3 Reasons Why USD/JPY Popped Today

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3 Reasons Why USD/JPY Popped Today

Daily FX Market Roundup 09.11.17

By Kathy Lien, Managing Director of FX Strategy for BK Asset Management

Dollar bulls came charging back today and they took the greenback higher against all of the major currencies. The biggest gainer was USD/JPY, which experienced its largest one-day rise in 4 months. There are at least 3 reasons to explain the comeback in the dollar. First and foremost, investors were relieved that Hurricane Irma did not cause as much damage to Florida as Harvey did to Texas. Up until the very last moment when Irma barreled towards Florida as a Category 5 hurricane, everyone was bracing for the worst and while some Caribbean nations were devastated, Floridians were mostly spared extensive damage. North Korea also refrained from launching another missile over the weekend and there were early reports that they may be willing to talk with the U.S. So an Irma relief rally is the primary reason why the U.S. dollar and U.S. stocks are trading sharply higher today. Ten year Treasury yields also jumped 8bp and this important because USD/JPY takes its cue from U.S. yields. Lastly, having fallen from 114.50 to 107.30 in 3 months, USD/JPY is due for a short squeeze and a significant reversal is expected given the aggressiveness of the recent decline.

Everyone is now wondering if USD/JPY will continue to rise or back off at the 20-day SMA.
Technically, today’s rally stopped short of the 20 period simple moving average which would be a natural place of resistance. Fundamentally, North Korea’s troubles are not behind us because towards the end of the day, the country’s foreign ministry said the U.S. will pay “due price” if new UNSC sanctions are approved. The U.N. Security Council is slated to vote on North Korea this evening. But technically whenever we see such a strong move in USD/JPY, continuation is more likely than reversals. There are no major U.S. economic reports scheduled for release until Wednesday so unless the U.N. imposes new sanctions on North Korea and they retaliate either verbally or physically this evening, we would not be surprised if USD/JPY hit 110. Eventually sellers will sweep in as the fundamentals weighing on the dollar have not changed. Technically, 110 is the next major resistance level for USD/JPY but the pair could extend as high as the 50-day SMA near 110.70.

The rally in the U.S. dollar sent EUR/USD tumbling below 1.20.
On Friday we said the euro is headed higher because of the central bank’s plans to reduce QE purchases, their upgraded GDP forecasts and their limited concerns and while we continue to hold onto these views, investors may have the opportunity to buy below 1.19. At this stage it pays to wait for EUR/USD to stabilize before jumping in because today’s reversal could have continuation. No Eurozone economic reports were released today but ECB member Coeure expressed concerns about the volatility in the euro and said FX shocks could have an undesirable affect on inflation and financial conditions. With no major Eurozone economic data scheduled for release this week, it looks like euro will take its cue from the market’s appetite for U.S. dollars.

Sterling also fell victim to U.S. dollar strength but it managed to rise strongly against the euro ahead of this week’s Bank of England monetary policy announcement.
The currency’s resilience suggests that investors are positioning for hawkishness, which we find a bit surprising considering the central bank’s dovish views last month. However a number of U.K. economic reports are due for release this week and if they are strong, we could see more optimism from the BoE starting with tomorrow’s CPI report. The central bank recently downgraded their outlook for inflation but a smaller decline in shop prices and faster price growth in the manufacturing and service sectors in August point to a recovery. As such, we like buying GBP versus EUR, JPY and AUD for some near term gains.

The Canadian dollar was the only currency that managed to withstand the rise in the greenback.
The loonie traded higher despite early losses as oil prices rose 1.2%. Housing starts also increased which was a surprise as economists had been looking for a decline. Refineries in the U.S. are also restarting, which could be contributing to the moves in oil. Ultimately, the outlook for the Canadian dollar remains bright with the market looking for another rate hike this year. The Australian and New Zealand dollars on the other hand lost ground to the U.S. dollar. No data was released from Australia but gold and copper prices declined. Credit card spending in New Zealand was mixed with retail spending falling but total spending rising. On a technical basis, both currencies appear poised for further losses.

Kathy Lien
Managing Director

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