Underlying nerves in Europe

We are once again starting the European session with the single currency trading very tight to the 1.30 level.   This comes despite the release of US jobs numbers on Friday, which were not too far from expectations, with the initial weakness of the dollar soon regained into the close of play.   The new eurozone bailout fund (the European Stability Mechanism) comes into force today.

But this is secondary to the standoff that’s currently taking place between Spain and the European authorities, with markets likely to start getting a little more nervous regarding the fact that Spain does not appear to be moving towards a request for assistance.   Today’s trading session is likely to be relatively subdued, given holidays in both Japan and the US.   Next key support for EUR/USD comes in at 1.2935.

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Aussie on the ropes.   The main move overnight has been the break below the 1.0268/77 area on the Aussie, which represented the lows seen early Sep and also late July. This puts the currency at a 3 month low vs. the USD and technically leaves little between current levels and parity.  The jobs numbers this week (Thursday) will be closely watched.   These have held up remarkably well, especially compared to the pressures being seen elsewhere globally, so any signs of a stall (rate currently at 5.1%) will increase the pressure for more rate cuts before the year is out.

China returns.  After last week’s holiday, China returns this week to see the latest services PMI data rising modestly.   The HSBC measure for September was up to 54.3, from 52.0 in the previous month. In the wider picture though, the main concern continues to be the slowdown currently being seen in the Chinese economy, which contrasts to the picture during the early part of the financial crisis when China was a significant counterweight to the weakness being seen elsewhere.   China will remain a focus in the final quarter of the year and further easing measures from the central bank are likely.

Modest jobs relief in the US.   On the surface, the headline number in the US jobs report was very close to expectations at 114k (expected was a 115k increase), but as always there are a lot of other factors to take on board. There were revisions which showed the job gains of the previous months were higher than calculated previously. The unemployment rate (based on a survey of households) was lower than expected at 7.8% – the lowest rate since early 2009. This was thanks to a strong gain in household employment of 873k. Offsetting these more positive winds was the second consecutive monthly decline in manufacturing employment, which is likely to be seized upon by the Republicans as the presidential election draws ever nearer.   The standout on the FX reaction was the yen, weaker by some 0.4% in the wake of the data and nudging towards the 79.00 level.

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