Tag Archives: forex

A look at the USD/CAD chart

I have been recommending USD/CAD shorts at ForexLive for the past month based on the break of the wedge from September to mid-January.

The trade worked wonderfully at first, quickly falling from the 1.0150 entry point to below parity.Last Monday, Feb 20, the decline looked like the start of another leg down but the pair has since rebounded 100 pips after falling as low as 0.9907.

Another look at the chart is in order.

d

The pair has been trapped in a 09907 – 1.0052 range for the entire month of February — less than 150 pips. As a trend-following trader, that’s a tough way to make money.

The low coincides with the late-October low of 0.9895 and it will take a close below there to re-establish my utmost confidence in shorts. It’s also a good entry point for someone who is not in this trade.

At the same time, I have to be prudent and protect my profits. I’m putting a stop at the Feb. 16 high of 1.0052, locking in a roughly 100 pip profit.

I’m patient with trades that are in the money, but five-weeks is a long time even if the carry is positive. The run ups in oil and stocks haven’t been the negative shocks I expected for this pair.

The upcoming LTRO is a major event risk and I am expecting major volatility. If I get stopped out here, I will look to establish yen shorts as that is a trade I have been pushing for the past three weeks.

Share

Fleshing out USD/CAD

I’m torn about USD/CAD.

For months, I’ve been looking to buy any weakness in the pair but the daily chart has broken a ‘wedge’ pattern to the downside.

My base case if for a rally to 1.12 around mid-year but I won’t fight the technicals.

It’s time to take a step back and evaluate.

Some of the reasons for my expectations for a rally:

1)      Interest rate differentials. The BOC has held rates at 1.00% since Sept. 2010. If any economic weakness materializes, a drop back to 0.25% is likely. The Fed, meanwhile, is already at zero and policymakers have set a high bar for QE3.

2)      Commodity prices. It’s not shaping up to be a good year for commodities, especially if gold is excluded. Europe is headed toward recession, US construction is virtually nil and China’s growth is slowing. These factors may be priced in but I still see downside, especially with the risks from banks, brokerages and fund redemptions.

3)      The threat of crisis. The longer the world remains at the edge of the abyss, the more likely it is that something pushes it over the edge. Europe, China, the US, the Middle East, Russia – each presents a multitude of risks in 2012.

4)      US growth may see USD gains. We know that the USD will outperform CAD on safe haven trades but surprising US growth will not necessarily flow into commodities. If growth is driven by tech and the automotive sector, Canada may be left out.

5)      There are risks in Canada. Housing prices in Canada have detached from reality. Several provinces are nearing budget crisis. Trade disputes are a risk. RIM is probably done.

But that is all old news. Here is some of what has me worried.

1)      Oil. The tension in Iran is once again solidifying Canada as North America’s oil supplier. It is also driving up prices. With investment returns at nearly zero everywhere, some big money might flow into Alberta oilsands.

2)      US stimulus. I often repeat: the US will never do austerity. Instead, more spending is likely on the way, with commodity-intensive infrastructure projects likely to benefit. At the same time, such projects will keep the US deficit high, removing any USD benefit.

3)      A US bank failure (but not a crisis). After what happened at MF Global, it’s clear that nothing has changed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a blowup at a major US financial this year. The surprise is that it will be quickly contained by the government (perhaps before the news even hits the market) and that would weigh more on USD, especially once talk of regulation re-ignites.

4)      Growth. Canada historically lags US growth. If the US posts a strong first half, there will be a lag before the market appreciates that growth will spill over to Canada.

5)      Mark Carney (BOC Gov). He seems to have a good sense of the risks facing Canada and has consistently fretted about housing. If the US starts to grow, he will beat the Fed on raising rates. If the US falters moderately, he may sacrifice rate cuts in order to control housing inflation.

I’m going to let it sink in for a few days but I’m on guard to sell soon, likely on a break of 1.0050.

Share

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.

Share

Cable near three-week low

Every day we spin the wheel. Pick one of the PIIGS and pick one of the four following problems: banks, bonds, politics, ratings.

One day it’s Greece and politics, the next it’s Italy and bonds. The news is never positive; just bad or good enough to spark a short squeeze.

I’m generally a trend-following trader and after two weeks of nasty, directionless gyrations, I’m frustrated.

But there may finally be some clarity. I’m closely watching cable right now. The October rebound cleared but failed to close above the 61.8% retracement of the September fall. Now, we are testing the low end of the range and a break may be imminent.

It’s doubtful that I will trade a potential break of 1.5868. Ideally we will get a close below that level and perhaps a weekly close below 1.5820. That would give be the confidence to sell GBP/USD.

Share

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.

Share

All Bets Are Off as Japan Intervenes, MF Global Sinking

So far USD/JPY has shot to 79.48 from a low of 75.57 and the pair looks like it will push higher after the Ministry of Finance chomps through another set of sell orders  around 79.20. Officials may take aim at 80.00 but based on the comments out of Japan, a Swiss-like peg doesn’t sound likely.

What also has the market spooked is a few headlines from the Wall Street Journal suggesting that clearinghouses and regulators are preparing for an MF Global bankruptcy filing.

It looks as though Interactive Brokers will pick up some client accounts and the rest of the company will be placed into bankruptcy.

EUR/USD is down 120 pips, cable down 150 pips, AUD/USD down 165 pips, USD/CAD up 70 pips and gold down $35.

Intervention and bankruptcy are two of the trickiest trades out there. On the one hand, this channels Lehman and the crisis but MF Global isn’t a huge employer. On the other, what happens as all those bonds hit the market in liquidation. It certainly won’t help Italian spreads.

I want to trade this but I don’t need to trade this, so I’ll sort it out in the morning. If anything, I’m thinking of adding to my EUR/CHF long as traders are reminded about the power, and potential profits, of intervention.

Share

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Selling EUR/USD at 1.3766

I have been on the sidelines and lacking conviction for the past two weeks.

First, I was expecting the US economy to fall harder and faster. More importantly, the Merkozy ‘promise to deliver a plan’ on Oct. 10 generated a 500 pip rally that left me scratching my

The headline risk surrounding this Sunday’s EU Summit became enormous. Yesterday’s Guardian article saying “France and Germany have reached agreement to boost the eurozone’s rescue fund to €2tn (£1.75tn) as part of a “comprehensive plan” to resolve the sovereign debt crisis.”

Aside from the numerous examples of bad grammar in this story (reached agreement?) there has been a wave of denials that has me convinced this story is bunk. The nail in the coffin was a WSJ report saying a bond insurance plan would be illegal under Europe’s no-bailout clause.

In addition, expectations are being ratcheted down for European bank recapitalization. The Greek bailout is fully expected but disappointing periphery growth is not.

It’s very difficult for me to price in what’s expected from the European Summit but betting against European policymakers has been the best trade of the year. Merkel and Finland’s PM today tried to scale back expectations but the market isn’t listening.

In addition, sentiment data remains negative. I’m a big believer in the University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey as a leading indicator. Last week, it was once again near a 30-year low and the lowest non-recessionary level ever.

I see two possible trading outcomes from this weekend’s summit. Outcome 1: Discord, disagreement or disarray. Outcome 2: an agreement that falls short of expectations or becomes impossible to implement.

In Outcome 2, we may see the euro rally on the news. I believe this will be short-lived and an incredible opportunity to sell.

My plan is to sell EUR/USD now with a stop at 1.3936. It’s a wide stop, at almost 180 pips but I’m targeting a drop back to 1.32 – a 560 pip reward. I’m also prepared to add to this trade in the high 1.38s.

Share

Frustrated with USD/CAD

If you would have asked me what my favourite trade was at the start of September, I would have answered, without hesitation, “Long USD/CAD”.

So why didn’t I trade the pair as it rose 750 pips in the month? It was an experience in frustration as I stayed too patient and missed several opportunities. On the one hand, I’m glad I stayed disciplined and didn’t chase. On the other, I’m upset that I missed a trade where I was 100% correct and had a high level of conviction.

What can I do now but head to the sidelines? When you miss a trade, you have to completely forget about it. I’m targeting 1.14 still but at 1.05 the risks are two way. Unless I can buy at 1.03, I’m not even going to think about this pair.

Share