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Fundamental Analysis 12.12.2017 - Market Outlook

After yesterday’s light schedule, we have a more substantial roster of events today. The day starts off with the British inflation data. The inflation rate is forecast to remain unchanged from the previous month, both on the headline figure and core inflation. This would suggest that inflation may have peaked for now. Certainly it looks as if the producer price index (PPI) peaked back in February 2017 and March 2017.  

With all these numbers coming out, someone might think which is better to watch? As usual, if one is tremendously different than expectations, then that one will garner the most attention. But if they’re all just a little different than the market consensus, then the core CPI appears to have the greatest impact on the pound. EUR/GBP tends to respond better to the data than GBP/USD does.

Next up is the German ZEW survey. This is a survey of analysts and investors, it’s more of a sentiment indicator than anything. I found that the current situation index is more closely correlated with the subsequent movement in EUR/USD than the current situation index. Furthermore, the relationship is backwards – that is, EUR/USD tend to decline (ie EUR weakens) when the index beats the market consensus.

The US National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) small business optimism index has come off the euphoric peak hit right after last year’s election, but is beginning to come back a bit. It’s expected to be up slightly today. Meanwhile, the employment sub-index, which has already been announced, continues to soar. That’s a good indicator for the upcoming nonfarm payrolls, because most people in the US work for a small business. 

The US producer price index (PPI) is forecast to continue rising, although that may be because of oil prices – the rate of increase in core PPI, which excludes energy and food, is forecast to be unchanged. In any case both are well above the Federal Reserve’s target inflation rate of 2%, which is bullish USD.

Economists don’t forecast the New Zealand retail food price index, but it still seems to influence NZD significantly sometimes. 

It’s the same story with the Westpac Australian consumer confidence index. The market pays attention to the month-on-month change here, not the actual index level. 

Japan’s machinery orders data is released today. This month the month-on-month change is expected to be higher than the previous month, but it’s expected to decline more on a year-on-year basis. Nonetheless, I suspect that the higher-than-average rise on a month-on-month basis may prove positive for the yen, if anything.  

Overnight we will start getting the results from the special election in the US state of Alabama. The election pits Democrat Doug Jones against Republican Roy Moore. Doug Jones is the former US Attorney for a region in Alabama. Roy Moore is a former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

Currently the Republicans have only a two-seat majority in the Senate (52-48). The Vice President can break a tie, so they can lose two votes and still win. If Doug Jones wins, that margin of safety will be reduced to one. Even more importantly, that extra seat would give the Democrats a chance to take control of the Senate at the mid-term elections in November 2018. On the other hand, if Roy Moore wins, the Republicans are likely to retain their majority in the Senate next year. In other words, this could be the decisive seat a year from now.

I’m not sure how the dollar will react one way or the other. Probably, the market will favor continuity over disruption and Republican control over gridlock, meaning that a Roy Moore victory could be USD-positive.

This article comprises the personal view and opinion of the STO Investment Research Desk and at no time should be construed as Investment Advice.


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