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There is a small chance that the political deadlock in Spain will be resolved this week. Despite the agreement on some 150 policy points, the Popular Party and Ciudadanos, the new center-right party, they will not secure a majority without the tacit support of some members of either the Socialists or the new left party Podemos.
The US dollar is a little softer against most of the major and emerging market currencies. The exception is the Japanese yen, where the greenback has moved above JPY103 for the first time in a month. The tone is consolidative as the market awaits assurances that the jobs growth this month has been sufficiently strong as to keep the prospects of a September meeting still alive.
The market recognizes that the indication by the FOMC at the end of last year that four rates hikes in 2016 may be appropriate was far from the mark. At the same time, investors are coming around to the prospects that the Fed is not one and done either.
A key issue for investors and policymakers is the terminal rate for Fed funds. This terminal rate is what economists call the natural or neutral interest rate. It is the rate that is consistent with full employment, capacity utilization and stable prices.
The US dollar is trading firmly, largely within yesterday's ranges. The odds implied by the September Fed fund futures eased to 36% from 42% before the weekend, but ahead of Fischer's Bloomberg TV appearance, and tomorrow's ADP employment estimate, the market seems cautious about fading the dollar's strength.
This Great Graphic comes from the Wall Street Journal. It shows what is happening to the pay of the least compensated in the US. Their pay is going up at a pace that is exceeding the averages and inflation.
The data is from Q2 16. Weekly wages for full-time employees in the 25th percentile, earning about $13 an hour, are up about 3.1% from a year ago. The Labor Department data show that this is the largest increase since 2009. The pace of increase exceeds the pay of median workers who make about $20 an hour for full-time work.
The US dollar staged a strong pre-weekend rally on hints that the Fed will raise rates before the end of the year. There was initially follow through dollar buying in Asia before a more stable tone emerged in Europe, where London markets are closed for a bank holiday. The easing of the dollar’s upside momentum may set the stage for a bout of profit-taking later today and tomorrow.
EM ended last week on a soft note, as Fed tightening expectations ratcheted up. The December Fed funds futures contract has an implied yield of 0.5%, the highest since June 2. Note that on June 3, US rates plunged after the May jobs shocker (+38k). If the hawkish Fed storyline can be maintained, then EM will have trouble getting traction. This Friday’s jobs report for August will be key, with consensus at +185k vs. +255k in July.
With 17 simple words and the help of clarification from her deputy, Yellen changed the near-term dynamics in the capital markets. By saying that "...I believe that case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months," Yellen placed her marker down.
The summer lull for speculators in the currency futures market continued in the CFTC reporting week ending August 23. Of the 16 gross currency futures positions we track, speculator adjustments were less than 3k contracts in all but three.
The bears added to their gross short sterling position for the eighth consecutive week. The seven hundred contract increase was the smallest of the streak and lifts the gross short speculative position to 130.8k contracts, a new record.
The US dollar had spent the last full week of August mostly confined to narrow trading ranges against the major currencies until the Yellen spoke as at the end of the week. She confirmed the constructive assessment of the economy already offered by both Fischer and Dudley in recent days. While acknowledging that the case of a rate hike was strengthening, she shed no light on the timeframe.
Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Patel has been named to succeed outgoing Governor Rajan; political risk is back in South Africa; the Colombian government and the FARC rebels have reached a final peace agreement; S&P cut the outlook on Mexico’s BBB+ rating from stable to negative.
Yellen's presentation at Jackson Hole today is the highlight of the week. It also marks the end of the summer for many North American and European investors. It may be a bit of a rolling start for US participants, until after Labor Day. However, with US employment data next Friday, many will return in spirit if not in body.