FX price action on late Monday showed that investors still favour dollar despite recent gains, and the story of China defaults weighs on demand for risk. Among the G10 currencies, NZD has the largest growth potential due to anticipated RBNZ rate hike tomorrow and possible hint of another hike this year. Lagarde's comments are unlikely to move the EUR, and the British pound seems to have become less responsive to the risks related to the UK divorce from the EU.
Yesterday, the US currency retreated on almost all fronts with the equities’ downside providing surprisingly little relief. The source of additional pressure on USD was OPEC+ decision to hike output by 400K b/d which was considered as a bullish outcome as recent energy shortages worldwide stirred market rumors of supply failing to catch up with demand growth. The rapid rise in oil prices was also perceived as a reflection of dwindling world reserves, to which OPEC+ could respond with a more aggressive increase in production and it might look perfectly reasonable move. The decision to modestly boost production pushed prices higher by more than 2% on Monday, limiting demand for risk assets somewhat amid heightened expectations that central banks will rush to tighten policy as commodity markets, especially energy, indicate more cost-push inflation is ahead.
Demand for safe haven assets was also boosted by news that another Chinese developer, Fantasia, was unable to pay $205M on its bonds on Monday. The news was a warning that China's real estate problems could extend beyond Evergrande. China's high yield bond yields posted its biggest jump since 2013, indicating strong investor outflows. In general, the junk debt market in China has become, in a sense, a barometer of the situation associated with defaults, and now correlates with the demand for risk in foreign markets. This also implies that the risks of default by large companies in China is a highly supportive factor for the US currency. Monday USD decline proved to be short-lived with the index rebounding back to 94 handle on Tuesday with a short-term uptrend line staying largely intact:
In terms of eco data, non-mfg. PMI from ISM could revive bullish USD momentum, as a positive reading will boost chances of a strong Payrolls report, which in turn will weigh on Fed confidence in its exit from stimulus programs. It is worth paying special attention to the hiring component of this index, since a large share of employment in the US works in the services sector, and dynamics of the sub-index may shed light on possible direction of surprise of the NFP report on Friday.