Last week sentiment in markets was rather positive, with economic data showing signs of stabilization. The minutes of the last meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday encouraged positive sentiment, when members were positive on the economic outlook and their position was to not rush with further interest cuts. Lighter-than-expected attitude has fueled appreciation of the U.S. dollar in the hope that the interest rates difference will remain higher than previously thought.
Economic data in the world's largest economy was mixed. The preliminary manufacturing PMI index increased from 51.3 to 52.2, indicating that sentiment among mid-size manufacturing companies has been improving in recent months. Existing home sales reached 5.46 million per year, the best result in recent years. The number of new unemployed applications was stable at 227,000, but this is the highest level since early summer. It is important to keep an eye on this figure as its growth would signal further weakening of the industrial sector and the resulting workforce optimization and layoffs.
The main currency pair EUR/USD reflected the sentiment of U.S. dollar. At a news conference on Friday, new head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, identified uncertainty about future prospects as a key issue in the global economy. In order to counter its effects in Europe, it mentioned efforts to extend existing stimulus measures to include fiscal policies and increase public spending. Economic data in Europe was mixed. Preliminary manufacturing PMI in Europe and Germany showed positive changes and slightly lower contraction, reaching 46.6 and 43.8 points respectively. Investors, however, were disappointed with the performance of the services PMI index, where both Europe and Germany indicated slowing growth. EUR/USD depreciated -0.3% during the week.
The leading Asian pair USD/JPY has consolidated at 108.5 points. Calm sentiment in the pair reflected fairly stable risk appetites in the global economy and financial markets as investors wait for new signs between economic indicators or policy decisions. Among the economic indicators were Japanese export volumes, which dropped -9.2% over the year, which was the worst result since the end of 2016. The preliminary manufacturing PMI was at 48.6 points and, although stable compared to the previous month, remained in negative territory. Inflation decelerated to 0.2% and moved further away from central bank expectations. USD/JPY has ended the trading week depreciating -0.1%.
The British pound depreciated as economic data was worse than expected, although the data was scarce. The pound depreciated the most on Friday with the release of the preliminary manufacturing PMI, which dropped from 49.6 points to 48.3 points. Interestingly, the service sector index also fell to a negative range from 50.0 to 48.6 points, although previously services tended to resist the negative trend. GBP/USD has ended the week depreciating -0.6%.
This week will start off quietly and only the German Ifo Business Climate Index will be watched on Monday. On Tuesday, U.S. Consumer Confidence Index and how consumers view future prospects will be the focus of attention, especially in the wake of growing industry anxiety. On Wednesday, investors will be tracking the number of U.S. long-term commodity orders that reflect the business investment need. Thursday will be calm, while European inflation data, German labor market results and retail sales are planned for Friday.
According to Admiral Markes market sentiment data, EUR/USD long positions are held by 63% of investors (increased +12 percentage points compared to last week's data). In the main Asian pair USD/JPY 49% of investors hold long positions (increased +9 percentage points). In GBP/USD pair 24% of participants expect growth (dropped -32 percentage points). This kind of market data is interpreted as contraindicative, therefore appreciation is likely in USD/JPY and GBP/USD pairs and depreciation is expected in EUR/USD. Analysis of positioning data should always be accompanied with fundamental projections and technical analysis
Sources: bloomberg.com, reuters.com, Admiral Markets MT4 Supreme Edition, investing.com
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