Forex Weekly Outlook Feb. 16-20

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The US dollar was on the back foot against most currencies in the past week. Japanese GDP, German Economic Sentiment, UK employment data, the FOMC Meeting Minutes and the FOMC meeting minutes stand out. These are the main events on FX calendar for this week. Here is an outlook on the market movers coming our way:

U.S. retail sales unexpectedly declined 0.8% in January, following a 0.9% drop in December. The low oil prices did not boost sales as previously predicted and economists missed also on consumer confidence. However, analysts still believe sales will pick up in light of the ongoing improvement in the labor market and low prices. In the euro-zone, the hopes about a resolution for Greece, despite struggles, was joined by strong German growth numbers. In the UK, the hawkish approach from Carney helped sterling. The Aussie was pressured by weak employment data and the loonie was not boring as it moved sharply with oil prices. Let’s start:

Updates:
  1. Japan GDP data: Sunday. 23:50. Gross domestic product contracted by an annualized 1.6% in the three months ended September, considerably lower than the 2.2% rise estimated by economists. On a quarterly basis, Japan’s GDP dropped 0.4%, amid lower business investment. Economies forecasted a 0.5% rise in the third quarter. Japan’s consumption tax increased to 8% in April but did not result in a major fiscal improvement. Policymakers consider another 10% rise to boost GDP growth. Economists expect GDP will rise 0.9% in the fourth quarter of 2014.
  2. Eurogroup meetings: Monday. The Eurogroup Finance Ministers will continue to search for a solution to the Greek debt crisis after failing to do so last week. The new Greek government is determined to change the rules of the game to relieve its staggering debt burden and loosen the tight austerity measures imposed by the previous Government. There is a better chance that this happens once Merkel passes the hurdle of state elections in Hamburg.
  3. UK inflation data: Tuesday, 9:30. The UK inflation rate declined sharply to 0.5% in December, from 1.0% in the previous month, reaching its lowest rate since May 2000. This decline was prompted by lower fuel prices. Analysts expected inflation to reach 0.7%. Bank of England governor Mark Carney still expects rate hikes in the next two years despite the sluggish inflation. Economists predict the ongoing inflation decline will continue while households are expected to benefit from these super low rates. UK CPI is expected to rise 0.3% this time.
  4. German ZEW Economic Sentiment: Tuesday, 10:00.  German analyst and investor climate edged up in January amid low oil prices. Sentiment rose to 48.4 in January from 34.9 in December, reaching the highest level since February last 2014. The strong release beat forecast for a 40.1 reading. Economists warned that if the Greek situation deteriorates it will influence the German economy. German analyst and investor climate is expected to jump to 56.2.
  5. Japan rate decision: Wednesday. At its January monetary policy meeting, the Bank of Japan decided to maintain its monetary policy and continue to raise the monetary base at an annual pace of JPY 80 trillion. The decision was in line with market expectations. The bank noted a slight improvement in exports and a rise in industrial output and forecast a stronger expansion from lower oil prices. Inflation expectations also increased but expected to slow temporarily due to the oil price decline.
  6. UK employment data: Wednesday, 9:30. The number of people unemployed fell by 29,700 in December following a decline of 26,900 in November indicating UK’s labor market remains strong. Furthermore, average earnings have increased, a positive development to household spending.  However, wage growth will be sustained only if production improves. The number of unemployed is predicted to decline by 25,200 in January. The unemployment rate for December is predicted to stand at 5.8% and wages at 1.7%.
  7. US Building Permits: Wednesday, 13:30. The number of US building permits declined 1.9% in December, reaching an annualized pace of 1.03 million units, while housing starts jumped 4.4% to 1.09 million units. Economists expected permits to reach 1.06 million. The main reason for the sluggish growth in the housing market is that wage growth is slow disqualifying many potential buyers from obtaining mortgages. The number of US building permits is estimated to reach1.08 million units.
  8. US PPI: Wednesday, 13:30. U.S. producer prices plunged 0.3% in December, the steepest decline in three years amid declining energy costs. The reading was in line with market forecast. Following this report the Fed reduced its inflation expectations, raising new doubts about future rate hikes. However policymakers regard the falling inflation is temporary. U.S. producer prices are expected to rise 0.4%.
  9. US FOMC Meeting Minutes: Wednesday, 19:00. In the last Fed decision back in late January, the Fed sounded optimism about the economy and about the “strong job market” to quote the statement. However, it continued urging patience regarding raising the rate and mentioned international developments. We will now learn how the members see the economy and how worried they are about events abroad.
  10. US Unemployment Claims: Thursday, 13:30. Initial claims for unemployment benefits edged up 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000 last week. However, the general trend still shows strength in the US labor market. Analysts expected a modest climb to 282,000 last week. The four-week moving average dropped 3,250 to 289,750. Economists expect jobless claims will remain subdued amid the massive job gain over the last three months. The number of jobless claims is expected to rise by 305,000.
  11. US Philly Fed Manufacturing Index: Thursday, 15:00. Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia-region slipped into lower gear in January, reaching 6.3 points, following 24.5 in December. This was the largest fall in 11 months. Analysts expected a much higher figure of 20.3. The majority of responders reported that lower energy prices were having overall net positive effects on manufacturing business and the six-month outlook continued to be positive. Manufacturing activity is expected to climb to 8.8 points.

*All times are GMT.

That’s it for the major events this week. Stay tuned for coverage on specific currencies

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About Author

Anat Dror – Senior Writer

I conceptualize, design and create multi-lingual websites. Apart from the technical work, my projects usually consist of writing content for these sites in English, French and Hebrew.

In the past, I have built, managed and marketed an e-learning center for language studies, including moderating a live community of students.

I’ve also worked as a community organizer

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