Now that Warriors have snagged back their title from Cavaliers, forex traders can now focus on, you know, market-moving events.
And just in time, too! This week we have not one, not two, but FOUR central bank events that might move the major currencies:
FOMC Statement (Wednesday, June 14)
- 6:00 pm GMT: FOMC’s interest rate decision, statement, and economic projections
- 6:30 pm GMT: Yellen’s presser
The Fed surprised markets last month when it shrugged off Uncle Sam’s weak economic growth and employment prospects.
Specifically, the central bank said that Q1 2017’s GDP weakness is “likely to be transitory” and that “labor market conditions will strengthen somewhat further” as “job gains were solid” while the unemployment rate declined.
The Fed’s meeting minutes told another story, however. Though it still nodded to “most participants” thinking it would “soon” be appropriate to raise interest rates, it also cautioned that:
“Members generally judged that it would be prudent to await additional evidence indicating that the recent slowing in the pace of economic activity had been transitory before taking another step in removing accommodation.”
Another bombshell in the meeting minutes was the Fed sharing a “possible operational approach” to reducing its balance sheet, something that wasn’t hinted at in the original statement.
According to May’s meeting minutes, the Fed is considering letting some of its investments mature (instead of reinvesting the money). Since the plan is essentially a form of taking away monetary stimulus, the dollar tumbled a bit against its major counterparts.
This time around every market player and their pets are expecting the Fed to raise its interest rate range by another 25 basis points to 1.00% – 1.25%. This would make it the third time in seven months and the fourth since the last financial crisis.
So, how can the event move the markets if a rate hike is already expected? Here are other factors that you might want to watch out for:
Remember that the Fed is already iffy about its earlier pronouncement that the weakness in Q1 2017’s GDP is transitory. Specifically, members now think that the lower-than-expected consumer spending trends warrant a closer look.
If the Fed chooses to focus on weak consumer spending, mixed employment data, or persistently low inflation, then traders may scale back their expectations of a third rate hike this year.
More balance sheet talk
Since the start of its QE program the Fed has accumulated around $2.5 trillion worth of Treasuries and $1.8 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities. Among others the move helped the government borrow moolah at cheaper rates and encourage investors to put their money on higher-yielding assets.
But now that the economy is doing a bit better, Yellen and her gang think that unwinding some of their purchases is necessary. But we have soooo many questions. When will it start? How fast will it happen? How will it end? And will it affect the Fed’s rate hike schedule?
Last month the Fed emphasized that it plans to hold its balance sheet steady “until normalization of the level of the federal funds rate is well under way.”
But with Uncle Sam’s debt ceiling issue creeping back in the markets and economic growth not heating up as much as the Fed expected, some believe that the Fed won’t fulfill its plans to raise rates for a third time this year.
On the other hand, analysts are pointing out that Yellen will likely want to get the ball rolling before she finishes her term as Fed head honcho in February 2018. For this to happen, the FOMC members will need a framework or a rough plan and they’ll need one soon.
SNB Policy Assessment (Thursday, June 15)
- 7:30 am GMT: LIBOR setting, SNB monetary policy assessment, and Thomas Jordan’s press conference
In its announcement in March the Swiss National Bank (SNB) kept its interest rates at -0.75% while keeping LIBOR between -1.25% to -0.25%.
The central bank also stuck to script, saying that it will “remain active in the foreign exchange market as necessary” and that its policies are intended to “make Swiss franc investments less attractive, thereby easing pressure on the currency.”
Though there was no forward guidance provided and we haven’t heard from the SNB in months, Governor Thomas Jordan did hint that their biases will likely be unchanged this month.
In a speech at a private event in late May, Jordan repeated that “The franc remains significantly overvalued, inflation is still very low, growth is still relatively low and production factors aren’t fully utilized,” adding that “That means we need to continue with our expansive monetary policy.” Duhn duhn duhn.
BOE’s policy decisions (Thursday, June 15)
- 11:00 am GMT: MPC’s official rates and policy summary
- 8:00 pm GMT: BOE Governor Carney to give a speech in London
Right at the heels of the SNB is the Bank of England (BOE), which is also not expected to make any changes to its policies in June.
Recall that in its “Super Thursday” last month, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) members expressed concerns that “wages won’t keep up with prices for goods and services,” at least not while “businesses are hesitating to bring in higher wage costs at a time of some uncertainty about market access and other costs that could be associated with the Brexit process.”
The MPC also made outlook revisions, citing fiscal stimulus and stronger path for global growth for its higher GDP estimates while pegging its inflation forecasts to the “speed and extent to which companies pass through rising external costs to consumer prices.”
And while it lowered its unemployment forecasts, it also warned that unemployment would have to “fall further” before wage growth returns to more normal levels.
But the most important takeaway of the event was the BOE apparently factoring in a “smooth Brexit” in its economic estimates.
When asked what “smooth” meant, Carney qualified that “It means there will be an agreement as to future trading arrangements and there will be a transition or an implementation period to that new agreement.”
Since the only thing that’s “smooth” after the U.K. elections brouhaha is Lord Buckethead’s costume, the BOE will likely make some changes to its tone even as it maintains its policies steady for another month.
Oh, and watch out for Carney’s speech in London, will you? Though it’s not an official function, we might hear a thought or two from the BOE head honcho during the event.
BOJ’s policy statement (Friday, June 16)
In its policy decision in late April, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) kept its interest rates at -0.1%; maintained its 10-year JGB yield target “around zero percent,” and made no changes to the pace of its asset purchases.
And much like with the BOE and the SNB, market players also aren’t expecting fireworks from the BOJ this month.
BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s speeches might have something to do with it. As late as last week the central bank Chief emphasized that “There is still a long way to go until the price stability target of 2 percent is achieved.”
Kuroda pointed to the unsatisfactory performance of the global economy and falling oil prices though he also admitted that Japan’s elderly population might have contributed to the lack of traction for inflation.
The BOJ head honcho also defended its QQE program, saying that it “has produced its intended effects.” This added to speculations that the BOJ is unlikely make changes to its policies this week.