Tag Archives: EUR

Gotta give the euro credit

Someone out there sure likes these things.

The bad news has been almost relentless since August but the euro continues to hang in there. At 1.33, EUR/USD iss down almost 10 cents in that time but that’s not bad considering the existential crisis pounding away at the bulls. Moreover, EUR/USD is holding above the 2010 low of 1.1876 and the 2009 low of 1.2331. We are almost at precisely the same levels as this time last year.

I’m bearish on the pair and that isn’t going to change any time soon but I have to concede that given everything we have learned in the past year, I’m impressed the experimental currency is hanging in there. The banks and countries are bordering on insolvency and a recession is on the horizon but someone is still buying.

You have to wonder where we would be if Europe’s banks and governments had some a slightly better job of managing their books. It may take a long time to sort out and that will undoubtedly keep the downward trend going but I’m starting to think that one day the euro will soar from the ashes, in some form.

It would be easy to point at the other side of the equation at USD but the analysis doesn’t hold up. The euro is well above its credit crisis lows against GBP and CAD while holding above the early 2011 lows in AUD and NZD.

EUR/USD rallied into the end of last year and everything tells me it will do the same in 2011. The speculative market is heavily short but the next 10 days will be round after round of short covering.

I don’t fight long term trends but my best idea here is to hope for a selloff on Friday/Monday and then jump in around 1.32 with 1.3144 as a stop and a target of 1.35.


Last Gasp for The Euro

The news out of Greece is good. A coalition has been struck that will pass the EU-mandated reforms in order to receive the upcoming aid tranche. Papandreou will step down, a new PM will be named Monday and an election will be held after the aid is dispersed.

Barring any surprises (and they can’t be ruled out) this clears the way for a short-term bounce in the euro, which opened the week at 1.3780. Looking at the chart, I expect a climb toward the 100-day moving average at 1.4040, or perhaps a shade below, followed by a prolonged downtrend that will be confirmed by a break below 1.36.


My trade will be to sell EUR/USD around 1.40 and hang on for the ride lower. I will add on a fall below 1.36 and take profits after the first significant spike lower, or 1.32.

The two catalysts I envision for the move lower are slower growth, highlighted by further ECB cuts and political discord, which will resume in Greece in the elections and is likely to arise in Italy.


Greek Referendum Could Be a Gamechanger

Greek Prime Minister Papandreou had a Halloween surprise for markets on Monday as he announced a referendum on the EU bailout deal. The move was completely unexpected and could throw Greece (and Europe) into chaos. The euro dropped almost 100 pips as the news hit.

The Greek public will decide whether or not to accept the troika bailout terms. It seems almost a certainty that voters will reject the deeply unpopular austerity measures, a move that would force an early election.

The referendum is slated for January and the only hope seems to be a constitutional clause that says referendums can only be held on matters of great national importance. Some are saying the current situation doesn’t apply, as hard as that is to believe.

Another hope is that Papandreou will not last long enough for a referendum, he may be defeated in a confidence vote on Nov. 2-4.

The current thinking is that Papandreou wants out or that he wants to share the responsibility of the failure of the state with the public. Bondholders who accepted a haircut only two days ago may already be having second thoughts.

Turning to the forex market, the news today highlights the endless uncertainty that will plague Europe for years to come. The euro was absolutely crushed today, falling to 1.3848 from the close on Friday at 1.4146.

The reversal back below the 55, 100 and 200-day moving averages and the close below these levels at the end of the month suggests the rally was a false breakout. Knowing that the market was positioned heavily short (via CFTC COT) it makes perfect sense. Thursday’s rally was nothing more than a massive short squeeze.

I expect a half-hearted rebound in the next day or two and I will be looking to sell it.


Quiet day favours further risk appetite

I have to score the ho-hum day in markets on Friday as a win for the bulls. I expected a further pullback in risk sentiment, especially with the soft Italian bond auction. My feeling is that this means EUR/USD is on its way to 1.44 and USD/CAD down to 0.9800.

I live blogged all day Friday at ForexLive so some expanded thoughts are there. My end-of-day comments are at Intermarket Strategy.


Not Reaching for the Falling Knife

The news was bang on consensus. The EFSF, bank capital and the Greek haircut were all in line with what everyone was expecting yet markets have reacted as if hit by a bolt of lightening.

To some extent, I get it. I was evidently one among many who thought European leaders wouldn’t be able to pull it off – the boat was tilted far too heavy to that side and the reckoning is here.

That’s not to say there aren’t risks. Nothing has been finalized and the devil is always in the details.

I’m of the firm belief that economic growth will continue to disappoint. Even today’s GDP report showed the rise in consumer spending tilted towards healthcare and utilities at the expense of the savings rate, suggesting the consumer is tapped out for everything but the essentials.

The Bank of Canada took a dovish approach this week and the ECB and RBA may both cut in the week ahead. There is a tremendous opportunity to short CAD, EUR and AUD today and those would be my three favourite trades. But there is no rush, I have little doubt that selling EUR/USD at the tail end of US trading today would yield an easy 70 pips, but let’s see if we can set-up for something more.

The dollar was the worst performer, followed by the yen. The Swiss franc led, followed by the euro.

Of all the strange things today, the CHF rally is the strangest. How on earth is CHF rallying in all this? The only answer is that the SNB sold some of their euros into the rally.

The first chart to check out is AUD/USD. If anything is overbought, it’s this. The resistance at 1.0764 is a stop that makes for a good short-term sell.


Buying USD/CAD longs is the trade I’m looking for right now but if I had a gun to my head, I would be selling because 0.9800 looks like it’s coming.

Finally, I can’t say that I’m crazy about the euro. The ECB is probably going to cut rates tomorrow but with the momentum the way it is, any short for more than a 70 pip move is too risky.








After the Greek Haircut it’s Time to Focus on the ECB

So much is going on in Europe. The number one thing I’m waiting on is the Greek bond haircut but something around 50% seems fairly certain at this point. The euro will rally once there is an agreement but it will be telling to see how much it rises.

Quick recap/analysis of today’s news:

–          EU agrees to 9% bank capital ratio. €106B to be raised, with 75% of it in Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. The list of how much banks in each country must raise is here.

There is no way Greek banks can raise €30 billion so that money is coming straight out of the EFSF. I don’t know all the details of European financials but I’m eager to see how they react in stock markets tomorrow. I’ll go from there.

There is also to be a question about whether convertible debt will count toward the ratio but I’m guessing Germany and Spain will lose.

Berlin and Madrid are mounting a last-ditch bid to lower the bar by allowing a broader range of capital to be used as part of the “temporary buffer”. German and Spanish banks in particular will have a lot more work to do to reach the new, 9 per cent core tier one capital ratio if they are not allowed to count some hybrid forms of capital. (link)

–          No concrete news on the EFSF but it sounds like a two-pronged approach. 1) first loss guarantees on new periphery debt 2) Use the EFSF and get investors (China) build a fund that will buy debt on the secondary market.

For instance, Italy will need to issue about €300 billion next year. If the EFSF guarantees the first 20% of losses, that would amount to €60 billion. If Italian funding is still under strain, the second approach will be implemented.

At those rates, the EFSF will be swallowed up fairly quickly. The longer-term risk is that debt markets get addicted to the EFSF backstop and that it will never be removed. On the face of it, it’s an okay plan. The near-term risk is that the details fail to impress.

–          Italy delivered a letter of intent to reform spending and sell €15 billion of assets over the coming three years.

A fist-fight broke out in Italian parliament about pension reform after an opposition leader said coalition partner Bossi’s didn’t favour pension reform because his wife retired on a generous state pension at the age of 39 from her job as a teacher.

I would say stability in Italy is a major question mark right now and Burlesconi is a major liability. The whole thing could come crashing down because of these idiots.

As I mentioned, the Greek haircut news is really the last piece of the puzzle for the immediate term. The market will then immediately shift its focus to the ECB’s Nov. 3 meeting, just one week away.

Although this is the first meeting led by Draghi, I don’t see him hesitating to cut rates.

Regardless of the outcome, the market will make a strong push to price in a dovish scenario over the next three days. I’m not trading this news but I would like to sell a post-Greek-haircut bounce, especially if a spike over 1.40 looks like a short squeeze.


EFSF Guideline Report is No Decisive Solution

The euro jumped 100 pips in a flash on the release of the EFSF guideline report. The move is nonsense and has retraced completely. EUR/USD has fallen as low as 1.3656 which is 120 pips below our trade entry point. Let’s take a closer look at the news.

There is nothing remarkable about the text of the document. It merely gives the EFSF power to purchase bonds in the secondary market, something that was widely expected. It also allows for credit lines to governments for the specific purpose of bank recapitalization but only as a last resort. The rules are effective immediately.

Intervention should be done “on the basis of ECB analysis and following a decision by mutual agreement from member states” and the condition for access requires “continued compliance with appropriate policy reforms” dictated by euro area finance ministers.

This draft may be all that’s accomplished this weekend. The latest reports suggest another round of meetings has been set-up for next week because of disagreements over leveraging the EFSF and the size of the Greek haircut.

“There will be no agreements,” said one senior German official. “This will now happen Wednesday at the earliest.”

The weekend will flop but the stone has been kicked down the road. There is a chance that 1.3650 breaks as headlines disappoint. I’m tempted to book profits if we see a large EUR selloff before the weekend.

Negotiations are divided on the French idea of turning the EFSF into a bank. Germany is adamantly opposed but may be growing isolated. If Sarkozy is able to force the idea forward, it would be the worst-case realistic scenario for EUR shorts.

In other news, Germany cut its growth forecast for next year down to a paltry 1%. It’s hard to imagine any other economies in the region doing any better.


Looking to Buy EUR on ‘Marshall Plan’

The euro surged on news that the European bailout fund will be given the power to buy periphery debt in the secondary market. We think this is a wise move by European leaders. It will chase out shorts in the bond market and spook CDS buyers. We anticipate buying to be unannounced (unlike the Fed’s QE).


The riskier part of the plan, which is a draft “Marshall Plan”, calls for EU investments and growth stimulation in Greece. Banks will be recapitalized with an estimated €25 billion via loans to the Greek government. The EFSF will issue loans at around 3.5% and the duration will be extended from 7.5 years to at least 15.


As the news leaked out, EUR/USD jumped to 1.4315 from 1.4190. Technically, it sparked an outside bullish reversal candle. The move above 1.4309 surpasses the 100-day and the 55-day moving averages.


At the same time, S&P said there is a 50% chance it will downgrade the US to AA in the next three months. They warned that a short-term agreement to boost the debt ceiling without a long-term deficit-cutting plan could cause the downgrade as soon as early August. Under this scenario, they see US long-term yields rising 25-50 bps with GDP growth also cut by 25-50 bps.


They said a failure to reach an agreement would likely shove the US economy back into recession. They think it’s possible the Treasury could delay other payments and push default beyond Aug. 11. The latest possible date they see is Aug. 15, when $62 billion in interest is payable.


Euro Slides on Portuguese Downgrade

A Portuguese downgrade dragged the euro lower in generally quiet trading. The Swiss franc appears to have regained its footing as US stocks declined for the first time in six sessions.

The lone market-moving news was from Moody’s who slashed Portugal’s rating to Ba2, down four notches and below investment grade. The move is ominous and suggests a very high possibility Portugal will need to follow Greece toward a second bailout. EUR/USD fell as low as 1.4397 but has rebounded to 1.4426. See the earlier IMT for more.

The euro was spared by expectations of a rate hike on Thursday. Traders looking to exploit further sovereign concerns in Europe should look to the Swiss franc. It has rallied broadly and will not be overwhelmed by the ECB decision. The commodity currencies were all lower versus CHF on Tuesday after 5 days of gains. Another trade that was boosted by the flight to safety from Europe was gold as it surged $30 to $1515.

Unfortunately, the data calendar remains scarce. The lone release in Asia is Japan’s May preliminary leading indicators report. A rebound to 99.8 from 96.2 is expected but the report is unlikely to have any market-moving impact. In Monday’s session, rumours circulated of a Chinese interest rate hike this weekend. Moody’s also spooked markets with a report saying local government loans may default at a 10% rate. The fallout may dictate trading on in the hours ahead.