The Australian dollar recorded considerable losses last week. The upcoming week is busy, with the RBA rate decision, GDP and retail sales. Here is an outlook for the highlights of this week and an updated technical analysis for AUD/USD.
Australian numbers were mixed last week. Construction Work Done fell 3.1% in Q4, marking a second successive decline. This points to significant weakness in the construction sector. There was better news from Private Capital Expenditure, which rebounded with a gain of 2.0%, after two straight declines.
In the U.S., Advance GDP, which was released a month late due to the government slowdown, showed a gain of 2.6% in Q4. Although this was weaker than the 3.4% gain in Q3, it was well above the estimate of 2.2%. The better than expected reading can be credited to strong consumer spending and business investment. The U.S. economy continues to perform well, with a strong expansion of 3.1% in 2018. Even with the strong GDP release, however, it’s unlikely that the Federal Reserve will veer from its dovish stance.
AUD/USD daily graph with support and resistance lines on it. Click to enlarge:
- MI Inflation Gauge: Monday, 00:00. This indicator provides a monthly gauge of inflation. In January, inflation declined 0.1%, its first decline in 11 months.
- Building Approvals: Monday, 00:30. The indicator tends to show sharp swings, making accurate forecasts difficult. After posting two sharp declines, the markets are expecting a gain of 1.5% in January.
- Company Operating Profits: Monday, 00:30. Business profits fell to 1.9% in Q3, missing the estimate of 2.9%. The markets are expecting a rebound in Q4, with a forecast of 3.1%.
- AIG Services Index: Thursday, 21:30. The index fell sharply in January, with a score of 44.3 points. This marked the first contraction since February 2017.
- Current Account: Tuesday, 00:30. The current account deficit narrowed in Q3 to A$10.7 billion, but still missed expectations. Will the deficit drop again in Q4?
- RBA Rate Decision: Tuesday, 3:30. It’s been a while since the RBA has made any rate moves. The benchmark rate has been pegged at 1.50% since August 2016, and no change is expected at the March meeting. Investors will be closely following the rate statement, looking for hints as to future monetary policy.
- GDP: Wednesday, 00:30. The economy expanded at a disappointing 0.3% clip in Q3, shy of the estimate of 0.6%. Will we see any improvement in Q4?
- AIG Construction Index: Wednesday, 21:30. The construction index has been in contraction mode in Q4, and this continued in January. This points to persistent weakness in the construction industry. Another reading below 50, which indicates contraction, is likely in February.
- Retail Sales: Thursday, 21:30. Retail sales is the primary gauge of consumer spending. The indicator ended 2018 on a sour note, with a decline of 0.4% in December. This marked the first decline since December 2017. Will we say a rebound in the January release?
- Trade Balance: Thursday, 21:30. Despite the slowdown gripping China, Australia continues to post trade surpluses. In December, the surplus jumped to A$3.68 billion, above expectations.
*All times are GMT
AUD/USD Technical Analysis
AUD/USD started the week with gains but strong gains but then reversed directions. On Friday, the pair broke below support at 0.7085 (mentioned last week).
Technical lines from top to bottom:
0.7480 marked the high point of the pair in mid-July and defends the round 0.75 level.
Next is the round number of 0.74, the high point reached at the wake of December. This is followed by 0.7340, which the pair breached in late November.
0.7315 was a swing high seen in late September. Further down, 0.7240 separated ranges in September and in October. 0.7190 marked a low point in the first week of December.
Lower, 0.7165 was a swing low after a recovery in mid-November. 0.7085 was a low point in September and protected the symbolic round number of 0.70.
Close by, 0.6970 played a role back in January 2017.
Below, 0.6825 supported the pair in late 2016 and early 2017.
0.6744 was a low point in January.
I am bullish on AUD/USD
Investors remain optimistic that the negotiations between the U.S. and China will continue to make progress and lead to a deal. President Trump waived off a March 1 deadline, when further U.S. tariffs were scheduled to take effect. If the sides to reach a deal, this would be a shot in the arm for the Chinese economy. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner, so any improvement in U.S-China trade relations is bullish for the Australian dollar.
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