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Market Briefing: Dollar Keeps Winning Reverse Beauty Contest

The dollar is continuing its untrammelled rise this morning, crushing its developed- and emerging-market peers alike as the US reprises its role as a rock in a sea of economic troubles. As Europe faces an energy shock, China slows, and falling commodity prices weigh on emerging market growth prospects, the American economy – with its voracious consumers, incredibly profitable corporate sector, and aggressively hawkish central bank – is drawing financial flows from the rest of the world, further widening performance gaps.

The yen is trading near new post-1998 lows, ignoring fresh intervention warnings from the government. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno noted his concerns about “recent abrupt, one-sided currency movements”, saying “The government will continue to watch forex market moves with a high sense of urgency and take necessary responses if this sort of move continues”. At the same time, the Bank of Japan doubled down on the yield control efforts that have hammered the exchange rate, saying it would increase bond purchases in an effort to keep 10-year bond yields below 0.25 percent. The currency is on track for an astonishing 20 percent drop this year.

Chinese exports weakened by more than expected in August, with power disruptions, coronavirus lockdowns and falling global demand contributing to the slowdown. Data released by the General Administration of Customs last night showed shipments climbed to $314.9 billion in the month – up 7.1 percent from a year ago, marking the weakest gain since April, and coming in well below investor expectations.

The yuan continues to fall against the dollar, with both onshore and offshore exchange rates plunging well below the fixing levels set by the central bank. Although efforts to slow-walk the decline are probable, traders increasingly see the currency as likely to breach the 7 mark, with editorials in a number of official media outlets suggesting that no “line in the sand” has been established ahead of the September party congress.

The pound is reversing yesterday’s gains, with yields tumbling after the Bank of England’s chief economist said an energy support package from incoming Prime Minister Liz Truss’s government could lower inflation – reducing the need for higher rates. In Parliamentary testimony, Huw Pill said the proposed measures could lift prices and economic activity in the short run by supporting consumer demand, but would ultimately help limit inflationary pressures through the expectations channel.

Market odds on a 75 basis point hike at tomorrow’s European Central Bank meeting are at coin-toss levels, keeping the euro restrained well below parity against the dollar. Implied volatility levels remain starkly elevated, suggesting investors are preparing for big moves around the decision itself.

The US trade deficit likely shrank in July, coming down to $70 billion from $79.2 billion in June as consumer spending on tangible goods began to slow and commodity flows were partially netted out.

Most economists expect the Bank of Canada to deliver a 75 basis point hike this morning, but the loonie is unlikely to gain much respite. In the accompanying statement, policymakers could acknowledge signs of economic deceleration – even as they signal more tightening to come, with rates poised to rise further into restrictive territory through the autumn months. With no press conference or Monetary Policy Report accompanying the decision, traders will quickly pivot toward tomorrow’s speech from Deputy Governor Carolyn Rogers, in which she is expected to outline the Bank’s thinking in greater detail.

Karl Schamotta, Chief Market Strategist

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