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GBP/USD Breaks 1.38

The Pound against the U.S. Dollar broke 1.38, a critical psychological support/resistance level that gives bulls confidence to attack the 1.40 level.

GBP/USD Trading Comfortably Above 1.38

GBP/USD Looking For Positive Vaccine Results

The recent tailwind in the Pound has mainly come from the number of initial doses the U.K. has distributed amongst its citizens. More than 10 million people in the U.K. have received at least one dose of the Coronavirus vaccine, prioritizing the elderly and frontline workers.

However, initial optimism will not last long. Further pushes higher in the pair will long-lasting positive effects from the vaccinations and the lockdowns, with a Reuters poll finding that many analysts believe it'll take more than two years for Britain's economy to recover to its pre-Coronavirus levels.

James Smith at ING stated that "While we expect strict lockdowns to trigger a 3% fall in U.K. GDP in the first quarter, the more optimistic outlook for vaccinations means a sustained recovery could start in the spring". Furthermore, Mimi Rushton, co-head of global F.X. sales at Barclays, stated that "The reative outperformance of the U.K. in rolling out the vaccination program has definitely helped buoy expectations for an accelerated recovery."

Analysts will be looking at GDP figures coming out later this Friday, with analysts predicting a 0.5% in GDP Growth.

GBP/USD Strengthened By Broad U.S Dollar Weakness

However, the strength of the pair also comes from the recent weakness of the U.S. Dollar. As risk-on takes over in many asset markets, the continuation of the Federal Reserves' $120 Billion scheme and inflation concerns continue, long term tailwinds continue to pressure the U.S. Dollar. However, many analysts are reconsidering their predictions of a weaker dollar on the possibility of a better than expected U.S. recovery and the Fed backpedaling on their extraordinary measures.

George Saravelos, head of currency research at Deutsche Bank in London, stated that "Having been vocal dollar bears last year we argue it is time for a consolidation in the dollar lower trend and would take profit on [negative dollar bets against the euro]."

GBP/USD ripe for 1.45

1.45 is a very specific target for GBP/USD. However, it’s a significant target as that’s where the Pound was before the Brexit referendum. Now the Brexit deal is done, what will push it back to that level again?

GBP/USD - 1.45?

GBP/USD catalyst halfway there

It is clear that the damage that the Coronavirus has done continues to weigh on the pound. With lockdowns in the UK holding through Christmas and New Years, and continuing into the new year, optimism in the UK economy is at an all-time low.

UK Covid cases dropped by 25%

However, with daily Coronavirus cases dropping 25% from the last week, there is some signs of the UK pulling out of their current situation. With that said, hospital beds are still near the brink of overcapacity, alongside deaths continuing to record over a thousand deaths a day.

GBP/USD now focused on the UK economy

Another factor weighing on the cable is the forward-looking guidance the Bank of England gives on interest rates. Specifically, whether they will bring the rate into negative territory.

However, after Governor Bailey’s speech earlier this week, the market has pushed back on hopes that the current interest rate of 0.1% going into negative territory. However, analysts predict a rate cut from 0.1% as soon as next month. Goldman Sachs strategists predict that there could be a rate move to 0% soon, placing those odds at 4 to 1.

Valentin Marinov, head of Group-of-10 FX research and strategy at Credit Agricole SA stated that “The pound is regaining ground as rates markets are pairing back rate cut bets ahead of the February policy meeting..”. However, he also added that “any rebounds in the GBP represent a selling opportunity at current levels.”

The catalyst for the Pound is relatively clear: A dire Coronavirus situation getting much, much better alongside interest rates holding steady.

What are your predictions for the pound?

Week ahead – United States Election!

With over 93 Million US Citizens voting early, surpassing two-thirds of all 2016 and consisting of 43% of registered voters, the United States election is finally two days away this week ahead. Many regard this as one of the most important Presidential Elections in history, possibly changing society's fabric in the United States for the foreseeable future.

Although the Presidential Election will probably get most of the attention, this week continues to be eventful with a lot of data being released. Here is your week ahead.

Dates are in NZDT.

FiveThirtyEight predicts in 20 out of 22 scenarios Biden will win the Presidency

Monday, 2nd November – US ISM Manufacturing

A key point in Trump's campaign in 2016 was his promise to bring jobs back to America. However, an amended NAFTA agreement, alongside many more amendments to foreign policy, has lost many manufacturing jobs. For example, over one in four Michigan manufacturing jobs have been lost since the NAFTA agreement amendment.

The Coronavirus has just brought more pain to the sector, with an estimated 381,000 manufacturing workers in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were laid off or furloughed – with all, but one (Pennsylvania) states being in the midwestern part of the USA. These states were one of the key reasons why Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

As states slowly open up, the Coronavirus continues to run rampant, affecting workers employed in the manufacturing sector. Unlike the tech and finance sector, manufacturers can not work from home. With that said, the US's ISM is predicting to increase slightly from last month to 55.6 this week ahead, as suppose to 55.4 last month.

Tuesday, 3rd November and Wednesday, 4th November – RBA Interest Rate decision and Australian Retail Sales

Australia reached a positive milestone yesterday – zero community transmission. The country has a long road to recovery ahead of them, and the Reserve Bank of Australia acknowledges that. With dovish tones in the previous RBA minutes, analysts predict a 150 point basis cut, from 0.25% to 0.1% tomorrow. However, Insight Manager at Finder, Graham Cooke believes that further cuts will not make dramatic changes to the finances of ordinary Australians, stating that "a further 10-15 point basis cut us unlikely to have much of an impact on the economy –however, our experts seem to think that the RBA is in "every little bit helps" mode."

Furthermore, Retail Sales will also be released a day after the decision. Analysts predict a further 1.5% decline in Retail Sales as the Coronavirus continues to take a longer-term toll on employment.

Wednesday, 4th November – US Presidential Election.

The event everyone and I mean everyone, including your mother, will be watching.

There is nothing much to say about this other than to buckle in. Many polls state that Biden is likely to win. FiveThirtyEight predicts that in 20 out of 22 scenarios, Biden is stated to win. Other polls from firms such as RealClearPolitics see Biden leading over 9%.

Judging by the polls, the only way Trump can win is if he wins all of the swing states. The popular vote in NYC and California have Biden to win anyways, which means the popular vote will be absorbed within the Electoral college (tl:dr, the RealClearPolitics poll may be closer than is stated).

However, the polls showed Hillary winning in 2016. And we all know what happened then.

Friday, 5th November – Bank of England Interest Rate Decision

The UK struggling with lackluster leadership

The UK has finally imposed a stricter lockdown (however, not a full lockdown) on citizens for one month, with analysts predicting that the lockdown may be extended further to allow the UK to have their Christmas not under lockdown. The Bank of England is set to inject over 100 Million pounds buying back bonds to fight the second wave.

However, this may not be enough, with analysts at HSBC predicting that the BoE's bond-buying regimes are "running out of room," which may leave the central bank with no choice but to implement negative rates. Governor of the Bank of England, Andre Bailey, has not ruled negatives rates but has described evidence of their effectiveness as "pretty mixed" and that negative rates might be most effective when an economy is in a recovery phase for the economy to take full advantage of the negative rates. Analysts predict rates to stay at 0.1%.

Saturday, 5th November – US Non-Farm Payroll

A key indicator showing how well the US economy is recovering, Non-farm payrolls is predicted to print 700,000 new jobs, up from 661,000 the month before.

This week ahead is going to be a turbulent one. Strap yourself in, and brace for the ride.

Stay safe, Trade safe. Have a good week!

Week ahead - GDP and Inflation

Last week was a bloody week in the markets, with US equities selling off on fears that the market has been overstretched. The NASDAQ, Dow Jones, and the S&P 500 were down 4.52%, 3.66%, and 3.28%, respectively.

As we approach election season in the United States, traders should be looking out for changes in future policies which may whipsaw the market.

Investors and traders are heading into a turbulent start of the week, with Hong Kong/ China Tensions increasing as we get close to election season. This may incentivize countries like Australia and the United States to implement policy changes that many move the markets.

Leshgo! Here is your week ahead.

All dates are in NZDT.

Last week's equity selloff

Tuesday, 8th September – Japan GDP Growth Annualized

It has been a turbulent week for Japan, as total Coronavirus cases are starting to creep up amidst Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's resignation. Furthermore, Typhoon Haishen just landed, causing more disruption to an already chaotic year. Analysts predict a significant drop in GDP growth by 28.6% - Brutal, considering the Japanese economy has been in the slump in the past couple of years.

Tuesday 8th and 10th September – Euro Area GDP Growth Quarter over Quarter and ECB Interest Rate Decision.

With the European bloc having a relatively collective response regarding the pandemic, individual countries have started to release specific stimulus plans. For example, France revealed a 100 billion Euro stimulus plan, the biggest than any other country in Europe. The stimulus is just under 4% of its GDP. Analysts predict a 12.1% drop in their growth rate quarter over quarter, with the ECB expected to leave rates at 0%.

Thursday, 10th September – Bank of Canada Interest rate decision

Canada has been relatively prosperous in trying to contain the Coronavirus without implementing a strict lockdown. In Quebec, the Coronavirus's epicenter earlier this year has stated that they plan to have students return to school as soon as possible. Economists predict the central bank to keep interest rates at 0.25%, with 80% of Economists surveyed by Finder expecting no rate change until 2022. Oxford Economists Tony Stillo and Michael Davenport stated that the Bank of Canada has signaled that they will keep the interest rates at 0.25% "until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2% inflation target is sustainably achieved."

Friday, 11th September – UK GDP Year over Year

As the United Kingdom continues to grapple with the Coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that Brexit talks should continue with no delay. The United Kingdom has recorded over 347,000 Coronavirus cases, with the UK recording the highest number of daily Coronavirus cases today since May.

Saturday, 12th August – United States Inflation Rate Year over Year

Similar to Japan, the United States has a turbulent couple of weeks ahead. With main market indices diving, traders and investors should brace for market volatility in the times ahead alongside election season getting into full swing. With the Federal Reserve pledging a new tool combatting inflation, these data figures may be too early to see whether this tool is working. However, a higher than expected figure than the market forecast of 1.2% may see Gold push higher alongside the dollar go lower.

Trade safe this week ahead.

This week ahead: Jerome Powell Testimony, Inflation rates

Markets brace for the week ahead as the Coronavirus continues to disrupt the world order. As the death toll has topped 300,000 worldwide, markets have shown a tentative appetite towards risk-on assets. Oil is up 7.45% the past week, with the S&P 500 down 1.58%. Gold is up 2.3%.

Oil in blue, S&P 500 in red, Gold in orange. Figures below are in USD, dates are in NZST.

Japan's GDP Growth Annualized – Today, May 18th

As Japanese residence defying lockdown rules, analysts predict a 4.6% contraction in annualized GDP growth. The government issued a $1.1 trillion fiscal stimulus package in early April, which including lowered interest rates and asset purchases. This  stimulus package represents 21% of their GDP. in With an aging population and a slowing pre-coronavirus GDP growth rate, investors and traders will be looking for any positive sentiment in the report today to bolster the JPY as a safe-haven currency.

Fed's Jerome Powell to testify to congress - Tuesday, May 19th

A key event to watch for traders and investors, as sentiment from the FED chairman Jerome Powell this week may affect the dollar significantly. However­, he has been quite vocal in the strength in the American economy. "In the long run and even in the medium run, you wouldn't want to bet against the American economy. The American economy will recover". However, he also voiced his doubts concerns, stating that "for the economy to recover.. that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine." This is on the back of President Donald Trump stating that the Fed chair was his "Most Improved player." The Fed has implemented deep cuts to the Fed funding rate, and a unlimited quantitative easing scheme extending to bond ETFs.

United Kingdom's Employment change and Inflation rate; Tuesday, May 19th and Wednesday, May 20th

The United Kingdom has one of the highest Coronavrius fatality rates in the world, currently sitting at aorund 14.3%. The government has pledged a fiscal package totaling $520 Billion, $50 Billion of which going towards employment relief. Analysts predict a 65,000 decrease in the number of people employed. This comes a day before the United Kingdom releases its Core Inflation Rate. With people being locked in their own homes, analysts predict a drop in the rate of inflation this week to 0.8%, down from 1.5% a month before.

Canada's Inflation Rate - Thursday, May 21st

With one of the countries not implementing a strict lockdown, Canada has done relatively well. Alongside the government's quick actions and Canadian residence adhering to a self-imposed lockdown, currently their fatality rate stands at 7.5%. Similarly to the UK, analysts predict a slight drop in the rate of inflation to -.1%, down from 0.9% a month before.

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.

America’s Coronavirus response vs the rest: How are they stacking up?

30.3 Million – The number of jobless claims made in the United States since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. It’s an astounding number, primarily when charted on a graph that shows weekly jobless reports since 1967.

Source: St Louis. Fed

The question arises – is the jarring rise in filings for unemployment consistent around the world?

Figures from the St Louis. Fed, Federal Employment Agency of Germany, Government of UK, National Bureau of Statistics in China, and Upright Asset Management. Figures are from March 13th onwards. All $ figures following are in USD

United States
United States’ jobless claims represent 18.41% of their labour force. This is on the back a total of 1.03 million confirmed Coronavirus cases or just under 33% of the confirmed cases in the world. 

Relative to other countries, the US has had a muted and weak reaction towards the Coronavirus. Cases continue to pick up, with New York being the epicenter of the pandemic. The rhetoric out the Whitehouse has been of optimism for the future, as their deaths top 60,000. Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser, touted the administration’s response to the Coronavirus as a “great success story.”

The Senate approved an unprecedented $2 Trillion Stimulus package, giving Americans and additional $1,200 to assist households as lockdowns continue.

Germany
Germany’s jobless, “Kurzarbeit” (short-time work subsidy) claims currently represent only 1.08% of their labour force. However, Hubertus Heil, the country’s labor minister, stated that there would be “many more” workers taking from the Kurzarbeit wage subsidies. Over 1.4m people received the funds during the peak of the global financial crisis of 2009.

Germany’s response to the Coronavirus has been strong. The extensive testing capacity of over 900,000 a week for a population of 83 million, strong leadership, and a robust public healthcare system all combine to a marvelous attempt in combatting the virus. Out of the 162k infected with the Coronavirus, around 6,500 have died, giving a fatality rate of just under 4%. This is in comparison with the United States fatality rate of 5.8%.

The Germany Government approved an $810B Stimulus package primarily to help all businesses maintain liquidity and keep employment throughout Germany. Alongside the short time work subsidy, Germany’s attempt to bolster the strength of business contrasts with the United States’ method of directly giving cash infusions to households.

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom’s universal credit claims represent a 2.08% of the labour force. The scheme helps individuals are low on income or out of work.

The UK has been hit with criticism with their reaction to the Coronavirus, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson stating that he “shook hands with everybody” at a hospital including coronavirus patients. This was three weeks before he caught the Coronavirus. This casual attitude has skeptics wondering whether the government was doing enough to combat the virus and whether it is too little, too late with over 26.7k deaths representing a 15.8% mortality rate, the highest in the world.  

The UK Government approved a $424b Stimulus package to help with household mortgages, airlines, retailers, and the hospitality industry. 

Canada
Canada’s jobless claims reached 2.13 million, or 11% of their labour force.  

Canada has shut down borders to who is not a citizen, a permanent resident, or a US citizen; however, the country is not in lockdown. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, urged citizens to impose self-quarantine. This is on the back of 3,180 deaths, or just under a 6% fatality rate. As Canadian territories slowly loosen restrictions, it will be seen whether their relatively flexible reaction towards the Coronavirus will balance economic recovery and the safety of the population.

The government has pledged over $1.1T in support of Coronavirus related costs, half of which represents support to municipal governments for small businesses and households.

China
Officially, the number of unemployed citizens only represents 6.2% of the labour force (the labour force includes 290m migrant workers). However, an estimation by Liu Chenjie, chief economist at Upright Asset, stated that including migrant workers, the Coronavirus might have pushed 205 million workers into “frictional unemployment,” or 24.45% of the labour force.

Being ground zero for the Coronavirus, China implemented the first and strictest lockdown in Wuhan. With a population of 11 million, residents of Wuhan were the first to experience the suspension of public transport and roads, with stores that sell food and medicine remaining open. Fifty-nine days after the initial lockdown, Chinese authorities slowly lifted the lockdown but urged citizens to practice self-isolation when need be. China’s official numbers stand at 84,373 confirmed cases, with 4,643 deaths, representing a fatality rate of 5.5%. 

There has been plenty of criticism regarding China’s response to the Coronavirus. From not allowing foreign scientists access in the country and access to essential data, the silencing, and death of Dr. Li Wenliang, the doctor who first spoke out about the Coronavirus to the world alongside skepticism with their official coronavirus figures. But as the first country to be hit with the effects of the Coronavirus, they are also the first country to emerge from the height of it. Krish Sankar, a Senior Research Analyst at Cowen, states that Apple’s supply chains in China are 90% operational, giving a sense of movement and productivity in the country. 

China’s central bank, the Peoples Bank of China, has injected over $220B into the money markets to support liquidity and lending. However, the Chinese government has not issued any direct fiscal stimulus, unlike their western counterparts over concerns of inflation and increasing an already all-time high budget deficit.  

What’s next?
It will be a while till we get a solid look at the toll the Coronavirus has had on the world. However, reliable data on the economic and societal damage of the Coronavirus may come to light in the next couple of months, possibly giving us a better prediction of how the world will move forward with regards to this devastating pandemic. With nations slowly creeping out of lockdown with cautious optimism, we may soon experience a seismic shift in how we go on with our daily lives. However, as the past has told us, we will emerge out of this crisis victorious.

Anish Lal, an Senior Analyst at Blackbull markets gives a technical overview on the historic SP500 gains closing a tumultuous month on the back of the US's historical unemployment claims number. Watch the video here: