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Inflation front and centre this week as China slips towards deflation

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European markets underwent a shocker of a week last week, posting their biggest declines since March, despite a modest rebound on Friday.

With economic data continuing to look on the soft side and central banks showing little sign of easing up when it comes to interest rate rises there was little to cheer for markets in Europe, with concerns about weakness in the Chinese economy adding to the gloom.

US markets on the other hand, while still finishing the week lower, still managed to perform better after a slightly weaker than expected non-farm payrolls job report, which showed that the US economy added 209k jobs in June, down from 306k in May. There was also a 2-month net revision lower of -110k, taking some of the lustre off recent gains, and removing some of the euphoria around the ADP jobs number of 497k, the day before.

The unemployment rate still fell to 3.6%, while average hourly earnings growth came in unchanged at 4.4%, which was at a slightly higher level than expected.

One thing that we were able to take away from last week was that further rate rises from the Federal Reserve as well as the European Central Bank are almost certain when they both meet in 2 weeks’ time, however there is now rising concern that we may see further rate increases after that in September as well.

The bond market is certainly reflecting the fact that rates are likely to stay higher for longer after the yield curve steepened as 10-year yields outperformed 2-year yields on a week-on-week basis.

With earnings season set to get underway in earnest over the next week or so, there is increasing nervousness that after such a good first half of the year, that the second half of the year is likely to be much more challenging.

What last week’s economic data also tells us is that while the economy in Europe could well be set to contract for the third successive quarter in succession, the US economy appears to be holding up reasonably well

There is a fear however that central banks are on the cusp of a serious policy mistake when it comes to their determination to drive inflation lower. We already know that inflation has been slowing sharply over the last few months, and we also know that PPI inflation in China and Europe is now in negative territory.

This morning we saw that inflation in China slowed even further in June with headline CPI coming in at 0%, and PPI slipping from -4.6% in May to -5.4%

That alone suggests that the rate hikes that have already been implemented over the past 15 months have had an effect, however such is the nature of monetary policy, and the way interest rate markets have changed over the last 20 years, with many more fixed rate loans, there is no way of telling how much more tightening has yet to come through.

This should make central bankers much more cautious, however it seems to be having the opposite effect, causing frustration that inflation isn’t coming down quickly enough, due to resilient consumption patterns.

With US CPI for June set to be released on Wednesday, and PPI on Thursday we are likely to see further evidence of this disinflationary trend, even while wages growth remains resilient.

These are the key macro items for investors to mull over this week ahead of the Federal Reserve later this month, while in the UK tomorrow we have the latest wages and unemployment numbers for the 3-months to May, which are expected to show strong wages growth against a backdrop of a tight labour market.      

EUR/USD – broke higher last week after finding solid support around the 1.0830/40 area. We need to see a move above the June highs at 1.1010/15 to target a move towards 1.1100, and the highs this year. A break below the lows last week opens the way for a potential move towards 1.0780.

GBP/USD – broke above resistance at the 1.2770/80 area putting it on course for a move towards the 1.3000 area, but needs to take the 1.2850 area and June highs first. Support comes in at the 1.2770/80 area, and below that at 1.2680. 

EUR/GBP – continues to find support at the 0.8515/20 area and June lows. Also has resistance at the 0.8570/80 area. We also have resistance at the 50-day SMA which is now at 0.8635. Below 0.8500 targets 0.8460.

USD/JPY – fell below the 144.00 area triggering stops all the way to the 142.00 area, also falling below support at 142.50. Posted a weekly reversal suggesting the top is in and the risk of a return to the 139.80 area. We need to see a move back above 142.80 to stabilise and argue for a return to 144.00.

 

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