FX Remains Calm Despite Troubling Data

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Market Drivers Mar. 8, 2016

CNY Trade much weaker than forecast
Carney testimony on Brexit turns testy
Nikkei -0.76% Dax -1.44%
Oil $37/bbl
Gold $1275/oz

Europe and Asia:
AUD NAB Business Conditions 8 vs. 5
CNY Trade 32.5B vs. 51.00B
EUR GDP 0.3% vs. 0.3%

North America:
CAD Housing Starts 8:15
CAD Building Permits 8:30

Despite very weak Chinese trade data and very testy testimony from BOE Governor Mark Carney on the issue of Brexit, currencies remained in relatively tight ranges driven more by risk aversion flows in equities rather than any fundamental or geopolitical news.

In China the Trade data numbers came in significantly worse than forecast at 35.59B versus 51B eyed as exports dropped a whopping -25% while imports declined by 13.8%. Markets shrugged off the data because the numbers were skewed by Chinese New Year, but the complacency of traders may turn to concern if next month’s data does not improve.

This is the second consecutive month of double digit declines in both exports and imports and it shows that Chinese growth is clearly slowing. The pressure to devalue the yuan will increase markedly if the Trade numbers don’t improve in March and that could cause further turbulence in the financial markets.

The recent run up in risk and the rally in commodities have been largely based on the assumption that the Chinese economy has stabilized itself, but there is nothing in today’s Trade data numbers to draw such a sanguine conclusion. Therefore the recent run in Aussie, kiwi and loonie could unwind quickly if the move proves to be just a deadcat bounce.

Meanwhile in UK, the BoE Governor Mark Carney saw a frosty exchange in the UK Parliament testifying on the issue of Brexit. Mr. Carney has tried to remain as neutral as possible in the debate but his clear pro-EU leanings came under strong criticism from pro-Brexit forces in the Parliament and some of the questioning was downright hostile.

Cable was relatively unaffected by the exchange, but did drift just a bit lower as the testimony progressed. The market remains at a standstill as the pro and anti Brexit forces remained even split for now, but the pair is clearly running into resistance at the 1.4300-1.4400 region after its short covering rally and may now drift lower towards 1.4000 support.

With no reports of note in North American trade for the second day in a row, the market could remain rangebound for the rest of day. The EUR/USD has been stationary here for the better part of two days at the 1.10 level but traders may begin to square up ahead of the ECB meeting and that could send it lower again.

Boris Schlossberg
Managing Director

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