Dollar – 2 Reasons why Friday is the Big Day
Daily FX Market Roundup August 6, 2020
This Friday is a big day for currencies, equities and Treasuries. Its Congress’ self-imposed deadline for a stimulus package and the scheduled release of non-farm payrolls. Based on the decline in the dollar, investors are worried that job growth will slow and the deadline will pass with no agreement. According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, there’s light at the end of the tunnel but Democrats and Republicans still can’t agree on topline numbers so there’s probably an 85% chance that Friday will pass with no deal. According to White House Chief of Staff Mr. Meadows, if nothing happens by tomorrow, his optimism will “fall off the cliff exponentially.”
To complicate the scenario, President Trump, frustrated with lack of progress bby Congress, said he expects to sign executive orders Friday or Saturday to extend enhanced unemployment benefits, impose a payroll tax holiday, provide eviction protection and student loan repayment relief. Its unclear if the Trump really has the power to make these changes because Congress passes tax laws not the President. However, it may be within his means to defer taxes and extend deadlines but not suspend them so employers may continue to collect taxes. He could also re-appropriate unused funds allocated to the CARES Act to extend unemployment benefits and as Pelosi said, Trump may have to power to extend eviction moratorium on his own. Still, all of these questions worry investors and give them reasons to sell dollars.
Non-farm payrolls is also a risk which is why the dollar traded lower against most of the major currencies today. Economists are looking for non-farm payrolls to rise by 1.48 million in July, which is a fraction of the increase they saw in June but the worry is that companies added even fewer workers to payrolls last month. Not only did some of the most populous US states tightened restrictions last month as virus cases hit record highs, but other economic measures reinforce the fear that job growth slowed.
The employment component of services ISM contracted at a faster pace, Challenger reported a 576% increase in layoffs, ADP reported that US companies added only 167K and consumer confidence fell across the board. Jobless claims were better but as we’ve long learned, fewer jobless claims does not translate into more hiring. If these indicators are right and job growth falls short of expectations, the dollar could tank, especially if its accompanied by a weaker unemployment rate or average hourly earnings. Additionally, depending upon what happens with the stimulus bill and Trump’s executive orders, Friday could be a very ugly day for the dollar.
Arguments in favor of weaker payrolls
1. Employment Component of services ISM drops to 42.1 from 43.1
2. Challenger Reports 576.1% increase in layoffs, up from 305.5%
3. ADP reports 167K vs. 4.3 million
4. Consumer Confidence index drops to 92.6 from 98.3
5. University of Michigan reports lower confidence as well
Arguments in favor of stronger payrolls
1. 4 week moving average jobless Claims at 1.337M vs. 1.435M previous
2. Continuing Claims at 16.1 million vs. 17.7 million
3. Employment Component of manufacturing ISM contracts as slower pace 44.3 vs 42.1
With that said, there are also a number of scenarios where the dollar could rise – for example if payrolls beats the low forecast or average hourly earnings improves, Congress reaches a deal or the market seems pleased with Trump’s executive orders. Aside from NFPs, labor market numbers will also be released from Canada and like the US, slower job growth is expected. Investors should keep an eye on Asian currencies with the release of PMI services from Australia, the RBA’s monetary policy statement and Chinese trade numbers.