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Euro Strength may be the Achilles heel for exports

The Euro sees its longest streak in 15 years on the back of Christine Lagarde, announcing that the ECB will provide an extra $1T in stimulus to combat the effects of the Coronavirus. The Euro against the USD has spiked to 1.127 to just under 1.135 on the back of extra stimulus. Pointing to inflation and price stability as concerns, Christine Lagarde stated a “unanimous view that action had to be taken.” However, with over six years of Quantitative easing and negative rates, the Euro’s weakness has benefited its exporters. This may change as the ECB puts its foot down in trying to rescue Europe.

History of the Euro post Financial Crisis

The European Union was hit hard during the Financial Crisis, with the Annual GDP growth rate dropping to as low as -6%. Europe did experience some GDP growth in the early 2010s, however, quickly reverted back due to the strong Euro dollar. Mario Draghi, ECB’s president at the time, implemented a drastic Quantitative easing program alongside negative interest rates. This gave the European union the boost it needed, with GDP Growth staying positive alongside the Balance of Trade, also staying positive in the following six years.

Balance of Trade of the Euro Zone over the past 20 years. You can see exports pick up around 2014
Euro Zone's GDP over the past 10 years

However, there has been a different tone from Lagarde, even before the Coronavirus pandemic.

With negative interest rates, investors in the European Union struggled to find yield while the American financial markets were experiencing capital appreciation alongside positive yield. Draghi consistently held that “for rates to be higher in the future, they need to be negative now.” However, with a change of leadership in the ECB at the turn of the decade, Lagarde is seen to take a tepid tone when it comes to negative rates. This was explicitly exemplified during the peak of the Coronavirus. When central banks all around the world were slashing their rates, Lagarde stood firm and kept rates as is. Lagarde is looking at the long-term future of the European Union and is possibly using the current pandemic to spur a change. However, with Lagarde’s new focus on getting out of this real negative rate environment, this may bode detrimental to exporters in Europe. A stronger Euro means it will cost more for buyers of European exports to purchase the Euro, possibly turning around their positive balance of trade.  

ECB Interest rate

What is the future of the Euro?

The Euro Dollar is currently at a key resistance around the 1.15 level, which has not been consistently able to break since quantitative easing and negative rates were implemented in 2014. We need to see if bulls will break this resistance, solidifying markets consensus for a strengthening in the Euro. If it sees a rebound at around this level, we may see a deep contraction to the downside. 

This week ahead: US and Eurozone GDP

On January 11th, China announced its first death related to the Coronavirus. 120 Days later, the pandemic has wreaked havoc in the lives of all. This week ahead marks many important indicators that, in regular times, would be an indicator of the prosperity of the global economy. We now look to the same indicators and quantify the damage Coronavirus has done to our lives and the global economy. Note: Dates are in NZST. 

Coronavirus Cases across the world - ABC News

China’s Inflation rate – Tuesday, May 12th

The People’s Bank of China has been wary of cutting their lending rates in favor of direct approaches, such as bond issues and direct lending – a stark contrast to how many central banks tackled the issue Coronavirus. However, due to implementing one of the strictest lockdown measures at the epicenter of the virus, consumer demand has been shattered. The PBOC in a statement stated that “ there was no foundation for persistent inflation or deflation in the country” Analysts predict a 3.7% inflation rate, down from 4.3%.

Inflation rates US – Wednesday, May 13th

In contrast, the US government has favored bolstering financial stability of households – providing them with stimulus checks to keep the economy afloat. This is on the back of the Federal Reserve announcing an unlimited quantitative easing program. These measures are textbook ways in which the rate of inflation increases in the long run. However, the consensus has been that it is more important to keep the economy afloat and worry about inflation later. Analysts forecast a 1.7% inflation rate, down from a previous 2.1%.

Interest Rate Decision RBNZ – Wednesday, May 13th

With one of the lowest coronavirus fatalities in the world, New Zealand has been praised for its swift and immediate response to the threat of the Coronavirus. However, this has not shielded them from the economic shortfalls a retraction of demand has caused. With the RBNZ expecting to double their quantitative easing measures, it remains to be seen whether their aim of keeping inflation between 1% and 3% is feasible. Analysts predict the RBNZ to keep interest rates at 0.25%.

UK GDP – Wednesday, May 13th

With having the worst fatality rate concerning the Coronavirus of around 16%, analysts forecast the UK to revise their GDP rate down from 0.1% to -2.9%. This is on the back of their Prime Minister, Boris Johnson contracting the Novel Coronavirus. The UK is set to slowly come out of their 7-week lockdown as their infection rates slowly decline.

Eurozone GDP – Friday, May 11th

With the Eurozone thriving over the free travel between Europe’s borders, lockdowns across the continent have severed this fundamental backbone of the European nations. Alongside devastating Coronavirus figures from the UK and Italy, analysts are forecasting a 3.3% drop in GDP year over year, in contrast to last year’s 1% growth.

US Retail sales – Saturday, May 16th

With lockdown measures across the United States and all across the world, in person, retail sales have suffered gravely. Retail sales fell 8.4% in March, with clothing and accessories suffering the worst plunging 50.5% in March. This is on the back of JCPenney and Neiman Marcus filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Analysts forecast a further 12% drop in retail sales.