Dollar, Euro & Sterling in focus, Asian currencies under the radar screen
Much of the market focus in recent months has been on major reserve currencies, namely:
· The US Dollar which, contrary to bearish expectations and in line with our benign Dollar view, has treaded water in the past six weeks and since the Fed’s tweak on 27th August to its dual inflation and employment mandate;
· The Euro’s rapid appreciation in July, its more prosaic performance in August and the first half of September and speculation that the European Central Bank would try to jawbone the currency weaker. Instead the ECB as its policy meeting on 10th September resorted to verbal intervention “light”, in line with our core scenario that Brazen ECB verbal intervention against Euro was unwarranted and unlikely (9th September 2020).
· Sterling’s collapse last week and only partial recovery in the past four trading sessions. We are sticking to our view that the UK economy and Sterling face four potential headwinds in coming months, including i) fiscal stimulus measures being unwound, ii) a no-deal Brexit, iii) higher taxes and iv) a further re-tightening of lockdown measures in coming months (see UK & Sterling facing potential quadruple whammy, 4th September 2020).
Conversely, Asian currencies have seemingly fallen under the radar screen, for good reason. They have exhibited little directionality within very narrow ranges in the past month, particularly relative to high-yielding emerging market currencies.
We think this is the result of Asian central banks’ ability and willingness to keep their currencies on a tight leash, in order to minimise their disinflationary impact and maintain export competitiveness while at the same time capping the cost to governments, corporates and households of servicing sizeable foreign-currency denominated debt.
The Renminbi Nominal Effective Exchange Rate’s 2% appreciation in the past month, while unspectacular, is noteworthy and will be the topic of a forthcoming report.
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