How will Month / Quarter End Affect the Dollar?

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How will Month / Quarter End Affect the Dollar?

Daily FX Market Roundup 03.30.2021

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

The U.S. dollar traded sharply higher against all of the major currencies on Tuesday with the latest gains taking the greenback to fresh one year highs against the Japanese Yen and 4 month highs against the euro. Currencies are once again taking their cue from Treasury yields, which rose above 1.7% on a 10 year basis to its highest level since January.

With the momentum in stocks waning and investors hungry for any type of yield, rising U.S. rates is drawing everyone’s attention. There’s also the growth and liquidation story – the U.S. is racing ahead with vaccinations and the prospect of a strong second quarter to second half recovery is creating significant demand for the greenback. President Biden will outline his infrastructure spending plan tomorrow and Democrats are pushing for the inclusion of more stimulus. All of which feeds into the growth story. The liquidation in stocks caused by the Archegos blowup and the unwinding of risky bets is also creating demand for the currency. Unless non-farm payrolls disappoints in a big way which is not very likely, the greenback is poised for more gains. The February 2020 high of 112.22 is the main resistance level for USD/JPY and for EUR/USD everyone is eyeing the November 2020 1.16 low.

Month and quarter end flows pose only a short term risk for the greenback. With U.S. stocks hitting record highs in March and the Dollar Index rising to 4 month highs, asset managers will need to sell dollars to rebalance their portfolios. March 31st is also fiscal year end in Japan, which means we could see profit taking by Japanese investors. We saw big intraday moves in USD/JPY on March 31st, 2020 with investors selling after gains in the first quarter but typically most position adjustments the week and not the day of fiscal year end. These flows tend to be short-lived.

Euro and the Australian dollar were hit the hardest by the U.S. dollar’s rise. Although Eurozone sentiment indicators increased and prices in Germany grew at a faster pace year over year, it is difficult for euro to attract buyers with lockdowns and slow vaccine rollout. German labor market numbers are due for release tomorrow along with Eurozone CPI. Even though both figures are expected to be better, any lift for EUR/USD will be shallow.

The Australian dollar was hit by the government’s decision to end the JobKeeper program that provided wage subsidies for nearly a million workers. While many economists argue there’s better ways to provide stimulus, investors fear that it will be a big sting for the economy and slow growth significantly. The Australian dollar should weaken further especially if tonight’s Chinese PMIs surprise to the downside. Lower oil prices drove USD/CAD to its strongest level in nearly 3 weeks. GDP numbers are due for release tomorrow and with a pickup in retail sales and trade, the data should surprise to the upside.

Kathy Lien
Managing Director

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