Likelihood of military action in Syria before mid-September is

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The Dollar Index moved higher overnight as the Greenback piled on more gains, despite other asset classes pulling back from yesterday’s extremes. Concerns that foreign governments may soon intervene in Syria, which fueled yesterday’s flight from risk, look to have moderated overnight. Political leaders steped back from the metaphorical edge in the last 24 hours, following comments from Britain & France that they favor of waiting to decide on potential military action until the results of the UN probe are in. The investigation on site in Syria is expected to continue until the end of August, and the findings presented sometime after. So the likelihood of action occurring before mid-September is limited. US President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also sought more neutral ground, saying that no decision had been made as of yet, and that the Unites States would not act without international collaboration.

As geo-political tensions eased markets too found calmer waters. Gold traded down overnight, though it still remains over USD 1,400.00/oz and continues to look a touch overbought given the near USD 150.00/oz 3-week rally that it has experienced. Both Brent & West Texas crude prices have given back too, contracting 0.67% and 0.79% in the last trading cycle.

Looking to stocks, Asian trading saw major indices up across the board, the Nikkei leading the way at +0.91%, followed closely by the Hang Seng which put on 0.84%. The key drivers of gains were exporter shares, which rose as Syria concerns faded and commodity prices retraced. European bourses are also stronger as the local session winds down, aided by a calmer global landscape and Vodafone.  Shares in the European telecom giant surged to 11-year highs following reports that it’s in talks to sell its 45% stake in the Verizon Wireless venture to Verizon Communications Inc.

In currencies the Greenback added to yesterday’s gains, making strong headway against the JPY, EUR, and CHF overnight. Month end flows and concerns that the Federal Reserve will cut back on its stimulus programs in the near future drove the Dollar buying. Action saw the Dollar Index break resistance at the 200-Day Moving Average and close in on monthly highs near 82.00.

On the data front it was pretty quiet overnight, however the American session had a couple pieces of top tier data released early this morning.  The Thursday special, otherwise known as US Weekly Jobless Claims, printed in line with expectations at 331k. Meanwhile Preliminary Quarterly GDP for the United States chimed in at an annualized +2.5%, this is slightly better than expectations, which according to a Reuters survey were +2.2%. The GDP number is encouraging as it reinforces the notion that the US economy has been able to weather the government sequester well and increases the likelihood that Bernanke will engage in tapering possibly as soon as September.

In the immediate aftermath of this morning’s data the Big Dollar has added to its overnight gains, picking up ground against most major currencies. The USD gains have helped put the Cable on track for its 7th consecutive session of losses as the British Pound remains a slave to rate chatter from the Bank of England. The GBPUSD slide has pushed the pair down to support at its 200-Day Moving Average and for 3 days markets have successfully defended it, a break of that level could see the pair take a major leg down.

The USDCAD continues to tread water near the highs established last week. It feels like investors have decided to let the pair sit out this week’s USD action and trade the Loonie against other currencies. For example the Loonie is set to extend its rally against the Euro to a 4th day and versus the GBP, the CAD has advanced over 150 pips this week. Friday however will see Canadian GDP numbers announced, which should have the capacity to move the stubborn USDCAD.

Further reading:

EUR/USD Crash: 3 Reasons

US GDP +2.5%, jobless claims +331K – dollar extends gains

Get the 5 most predictable currency pairs

About Author

David Starkey is a currency options dealer and market analyst for Cambridge Mercantile Group. A fascination with the everyday impact of globalization on society led David to pursue a degree in International Business from the University of Victoria. From there Forex was a natural fit. He has worked as a currency trader, risk manager, and hedging expert in both Canada as well as the United States for several non-bank brokers. Cambridge Mercantile Group.

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