a hike was "less compelling" may be of greater interest than Evans, who is one of the doves who does not favor a hike this year. 

 In terms of data, personal income and consumption figures for August will help shape Q3 GDP forecasts.   Atlanta Fed's GDP Nowcasting has the economy tracking about 1.4% growth.  The consensus is near 2.5%.  The Fed's targeted measure of inflation, the deflator of core personal consumption expenditures, is expected to tick up to 1.3% from 1.2%.  August pending home sales are expected to show that the headwinds in the housing market continue to dissipate.  The Dallas Fed manufacturing index for September is expected  improvement from -15.8 to -10.0.  Given the stress in the energy patch, the risk is for disappointment. 


Sterling and Yen Edge Higher Sterling and Yen Edge Higher Reviewed by Marc Chandler on September 28, 2015 Rating: 5
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