Mitul Kotecha is the author of the forthcoming Chronology of a Crisis (Searching Finance September 2012)
Risk assets have given back some of their Draghi inspired gains but expectations of European Central Bank action on Thursday continues to provide a solid underpinning for markets. Although European equities closed higher US equities slipped while the VIX ‘fear gauge’ rose. Ahead of the ECB policy decision attention will be on whether German resistance to a more aggressive ECB stance eases. Given that markets have priced in a positive outcome the risks are asymmetric in the days ahead, with a bigger sell off in risk assets should policy makers disappoint.
One indicator worth highlighting is the Baltic Dry Index which has dropped by over 20% from its high on 9 July and continues to head south, indicating rising global growth risks. Economic data releases including the Eurozone ‘flash’ July Eurozone inflation data, and US July consumer confidence will offer some direction for markets but we suspect that a tone of consolidation will continue ahead of the ECB and Fed meetings and the July US jobs report at the end of the week.
Japan continues to jawbone about the strength of the JPY, with Finance Minister Azumi delivering a further threat of FX intervention. Azumi notes that the advance of the JPY has been one sided, does not reflect fundamentals and that no measures will be ruled out when it comes too FX action when needed. He also hints that any intervention may be supported by other countries. It is doubtful that Azumi is setting the scene for actual intervention although a sustained drop below 78.00 will sharply raise the odds of Japanese official JPY selling.
EUR/USD looks supported above 1.2118 but a drift lower is likely ahead of the ECB meeting. Reports in Der Spiegel that Draghi’s pledge of action has created discord within the ECB while Germany continues to resist action to restart the ECB’s securities market purchase programme. The risk is that Draghi has set the ECB and risk assets up for a fall if agreement cannot be reached ahead of the ECB policy meeting.
Asian currencies look supported going in the near term and its worth noting that equity portfolio flows to the region have pocked up over recent days led by South Korea. The USD will be restrained ahead of the Fed meeting allowing Asian currencies to grind higher. We favour KRW and IDR although gains are likely to be limited ahead of the key central bank policy decisions this week. On that note, a likely unchanged decision from the RBI in India today, may act as further disappointment for the INR.