As we are closely approaching our 1.40 target for Cable (here), we chose an interesting chart this week that shows a scatter plot of the UK equity market (FTSE 100) with GBPUSD exchange rate, using a weekly frequency since January 2009. Even though the relationship is not as clear as for Japan Equities and USDJPY (here), we can still observe a negative ‘Pavlovian‘ relationship where a cheaper currency usually implies higher equities. For instance, the British pound was massively sold post referendum (June 2016) on the back of an elevated political and economic uncertainty, high volatility and negative investors’ sentiment. Cable plunged from 1.44 a week before Brexit vote to reach a low of roughly 1.20 in October 2016 before starting its recovery in the first quarter of 2017.
One interesting observation is in the equity market; even though the FTSE 100 sold from 7,000 in April 2015 to 5,700 in February 2016 prior the event (as Cable), the post-Brexit rounds of Sterling depreciation played in favor of UK equities. However, over the past few months, the situation recovered in the UK, both the uncertainty and the volatility eased. If we look at the Economic and Political Uncertainty index, a monthly series based on newspaper coverage developed by Baker, Bloom and Davis, it is down from almost 1,200 (summer 2016) to 200, its prior Brexit average, bringing Cable’s 1M ATM implied volatility from 19 to 7.85 (here). At the same time, the 3-month 25 Delta Risk Reversal is back into the positive territory (from -6 in June / July 2016), meaning that the implied volatility on calls is more expensive than puts (here).
With an equity market closing at 7,730 on Friday and Cable at 1.3850 (flirting with the 1.39), we are curious to see if the relationship will continue this year. Hence the question is: will the Footsie break its 8,000 psychological resistance while Cable continues its momentum?
Our view is that the Bank of England may surprise the market in 2018 concerning its interest rate path. With the December 2019 short-sterling futures contract trading at 98.88 (i.e. implied rate of 1.12 by the end of 2019), market participants are currently pricing in two hikes for the next couple of years. We think that three to four hikes is more appropriate to the current economic climate, and policymakers may send a signal in the February update of its inflation forecasts, triggering some moves in the short-term interest rate market. We think that a potential move in the forward IR curves will benefit to the Sterling pound, however equities may struggle to reach new highs and break above the 8,000 level.
Chart: Cable vs. FTSE 100 (Source: Reuters Eikon)
Markets have been pretty shy this week, with equities recovering after two weeks of ‘correction’.
The S&P500 found support slightly above the 1,900 level on Friday after a 4.35% decline since July 24 high of 1,991.39. Market sentiment worsened as Obama launched another Iraq Assault, with traders potentially willing to put on some bearish positions; however it seems to me that markets don’t seem to be able to handle increasing risk well. AUDJPY eased 150 pips to find support at 94.40, which means that we reached our target of 94.60 based on our previous trade recommendation (see here).
Another sharp move was in the German market with the benchmark DAX index (blue line) off more than 11% between July 2 high (10,032.28) and last Friday’s low of 8,903.49. If you add the French and UK benchmark indexes (FTSE100 in red and CAC40 in orange), you can see that they had approximately the same path (see graph below), both down 4.3% and 7.5% respectively.
The single currency remains under pressure after last week equities sell-off and disappointing fundamentals. EURUSD is trading at a 9-month low, slightly below the 1.3350 level, after German ZEW survey came in well below expectations yesterday as geopolitical tensions and the sluggish recovery weigh on the European’s largest economy. Russia is one of Germany’s main trading partners, therefore there are signs that the German economy will grow at a lower rate than expected in 2014. As a reminder, final Q1 GDP came in at 0.8%; growth is expected to be flat on Q2 according to analysts’ first estimates.
Traders will watch EZ Q2 GDP first estimate and the final July CPI tomorrow, which are expected to come in at 0.1% QoQ and 0.4% YoY respectively. I am still bearish on EURJPY (entered at 137.20 with a MT target at 134.10), mainly based on a Euro weakness (ECB easing in addition to poor fundamentals).
Yen: The BoJ two-day meeting didn’t change any forecast on USDJPY, and the pair is still stuck within its 101-103 range for the past four months (couple of exceptions). Equities sell-off (Nikkei index down 1,000 pts between July 31 and Aug 8) combined with low US yields (10-year bottomed at 2.35% on Friday and is now trading slightly above the 2.40% level) played in favour of the JPY. USDJPY was sold to 101.50 on Friday and is now trading in the middle of its 200-range. Last night, we saw that Japan Q2 GDP collapsed by 6.8% according to Japan’s Cabinet Office (slightly less than the 7.1% expected), its worst contraction since 2011. While inventories additions added 1.0% growth, consumer spending fell 5.2% QoQ after the nation increased its sales tax from 5 to 8 percent on April 1st. I will get back to Japan this week with an article focused on its economy outlook and what are BoJ policymakers’ options.