A number of central banks held monetary policy meetings this week. They clearly showed a tendency to speak or take decisions related to the tightening of monetary policy. Brazil, following the Russian Federation, raised its key rate from 2.75% to 3.5%. Overall, emerging market economies are shifting from talk to action and lift interest rates in response to rising inflationary pressures. The G10 countries have progressed much less in this sense, but those of them that at least talk about raising rates or reducing QE have successfully drawn attention of foreign investors. Among them are Canada and Norway, which were relatively open about their plans to curtail credit stimulus, which sent their currencies higher against USD.
Yet in the US, we have a radically new Fed approach to stimulating growth and employment. It implies low rates even though there is clear progress in inflation. If other central banks are not going to play this melody, and apparently, they are less inclined to do that, their real interest rates will likely rise faster compared with the real rates in the US. Of course, this dynamic will gradually put pressure on the dollar, as investors will follow the Central Banks that tighten policy, thus pushing higher real returns on local assets.
That is why this week we saw emotional market reaction to the awkward remark of the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, that economy overheating may require interest rate hikes to tame it. To avoid confusion with the Fed guidance, she was quick to clarify that she does not predict and does not recommend a rate hike. Yesterday, Fed representative Robert Kaplan said that it is equally important not to be late with policy tightening, as asset market bubbles and excessive risk-taking fueled by low interest rate environment increases vulnerability to actual Fed tightening.
Focus today on April NFP report. The market expects job growth by 1 million. A positive surprise could in theory mean that the Fed is moving faster towards the employment target, and therefore may begin to phase out monetary stimulus earlier. Therefore, a positive surprise in the data is likely to trigger a new sell-off in long bonds and hit the dollar, as from the discussion above, the situation with real rates in the US will change to the worse for the dollar. In addition, in other large economies, data continues to improve, which changes the forecast for local real rates in a positive direction. This includes data on PMI in China, as well as European statistics released this week. A strong NFP report is likely to allow the dollar index to touch the 90.50 level:
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