However, in a subsequent press conference, BoC governor Stephen Poloz remarked that the Bank had recently considered monetary stimulus but had decided against it. Given Mr. Poloz's history with the Export Development Corp. and his perceived preference for a weaker loonie, Mr. Market promptly hit the currency hard. CAD had gained on firm crude but that all vanished in a heartbeat, as the currency took a beating. The sales and inflation numbers mentioned previously didn't help either, as well as a revised Q4 GDP forecast: +1.4% downgraded from +1.9%. Mr. Poloz also expressed concern over Canada's less-than-stellar export performance, overlooking the fact that governments elsewhere are also weakening their currencies in an effort to gain export market share. This is an example of diminishing returns - or time for a new approach?
On Friday, Canadian trade negotiators working on a deal with the EU walked out in protest over changes. These negotiations had been going on for five years and were nearly done, until torpedoed by, reportedly, Belgian's Walloon minority. This may add further CAD weakness near term.
The EUR was buffeted by unclear signals from the European Central Bank concerning QE and the possible ending, tapering or continuation of the Bank's 80 bln EUR/month bond purchases, set to end in March/2017. The ECB had expressed impatience over rumours of tapering and ECD head Draghi dismissed them out of hand in his press conference last Thursday. Still, analysts seem to feel that an extension of QE may be in the cards, given the ongoing weakness in the EU economy and the relatively benign degree of inflation – still below 2.0%. The Deutsche Bank crisis continues to stumble along, unresolved, while area politicians look for a face-saving way to bail out the bank without appearing to do so, or see a saviour arrive prepared to save the bank.
The GBP bounced up and down on the outlook for a 'Hard Brexit' as opposed to a 'Soft Brexit', the former negative for GBP and the latter positive. Essentially, a 'Hard Brexit' would mean non-preferred UK access to the EU market but with domestic control over immigration; a 'Soft Brexit' would mean preferred UK access to the EU market, similar to that of Norway, without domestic control over immigration. Obviously the issue is more involved than that, but these are the salient political and economic points. Article 50 is the legislation pertaining to Brexit which must be passed by the UK parliament to set the process in motion. Incidentally, Ireland is now attempting to market itself as a new banking centre for financials looking to exit London as a result of Brexit – leave the City and relocate to Dublin! EU member, EUR currency, low taxes…they might have something there.
In the Far East, little of consequence was reported in Japan, while there was growing concern over the state of the Chinese economy. Numbers released earlier in the week appeared soft but okay, although some analysts are starting to express a degree of mild scepticism over these government-released statistics. NZD gained on technical trading.
Speaking of technicals, the US Dollar Index (USDX), a bellwether index widely following by traders, is on the verge of a so-called 'Golden Cross', where the 50 day moving average (in blue) crosses above the 200 day moving average (in red). If this does occur and, according to the chart below, it is very likely to happen this week, it will be a major bullish signal for the USD.