Home Daily Commentaries AUD and NZD tie for bottom spot on Thursday; GBP rallies on hopes of Irish border solution

AUD and NZD tie for bottom spot on Thursday; GBP rallies on hopes of Irish border solution

Daily Currency Update

The Aussie Dollar is having a bad week, though unlike the random walk of its Kiwi cousin, there is plenty of fundamental justification for the currency’s weakness. Poor GDP figures then a disappointing set of trade numbers have pulled the rug from under the AUD at a time when we’re already seeing signs of softness in consumer confidence, wages and the residential property market. That’s a pretty long list of negative factors even before we factor in an inquiry into the country’s major banks; it’s a good thing the cricket is offering a welcome diversion.

During Sydney time on Thursday, AUD fell from 0.7566 to 0.7545 when the trade figures were released. London walked in at 0.7540 and hit the pair down to a low of 0.7515 just before the New York day began. It then traded sideways through the North American day but couldn’t get back above the old 0.7540 support level and finished the Northern Hemisphere day at a 5-month low of 0.7507. The AUD/NZD cross was flat around 1.1000 as traders couldn’t decide which of the two currencies they disliked least, whilst GBP/AUD has just broken above last week’s near 18-month high to open this morning at 1.7940.

Key Movers

The Kiwi Dollar continues to frustrate and defy analysis, swinging from top to bottom in the daily performance tables almost at random. On Thursday it shared with the AUD the wooden spoon for worst performing currency, even though the economic data has actually been pretty solid. The job vacancy numbers Tuesday were sound and Wednesday we learned that building activity in the Wellington region grew strongly over the past year.

Yesterday, Stats NZ reported that seasonally adjusted total wholesale trade sales value rose 1.1 percent in the September 2017 quarter, after rising 1.6 percent in the June 2017 quarter. This was the sixth consecutive quarterly rise, driven mainly driven by fruit exports and grocery wholesaling. With a half decent dairy auction too, after 4 consecutive declines, it would have been reasonable to expect the NZD to outperform the AUD but that’s not how it turned out.

NZD/USD ended the New York session at its low of the day at USD0.6825. Today we’ll get the last of the so-called ‘partial data’ which feed in to the GDP data as Stats NZ release the survey of manufacturing for the September quarter at 10.45am local time. GDP itself isn’t released until December 21st; more than 10 weeks after the end of the quarter.

The British Pound rose on Thursday on a belief that somehow a deal on the Irish question must and will be reached before the end of the week. This may well turn out to be an over-optimistic assessment. The Irish Deputy Prime Minister speaking in the Dublin parliament said, “We are in a position where we still need to find a way forward but, let me be very clear, the core issues that Ireland got agreement on at the start of this week are not changing”. The BBC Political Editor tweeted she was hearing, “DUP and Tory Chief Whips in negotiations this afternoon” but nothing was forthcoming as reporters door-stepped MP’s in Whitehall.

The history of EU negotiations – think back to Greece and the sovereign debt crises – is that deadlines are moveable and even final deadlines prove quite flexible. The price action in the GBP suggests a belief that a compromise deal will be agreed at some point over the weekend. If the opposite were the case, then the pound would already have fallen further than it has over the last few days. A lack of agreement could well bring down the Coalition government and a market facing the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour administration would not look on with equanimity.

GBP/USD bounced more than a full cent off the day’s 1.3333 low to leave it a net 70 pips higher over the past 24 hours and though Friday brings the welcome distraction of some UK economic data (manufacturing production, construction output and the trade balance) it is politics and Ireland which will again dominate the whole day ahead.

The USD Dollar very marginally extended its gains for a fourth consecutive day on Thursday. It’s index against a basket of major currencies reached a 2-week high of 93.43 late in the London morning before closing in New York around 93.40. It was helped by a stock market which regained its losses of the last two sessions and by a decent set of weekly jobless claims figures ahead of Friday’s November labour market report.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 236,000 for the week ended Dec. 2, the Labor Department said. Data for the prior week was unrevised. It was the third straight weekly decline in claims and was the 144th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labour market was of course much smaller. According to a Reuters survey, non-farm payrolls probably increased by 200,000 in November after surging 261,000 in October.

Job growth in October was boosted by the return to work of thousands of employees, mostly in low-wage industries like hospitality and retail, who had been temporarily dislocated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The unemployment rate is expected to remain steady at 4.1%. Markets usually approach the monthly US labour market report in a state of eager anticipation but it’s hard to see anything – however dramatic – shifting the Fed from a 25bp hike next week. More of the same hasn’t been a bad backdrop for the stock market in 2017 and equities need to advance less than 1% to be back at fresh all-time highs. The USD should continue to find support if stocks hold up.

The euro continued to grind lower in Thursday’s European morning session without getting any support from further strength in incoming economic data. The morning brought the final estimate of third quarter Eurozone GDP which fleshes out the provisional numbers in a little more detail. The very encouraging feature of Q2 had been a 2.2% jump in investment spending. Q3 has added to this with a further 1.1% gain. Household consumption and investment both contributed around 0.2% to the 0.6% q/q total, with net trade and government both contributing +0.05% and inventories 0.1%.

Within the Eurozone, the fastest quarterly growth rates were registered in Malta (+1.8%) Slovenia (+1.0%) and Cyprus (+0.9%) whilst the slowest were Belgium, Estonia and Greece (+0.3%). Broadening the analysis to the EU 28, Romania grew a hugely impressive 2.6% q/q whilst at the other end of the table, Denmark was the only economy which contracted in Q3. From its low point at lunchtime of USD1.1778, the EUR then rallied 25 pips and got back on to a 1.18 handle in the New York session before giving up all its gains into the close; another very frustrating day for trend and momentum traders and equally difficult for those who place more weight on fundamental indicators. AUD/EUR begins in Sydney this morning at 0.6378 with NZD/EUR at 0.5800.

The CAD fell again on Thursday as local media reflected further on the more dovish comments in the BoC Statement. It drew no support from an oil price which rallied around 70 cents on the day with NYMEX crude finishing around $56.70 per barrel. Nor did it benefit from the latest data from the construction sector. A 3.5% m/m increase in October building permits far exceeded consensus forecasts for a gain of 1.5% whilst September was upwardly revised to 4.9% from a previously reported 3.8% rise. Non-residential building permits jumped 5.5%, led by intentions for commercial buildings, as Quebec and Ontario planned more warehouses and office buildings.

Both provinces have seen their unemployment rates fall as their economies have picked up. Permits for industrial buildings also rose 14.2 percent on construction intentions for factories and plants in Alberta, which is recovering from the oil price shock two years ago.

As for the purchasing managers survey, this shrank only very modestly from 63.8 to 63.0 in November whilst the gauge of employment rose to an adjusted 53.9 from 52.0, boding well for further job gains. As with the New Zealand Dollar, the Canadian Dollar did what it did on Thursday despite the data, not because of it. It opens in the APAC time zone this morning at USD1.2860 and AUD/CAD0.9655.

Expected Ranges

  • AUD/NZD: 1.0960 - 1.1095 ▼
  • GBP/AUD: 1.7800 - 1.8000 ▲
  • AUD/USD: 0.7430 - 0.7540 ▼
  • AUD/EUR: 0.6360 - 0.6400 ▼
  • AUD/CAD: 0.9620 - 0.9690 ▼