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While the Fed and ECB sound hawkish, the BoJ continues to remain dovish

While European markets underwent a rather subdued and negative finish yesterday, US markets continued their recent exuberant run, with the S&P500 and Nasdaq 100 both closing higher for the 6th day in a row.

This was a little surprising given that the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank both delivered very hawkish outcomes in the space of 24 hours of each other, as well as painting very cautious outlooks for growth and inflation over the course of the next 12 months.

While the Federal Reserve kept rates unchanged, they upgraded their terminal rate forecast for this year by indicating that they expected to deliver another 2 rate hikes by the end of this year. This was a little surprising even with the fact that the labour market continues to exhibit significant tightness.

This is because a lot of the main inflation indicators, particularly the forward-looking ones, are showing increasing evidence of disinflation. If they are showing these signs now then the signs will be much more evident in the next few weeks, which means that for all the Fed’s jawboning today its highly unlikely they will be able to follow through on it.

Quite simply markets aren’t buying it with US 2-year yields below the levels they were prior to Wednesday’s Fed meeting. In essence the market thinks the Fed is done as far as rate hikes are concerned.  

Yesterday’s economic data also cast doubt on the Fed's forward guidance for rates this year with US import prices for May plunging by -5.9% year on year, close to levels last seen in April 2020. Export prices on the other hand fell even more sharply, falling to a record low of -10.1%

While the ECB did deliver a rate hike, they also revised upwards their core inflation forecasts for this year from 4.6% to 5.1%, which was quite punchy given that core inflation has already fallen back to 5.3% in this month’s flash numbers, down from 5.6% in April, and just below the record high of 5.7% set in March. This core number is expected to be confirmed in data scheduled to be released later this morning.

ECB President Christine Lagarde even went as far as more or less pre-committing to another 25bps rate hike in July, which in turn helped to push European yields sharply higher. They may well be able to deliver on this, however there is room for scepticism when it comes to any rate moves beyond that.

This is because their core inflation expectations for the end of this year come across as way too high. Does anyone at the ECB seriously believe that core prices won’t have fallen below 5% from where they are now by the end of this year, when producer price inflation is already slowing sharply. If they do, they need to have another look at their economic models.

This morning the Bank of Japan delivered their own assessment of the outlook for the Japanese economy, with traders and investors increasingly scratching their heads as to why new Bank of Japan governor Kazuo Ueda seems so reluctant to even consider starting to look at paring back their own easy monetary policy, when core CPI is at 4.1% and the highest level since the 1980’s. The BoJ seems to be of the opinion that current levels of core inflation aren’t sustainable and that prices will fall back towards 3.5%, before accelerating modestly again. 

The central bank is due to update its economic forecasts in July, while Governor Ueda is due to speak in a couple of hours’ time when he might offer further insights as to why the Bank of Japan is reluctant to alter its policy settings quite yet.

EUR/USD – pushed above the 50-day SMA at 1.0880, as well as pushing through 1.0920/30 opening the prospect for a return to the April highs at 1.1095. We now have support back at the 1.0820/30 break out level.

GBP/USD – broken above previous highs this year at 1.2680 and kicked on above the 1.2760 area which is 61.8% retracement of the 1.4250/1.0344 down move. This puts us on course for a move towards the 1.3000 area. We now have support at 1.2630. 

EUR/GBP – continues to hold above the 0.8530/40 area rallying back to the 0.8600 area before slipping back. The key day reversal from earlier this week is just about still valid, however the lack of a rebound is a concern. A break below 0.8530 targets a move towards 0.8350. Resistance at 0.8620.

USD/JPY – pushed up to 141.50 yesterday, before slipping back, with the next resistance at 142.50 which is 61.8% retracement of the 151.95/127.20 down move. Support now comes in at 140.20/30.


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