The Week Ahead: The Foreword on Going Forward

Foreign Exchange: The Week Ahead
The Foreword on Going Forward
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Andrew Kositkun
Andrew Kositkun
Foreign Exchange Head Trader
For many reasons, 2019 turned out to be a rare type of year. Chief among these reasons has been the stellar performance from both the equity and fixed income markets. On its own, this is an impressive feat but even more so when you consider that the global economy has slowed this past year. Looking at 2020, it is unlikely that we will see a repeat performance. This view, ironically, is despite recent headlines supporting a fading of downside risk.

On the positive side, Brexit risks appear to have subsided and the US and China are on track to complete a Phase 1 deal. While the rollback in tariffs are expected to be modest, it is still a significant step. Moreover, consumer consumption and the labor markets remain impressively resilient to the headwinds from manufacturing. To this last point, the industrial sectors in China and Europe are starting to show signs of stabilization.

Unfortunately, fewer downside risks does not always positive growth surprises. The global economy is starting from a lower point this time around than a year ago. While the euro area is expected to perform better this year, there are still structural issues and additional fiscal stimulus is unlikely in 2020. Additionally, China is unlikely to launch the type of stimulus it did in 2015-16 that created the foundation for the global recovery in 2017.

What this likely means is that we are looking at an unexciting year where growth is slightly stronger in 2020 than in 2019 but not anywhere near where it was in 2017. But of course, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. The risk factors that we touched on above are simply diminished and not resolved. The UK still needs to negotiate a trade deal with the EU, meaning a hard Brexit outcome is still possible, and US-China tensions will still remain even if a Phase 1 deal ultimately gets signed. So while there is hope for positive returns this year, good analysis and currency strategies are as important as ever.

FORECASTS

EUR

The foundation for EURUSD to move higher is starting to form. The reduction in trade and Brexit risks should benefit the EUR and weaken the dollar. Moreover, there are burgeoning signs of stabilization in European industrial production data. These factors should lead to scope for EURUSD to move higher by the end of 2020. In the near term, expect range trading as the markets wait to move past the holidays.

GBP

The GBP is roughly where it was pre-election. It's reasonable to say the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement should be a done deal, but the reality is that a hard Brexit outcome still remains on the table should the two sides fail to reach a trade deal and not extend the transition period. As such, expect volatility to remain elevated and gains to be capped.

JPY

The JPY has been on a weakening trend since September 1 coinciding with the resumption of U.S. – China trade talks. But over the past month, the JPY is unchanged as U.S. interest rates have stabilized. Looking at 2020, the BoJ is likely on hold for the near future as it assesses the impact of fiscal stimulus. With both the Fed and BoJ on hold, expect USDJPY to continue to range trade.

CAD

The Canadian dollar has had a run of disappointing data that supports the narrative of a slowing economy as temporary tailwinds fade and the global slowdown weighs on the domestic economy. In the near term, the BoC's resilience to the global easing trend and Canada's relatively high interest rate should provide support for the currency. Longer term, expect the BoC to adopt an increasingly dovish stance and the CAD to finish 2020 weaker.

CNY

Over the past two weeks, the yuan has been moving back and forth over the 7 yuan to 1 USD level. There are initial signs that industrial data in China is starting to stabilize, albeit at a low level. Additionally, the Phase 1 deal is expected to be signed early next year and should provide another shot in the arm for the Chinese economy. Given this, it is important to note that the key trade issues between the US and China remain unresolved. For now, expect the PBoC to aim for continued currency stability.

AUD

Easing of trade tensions and continued risk-positive headlines have helped the AUD move to its highest levels since the middle of 2019. Given this, the domestic economy remains challenged with misses on the RBA's inflation and employment targets. Not much likely happens until after the holidays, but the expectation remains for the AUD to weaken and the RBA to ease again next year.

MAJOR CENTRAL BANK ACTIVITY THIS WEEK

There are no major central bank meetings this week. 

KEY MARKET MOVING ECONOMIC RELEASES

United States and Canada

12/30 Chicago PMI Expectations for a gain from 46.3 to 48.0
1/3 ISM Manufacturing Expectations for a gain from 48.1 to 49.0
1/2 Canada PMI Expectations for a slight improvement from 51.4 to 51.6

Europe/Eurozone 

1/2 EZ Manufact. PMI Expectations for an unchanged print of 43.4
1/2 German Manuf. PMI Expectations for a gain from 49.4 to 49.9
1/3 German Jobs Report Expectations for the UR to remain at 5.0%
1/2 U.K. Manufact. PMI Expectations for a gain from 47.4 to 47.6

Asia/Japan, and New Zealand 

12/30 Chinese Manuf. PMI Expectations for a small decline from 50.2 to 50.1
1/1 Chinese Caixin PMI Expectations for a small decline from 51.8 to 51.6


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