EUR/USD executes U-turn after Lagarde’s hawkish comments

Source Fxstreet
Apr 18, 2024 08:02
  • EUR/USD recovers after Lagarde says “the game is not over” with inflation. 
  • Slow economic growth and sticky inflation in the Eurozone could weigh on EUR/USD. 
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Powell talks about keeping rates higher for longer, and longer.

EUR/USD is trading in the 1.0680s on Thursday, marginally higher on the day, building on the U-turn it began midweek after touching down at the 1.0601 lows of April. 

It is still too early to say whether EUR/USD is undergoing a correction of the downtrend or a reversal, given the strong bullish recovery so far – of 80 pips in 36 hours – keeps bullish hopes alive. 

EUR/USD rebound gains momentum on smidgin of doubt 

EUR/USD’s rebound got an added boost from comments by European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, who said at a speech in Washington late on Wednesday that “The game (of fighting inflation) is not over,” despite adding, “Growth in Europe is mediocre, much slower than in the US. We’re clearly seeing timid signs of recovery.” 

Lagarde’s comments contrast a little with those of some of her ECB colleagues who have said inflation is behaving as it should and tracking nicely lower. It introduces a smidgen of doubt into whether the ECB really will start cutting interest rates in June as markets believe. The maintenance of higher interest rates for longer is positive for the Euro as it attracts more inflows of foreign capital.

Her remark about “Growth in Europe is mediocre,” echoes the view of Rabobank FX Strategists, who argue that whilst there is no risk of a “crisis” in the region, “ the combination of slow growth in the Eurozone and nagging budget pressures could lower the defenses of the EUR going forward." Rabobank suggests a fall to 1.0500 is probable, with risks tilted to the downside. 

EUR/USD pressured by talk of rates for longer in the US

EUR/USD plummeted at the start of April as bets the Federal Reserve (Fed) would cut interest rates in June quickly melted away amidst stickier-than-expected inflation and robust macroeconomic data. 

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said high interest rates would likely be around for longer than previously expected given the little progress being made on inflation in recent months. 

The Fed’s Beige Book, a comprehensive economic survey, on Tuesday repeated the view that little progress had been made on inflation but added that growth and employment were a little stronger than expected.

Everything points to the Fed maintaining interest rates at their relatively high (upper limit of 5.5% for the Fed Funds Rate) levels for a while until the behemoth of inflation is finally slain. 

Indeed, The CME FedWatch tool, a market gauge of the probability of Fed rate cuts, is showing only a 16% probability of a cut in June (from over 70% only a few weeks ago) whilst the odds of a cut by September are now around 70%.   

Technical Analysis: EUR/USD undertakes a youthful recovery

EUR/USD has undergone a volte-face after hitting a floor at 1.0601 on Tuesday (circled). The question now, as most technical questions are, is whether this is a reversal or just a pullback in an ongoing downtrend?

EUR/USD Daily Chart

Momentum has been strong in the short span of the recovery so far, and the Relative Strength Index (RSI) has moved out of oversold, giving a buy signal – another good sign. However, it is too early to draw conclusions. 

The intermediate-term downtrend is probably still in force and in the absence of further proof of a reversal, likely to resume and push the exchange rate lower again. 

Resistance from previous swing lows nearby at around 1.0700 could act as an obstacle to the recovery and see a rotation back down. The level will, in any case, offer technical resistance and provide a rallying point for bears even if their cause is doomed. 

A break below the 1.0601 April lows would post a lower low and indicate a continuation of the downtrend. After that, the next concrete target is at 1.0446, the October 2023 low.

Euro FAQs

The Euro is the currency for the 20 European Union countries that belong to the Eurozone. It is the second most heavily traded currency in the world behind the US Dollar. In 2022, it accounted for 31% of all foreign exchange transactions, with an average daily turnover of over $2.2 trillion a day. EUR/USD is the most heavily traded currency pair in the world, accounting for an estimated 30% off all transactions, followed by EUR/JPY (4%), EUR/GBP (3%) and EUR/AUD (2%).

The European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, Germany, is the reserve bank for the Eurozone. The ECB sets interest rates and manages monetary policy. The ECB’s primary mandate is to maintain price stability, which means either controlling inflation or stimulating growth. Its primary tool is the raising or lowering of interest rates. Relatively high interest rates – or the expectation of higher rates – will usually benefit the Euro and vice versa. The ECB Governing Council makes monetary policy decisions at meetings held eight times a year. Decisions are made by heads of the Eurozone national banks and six permanent members, including the President of the ECB, Christine Lagarde.

Eurozone inflation data, measured by the Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), is an important econometric for the Euro. If inflation rises more than expected, especially if above the ECB’s 2% target, it obliges the ECB to raise interest rates to bring it back under control. Relatively high interest rates compared to its counterparts will usually benefit the Euro, as it makes the region more attractive as a place for global investors to park their money.

Data releases gauge the health of the economy and can impact on the Euro. Indicators such as GDP, Manufacturing and Services PMIs, employment, and consumer sentiment surveys can all influence the direction of the single currency. A strong economy is good for the Euro. Not only does it attract more foreign investment but it may encourage the ECB to put up interest rates, which will directly strengthen the Euro. Otherwise, if economic data is weak, the Euro is likely to fall. Economic data for the four largest economies in the euro area (Germany, France, Italy and Spain) are especially significant, as they account for 75% of the Eurozone’s economy.

Another significant data release for the Euro is the Trade Balance. This indicator measures the difference between what a country earns from its exports and what it spends on imports over a given period. If a country produces highly sought after exports then its currency will gain in value purely from the extra demand created from foreign buyers seeking to purchase these goods. Therefore, a positive net Trade Balance strengthens a currency and vice versa for a negative balance.

 

Disclaimer: For information purposes only. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
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