Trump Bends on Trade, Dollar Hits 3 Week Lows

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Trump Bends on Trade, Dollar Hits 3 Week Lows

Daily FX Market Roundup 08.27.18

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

The biggest story in the markets today was President Trump’s trade deal with Mexico. The S&P 500 hit a record high on the news and the rally lifted all of the major currencies. Investors are hoping that Mexico’s deal represents a more conciliatory approach by Trump that could pave the way for similar agreements with other countries. Rising global trade tensions has been one of the greatest sources of uncertainty for the financial markets this year and it sparked a risk off tone that drove the Dollar Index to a 15 year high. Now that Mexico secured a bilateral trade deal, investors are unwinding their long dollar trades in the hopes that more countries will follow. The Dollar Index dropped to 3 week lows today and further losses are likely. With no major U.S. economic reports scheduled for release this week, headlines like these will be the primary driver of market flows. Tomorrow’s trade balance and consumer confidence reports should have limited impact on the greenback.

Canada didn’t miss a beat. As soon as President Trump said he was ready to start negotiations with Canada, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland immediately cut her trip to Europe short and booked a flight for Washington on Tuesday. While Canada said they would only accept a deal that was good for the country, they are eager to reach an agreement after President Trump said he would end NAFTA. If Canada manages to secure a preliminary trade agreement this week, all of the major currencies will extend higher and the U.S. dollar will retreat further. Investors will immediately turn their hopes to China as Trump said today that he hopes that they can eventually work out a deal. But if U.S. and Canada can’t agree or there’s no meaningful progress this week and President reverts back to threatening Canada with auto tariffs not only would the Canadian dollar fall quickly and aggressively but all of the major currencies could give up their gains as investors return to the greenback. Technically, USD/CAD appears to be headed for 1.29. The Mexican Peso has more room to rise with a move below 18.50 likely.

The best performing currency today was the euro. Not only did it benefit from the overall improvement in risk appetite but it was also supported by stronger business confidence. The German IFO index rose for the first time in 9 months. Expectations for exports were particularly strong which is a sign that concerns about trade tensions are easing. This means that more than short covering could fuel the rally in EUR/USD going forward. Italian bond yields also stabilized and for all of these reasons we see EUR/USD extending its gains to 1.1750. The 7 percent decline in EUR/USD is also incredibly stimulative for the economy so data going forward could be steady.

For the first time in more than a month, GBP/USD ended the day above its 20-day simple moving average which tells us that sterling could experience a stronger recovery. Brexit talks are happening continuously so at any point, we could get some positive headlines. As we are in the last week of summer, there are no major UK economic reports scheduled for release and this means GBP/USD will take its cue from the greenback. On a technical basis, the pair appears poised for a rally to 1.3050.

Kathy Lien
Managing Director

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