AUD/USD Forecast May 4-8 – Investors Eye RBA Decision, Australian Retail Sales

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AUD/USD remained steady for a third successive week. The upcoming week has eight events, including retail sales and the RBA rate decisionHere is an outlook at the highlights and an updated technical analysis for AUD/USD.

Australian inflation releases for the first quarter were mixed. The headline read slowed to 0.3%, down from 0.7% a month earlier. However, the core figure improved to 0.5%, up from 0.4%. This marked the highest reading since Q2 of 2018. Manufacturing took a huge hit in March, as the AIG Manufacturing Index plunged to 35.8, down from 53.7 a month earlier. A reading below 50 points to contraction.

In the U.S., the initial release for GDP in Q1 reflected the economic havoc caused by Covid-19. The decline of 4.8% was worse than expected, as the forecast stood at 4.0 percent. Unemployment claims fell for a fourth straight week, dropping to 3.8 million. Still, this was higher than the forecast of 3.5 million.
The Federal Reserve’s policy statement reiterated that the Fed would use its “full range of tools” to stabilize the battered economy, but also warned about “considerable risks” to the economy over the next year or more. At the meeting, the Fed maintained the benchmark rate, which is close to zero.
On Thursday, the Fed announced that it was expanding the Main Street Lending Program, which helps small and medium-sized businesses in need of credit during the current financial crisis. On the manufacturing front, the ISM Manufacturing PMI slowed for a third straight month in April, falling to 41.5 points. This was down significantly from 49.1 a month earlier, but beat the estimate of 36.7 points.
AUD/USD daily graph with support and resistance lines on it. Click to enlarge:
  1. MI Inflation Gauge: Monday, 1:00. The Melbourne Institute indicator pointed to an improvement in inflation in March, with a small gain of 0.2%. In the previous month, inflation declined by 0.2%. Will we see an improvement in the April data?
  2. Building Approvals: Monday, 1:30. This construction indicator jumped 19.9% in February, crushing the estimate of 3.1 percent. In January, the indicator plunged by 15.3%. Another sharp drop is expected in February, with a forecast of -15.0%.
  3. AIG Construction Index: Monday, 22.:30. The index continues to point to contraction, with readings well below the 50-level. In March, the index slowed to 37.9, down from 42.7 in the previous reading. We now await the April data.
  4. RBA Rate Decision: Tuesday, 5:30. At the April meeting, the RBA maintained the cash rate at 0.25 percent. No change is expected at the upcoming meeting, but it will be interesting to see the stance of the bank in the rate statement, given the sharp economic deterioration due to Corvid-19.
  5. Retail Sales: Wednesday, 1:30. Retail sales jumped 8.2% in February, as consumers engaged in a wave of ‘panic buying’ due to the lockdown which has severely restricted movement of residents. Another gain of 8.2% is projected for March.
  6. AIG Services Index: Wednesday, 22:30. The index has slowed for five straight sessions and slipped to 38.7 in March, pointing to a significant contraction in the services sector. Will the downturn continue in April?
  7. Trade Balance: Thursday, 1:30. Australia continues to record trade surpluses. The February surplus narrowed to A$4.36 billion, down from A$5.21 billion in January. This marked the smallest surplus since December 2018. A rebound is expected in March, with an estimate of A$6.40 billion.
  8. RBA Monetary Policy Statement: Friday, 1:30. The quarterly report by the central bank has, at times, provided hints for future monetary policy. It provides a broader view of the economy than the short rate statement. Any hints about changes in interest rates will be scrutinized by markets.

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AUD/USD Technical Analysis

Technical lines from top to bottom:

0.6627 has held in resistance since early March. 0.6560 is next.

0.6456 remains relevant and is the next resistance line.

0.6380 (mentioned last week) is an immediate support level. It could see further action early in the week.

0.6240 is next.

0.6150 has provided support since early April.

The round number of 0.6000, which has psychological significance, is the final support level for now.

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I remain bearish on AUD/USD

The Australian economy is heading into its deepest downturn since the Great Depression and wage growth and inflation will likely remain low in the long term. The Aussie has little to offer investors, who are risk-shy due to the crash of the global economy.

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Kenny Fisher - Senior Writer A native of Toronto, Canada, Kenneth worked for seven years in the marketing and trading departments at Bendix, a foreign exchange company in Toronto. Kenneth is also a lawyer, and has extensive experience as an editor and writer.

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