The unexpected rebound of the Chinese economy as seen in the latest batch of Chinese data reinforced the idea that a hidden China economic momentum will unlock the upside in pro-cyclical currencies, including the euro. The decline in natural gas prices pushes the idea of an energy crisis deep to the sidelines causing revisions of growth prospects of energy importers to the upside. Today the market’s focus is on the UK employment data, German ZEW index, Canadian CPI and the US Empire State manufacturing index.
China statistics for December and 4Q 2022 made somewhat displaced market fears that the coronavirus restrictions left a scar on the body of the economy that will greatly hamper its recovery. GDP expanded by 2.9% in the fourth quarter (forecast 1.8%) while industrial production grew by 1.3% (forecast 0.2%) in December. The market missed the mark greatly in the retail sales growth forecast – the decline was just 1.8%, compared to the forecast of -8.6%. December data confirms the suggestion that, despite the increase in cases, the mobility story positively dominates China’s consumer demand story.
However, the release of Chinese data did not trigger any subsequent buying of the yuan or Asian currencies. This response could be attributed to the lull before the Chinese New Year starting next week and risk aversion before the BOJ meeting tomorrow.
The dollar remains broadly stable, moving in the 102-102.50 range in DXY. Tomorrow during the Asian session, a downside breakout could occur if the BOJ changes its 10-year JGB yield target again.
Growing signs of a slowdown in US price pressures, weakening business indicators, an improved demand outlook in China, and reduced risks of an energy crisis have all combined to reduce the huge imbalance between the growth outlooks of the US economy and its opponents that was a major investment thesis in 2022. EURUSD is clearly looking for an opportunity to break to new local highs, buyers’ interest in the pair remains high. The target 1.10 for EURUSD remains relevant given that we saw a decent USD consolidation after the steep decline.
The UK employment data and the ZEW business sentiment report pleased European currency buyers as they showed surprises on the upside. The ZEW sentiment index diverged especially strongly from the forecasts: despite expectations of a negative print, it entered a positive area for the first time in many months:
The Bloomberg report that the ECB will follow the Fed’s example and slow down the pace of rate hikes to 25bp in March caused some volatility in EURUSD and stripped somewhat of the near-term bullish momentum. However, the impact of this news is likely to be short-lived and the pair will soon resume its upward movement, as the dominant idea in the market remains the alignment of yield outlook in the US and outside of America.
The Bank of Canada (BoC) looks set to face an increase or no increase dilemma at its policy meeting next week (January 25). Signs of a slowdown in economic activity were included in the latest statement from the Bank of Canada and were clear in yesterday’s Bank of Canada Business Outlook, where the index of future sales fell to its lowest level since the pandemic, and most of the firms surveyed said they expected a recession in Canada. However, employment figures in the December report turned out to be very strong, and high full-time hiring kept the unemployment rate at cyclical lows.