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Market Briefing: Dollar Weakens as Markets Turn Wary

Markets seem to have remembered the most fundamental rule in finance this morning: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. The dollar is falling and yields are coming under pressure as traders turn slightly more sceptical on the underlying details and near-term sustainability associated with Friday’s astonishingly-strong jobs numbers, with growth seen decelerating and employment rates expected to soften in coming months.

Policy expectations are falling. Implied odds on a 75 basis point move at the Federal Reserve’s September meeting are holding near 68 percent, up from 40 percent prior to the release, but down relative to Friday’s peak. Talk of an intra-meeting move has diminished.

The euro is up and bond yields are stable even after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its outlook on Italy’s sovereign debt. Analysts at the ratings agency cited higher energy prices and growing political instability as factors that could weaken the country’s fiscal position in the near term. Losing investment-grade status could force widespread selling by institutional investors.

China again reported the biggest trade surplus in history, hitting $101.26 billion in July. Numbers released by the National Bureau of Statistics on the weekend showed exports rising 18 percent from a year earlier, while imports inched 2.3 percent higher. On a year-to-date basis, the country’s surplus is 57 percent higher than last year’s — already terribly-imbalanced — number. Capital flight is accelerating as household spending weakens and elites garner an ever-larger share of national income.

The Canadian dollar remains sharply weaker as oil prices continue to slump and interest differentials turn negative. West Texas Intermediate fell another 1.5 percent over the weekend to trade below $88 a barrel as we went to pixels, and government bonds at both the 2- and 10-year maturities are yielding less than their American equivalents. The Canadian economy is deeply leveraged to the energy sector and housing markets, both of which are vulnerable to weaker global demand growth and tighter financial conditions.

There are no major data releases scheduled for today.

Wednesday’s inflation number could have unpredictable consequences. Markets generally expect year-over-year headline price growth to slow from June’s 9.1 percent, with drops in gasoline, shipping, and producer inputs helping to reduce pressure in many tangible goods categories. But the core measure — more heavily influenced by rising wages in the services sector — could surprise to the upside, keeping Fed tightening expectations elevated, and eliminating any remaining bets on an early-2023 “pivot” in policy. Traders are likely to reduce directional position-taking in already-illiquid markets ahead of the release.

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Higher for (even) longer