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The greenback slides after Friday’s soft employment data

The fallout from the last Friday’s surprisingly soft US employment number continues to filter its way through financial markets this morning, with risk appetite getting a positive bid to start the new trading week as expectations for a rate hike from the Federal Reserve in 2015 are ratcheted lower.   Equity futures are firmly in positive territory ahead of the opening bell in North America, with high-yielding currencies outperforming as the greenback loses further wind from its sails.   For greenback bulls the September employment report was a considerable setback, and while the back-to-back softer than expected non-farm payrolls numbers weren’t the stated reason the Fed held off raising rates last month, it does support their cautious outlook towards the global economic landscape.   As market participants continue to digest the greater meaning of September’s employment report in the context of the Fed’s monetary policy framework, there are a few ways Friday’s numbers can be interpreted; the weakness emanating from the labour market is nothing more than a statistical outlier and the US labour market will regain the lost ground in the fourth quarter, or the US economy is failing to hit escape velocity and a faltering labour market will keep the Fed on hold for at least the balance of 2015.   The traditionally volatile nature of non-farm payrolls lends us to believe the former is likely the current scenario for the US labour market, as other indicators such as consumption point to the relative strength of the domestic economy.   In addition, the US labour market has been on a bastion of strength over the course of 2015, so by proxy it is likely strong enough to withstand a few months of below-trend employment growth.   That being said, a strong greenback and weak demand overseas continue to squeeze the export sector which has lead the Atlanta Fed’s GDP tracking estimate for Q3 to drop to 0.8% on an annualized basis, and will likely rule out any chance the Fed decides to move on interest rates at the October meeting.   We would view the recent consolidation in the DXY as some exhaustion from the dollar bulls, but the big question is now how far can they bend before the fissures become too wide to ignore.   Our base case scenario is there are technically further weak long dollar positions that can be shaken out of the market, but that this setback will provide a good opportunity for those corporations that are naturally short USD to reload their hedges.

European bourses are well situated in the green midway through their trading session, as positive investor sentiment has participants adding high-beta assets to their portfolio while rotating out of traditional safe-haven asset classes.   The euro is sustaining a strong bid tone against the big dollar this morning, despite the final composite PMI readings for the Eurozone coming in weaker than expected and missing the original flash readings.   While not sufficient by itself to influence market participants’ expectations of the ECB, recall that September’s flash CPI estimate fell back in to deflationary territory, while the ECB cut both its growth and inflation forecasts.   The trimming of the growth and inflation forecasts are seen by many as a precursor to the ECB changing the length of time for its asset purchase program or increasing the size.   Mario Draghi is speaking on Tuesday of this week, and market participants will be intent on digesting any clues the ECB chief has as to if the central bank will look to alter the size and scale of its monetary policy easing in order to try and bolster the inflation outlook.

As we get set for the North American open, a strong dose of risk appetite is still evident throughout financial markets, with commodities like copper and oil putting in solid performances to begin the week.   Greenback bulls are hoping the US ISM Service PMI reading for September that will be released later this morning can help the dollar claw back some of its recent losses, though expectations are for activity from purchasing managers in the service industry to fall from the 59.0 registered in August to 57.7 in September.   The loonie is building on its gains amounted before the weekend, with USDCAD blowing through some key support levels ahead of the opening bell.   The last time USDCAD sunk to these levels (aftermath of the September Fed meeting) the loonie was unable to sustain the captured gains, and while we think it is possible from a technical standpoint to see some additional short covering from the weaker loonie bears, there isn’t a strong fundamental case to suggest a longer-term directional change is in the works.

Further reading:

Dollar down but not out – focus on US ISM, RBA decision [Video]

Too early to bury the USD rally – Credit Agricole

Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is a Senior Corporate Foreign Exchange Trader with Cambridge Mercantile Group and has a diverse background in the foreign exchange industry, with previous experience in both credit and trading related functions. Scott holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Victoria, has completed all three levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, and is currently working towards the Derivative Market Specialist certification offered through the Canadian Securities Institute. Cambridge Mercantile Group.