Lively week before Europe goes on holiday

As Europe begins it summer holiday, there’s been some interesting developments in the markets last week. 

The dollar reigned supreme for most of last week as the markets oscillated between optimism and pessimism as worries over the spread of the delta variant ebbed and flowed. Sterling, as befits a beta G10 currency rode the wave of changing market sentiment, mostly ignoring the mounting number of Covid cases, the ‘pingedemic’ and the escalating disagreements with the EU over the conditions regulating trade in Northern Ireland.

The week’s highlight was the press conference after the monthly European Central Bank meeting, during which Christine Lagarde reiterated the decision of its recent strategic review to target inflation at 2%. Unlike the US and UK, whose primary concern is getting inflation down towards this level, the ECB will most probably have to replace its version of Quantitative Easing the PEPP scheme. The market certainly took this view, and the euro suffered as a result losing ground generally and has opened again this morning below $1.1800

There continue to be some signs of splits in the major central banks between those worried by the threat of inflation and those that see the recent surge as only transitory. Last week the doves won out in the ECB despite the powerful voices of the Belgian and German Central banks raising doubts over the policies that are being adopted. There also appears to be disagreement, judging by their recent speeches, arising in the Bank of England between the openly hawkish members (Michael Saunders and Dave Ramsden) and the markedly dovish (Jonathan Haskel and Ben Broadbent). This week it is the turn of the Federal Reserve to hog centre stage with their monthly Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday. Although it is unlikely that any policy change will be announced, every word in Jerome Powell’s press conference following the meeting will be studied for hints concerning tightening. It is also month-end this week, and with a tsunami of data due from the US, it should be a good week for those that like volatility!


It looks like a quiet week ahead for sterling with no domestic economic data of any importance on the agenda for release and only the Bank of England’s Dr Gertjan Vlieghe slated for a speech. Sterling is again most likely to be buffeted by the dollar’s strength and could be vulnerable to a further dip, especially if the Federal Reserve’s meeting on Wednesday is perceived as more hawkish than anticipated. Despite the apparent slowing of the spread of the delta variant, the effects of the almost total easing of lockdown are still to be fully felt. These worries will keep investors nervous, as will the so-called “pingdemic,” which is starting to affect supply chains, which may cause the economy to suffer slight setbacks. The ongoing issues with the EU over Northern Ireland, which still show no sign of a satisfactory outcome, could also start to become more troublesome to the pound. However, this morning sterling is still trading up near its highest levels of last week at €1.1675.


With most of Europe either on vacation now or preparing to go, there could be more volatility in the single currency in the week ahead than usual due to thin markets and a plentiful amount of macroeconomic data to digest. After the split in the ECB became apparent last week over its policy to target inflation at 2% for years ahead, the publication of the flash July Consumer Price Index on the last Friday before August will be studied with interest. However, even if it is above the ECB target, it is almost certainly a transitory number and will be quickly discounted. Of more interest will be the second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP), also released on Friday, which is expected to show that the Eurozone has technically exited from recession. The flow of data starts later this morning with the July German Ifo Business Climate survey. Next up is the GfK German Consumer Confidence survey on Wednesday and the Eurozone confidence surveys for July on Thursday. Thursday also sees the release of German Unemployment figures and Consumer Prices.


As always, the US is likely to dominate the show in the upcoming week, with Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee and two major data releases. The Fed is exceedingly unlikely to signal any immediate tightening, with analysts generally agreeing that the Jackson Hole Symposium in late August is the most likely backdrop for any tapering to be announced. However, with the US, so far at least, not suffering as badly as the rest of the world from the Delta Variant and with most inflation-related data firmly in the red zone, the tone of Jerome Powell’s press conference is likely to encourage thoughts of tapering sooner rather than later. Ahead of the FOMC, we have the release of New Home Sales later today to study and then Durable Goods Orders and Consumer Confidence tomorrow. Then following the FOMC on Wednesday, Second Quarter Gross Domestic Product and the weekly Jobless data are reported on Thursday. GDP could prove to be a psychological turning point if, as predicted, it is above 9.5%. At or above this level, it would signal a return of all the output lost to the pandemic. Finally, the month closes with one of the Fed’s chosen inflation measures, Personal Consumption Expenditure, on Friday. All of which should make for a lively month end!


The Swedish krona was once again very much rangebound against most G10 currencies as the majority of Swedes were enjoying their summer holidays. This week is expected to be a quiet one, with most people returning to the cities and work the first week of August. Thursday is somewhat of a super-day with Consumer & Manufacturing Confidence surveys being released alongside the latest GDP figures and the unemployment rate. The latter is expected to sit uncomfortably high at 9.8%.

Over in Norway, the summer lull has the currency as well as the country in its grip. This week we will pay extra attention to the Unemployment figure out on Friday. It is expected to come in at 2.9%.

All eyes on Europe for the week ahead

All eyes focus on Europe this week, as summer holidays begin.

European Markets

The currency markets had a quiet time last week, which is hardly surprising as we approach the peak summer holiday period. Ranges continue to get narrower, and volumes continue to decline. There were, however, some interesting developments, not least from the Bank of England.

After both the Royal Bank of New Zealand and the Bank of Canada took a more hawkish stance, the bank of England somewhat surprisingly also moved further in that direction. The BoE’s Michel Saunders and Sir Dave Ramsden, typically seen as doves, made speeches referencing the need to tighten policy by curtailing asset purchases soon, making the next Bank of England meeting in a little over three weeks more interesting than it may have been expected to be.

However, in his testimonies to Congress, Jerome Powell remained cautious and seemed to have the return to near full employment uppermost in his mind.

With most of the remaining pandemic restrictions in England are lifted today, Prime Minster Boris Johnson, who is isolating, as is Rishi Sunak, urged the public to “please be cautious”. Most supermarkets and London Underground are maintaining a requirement to wear masks that should help ally some fears, but hospitalisations will be closely watched. In common with the UK, Europe faces a rapid growth in case numbers, and the main event this week, the monthly European Central Bank will be held against this backdrop. There is little chance of any policy change, and with the European recovery lagging behind the US and the UK, the euro will remain vulnerable as both the US and the UK start looking to tighten policy.


Over the weekend, investor’s concerns over the relaxation of Covid restrictions and rising cases numbers have grown. These worries are capping sterling at the moment, and it has opened around €1.1650. As in recent weeks, the rate of hospitalisations, more than the case count, will be watched for any marked upswing. However, with a reported 500,000 people “pinged,” some concerns are starting to grow over the impact of this on the economy, and these worries may weigh on sterling in particular against the dollar. Apart from Covid reports, there is little on the data docket to concern sterling this week.

The only significant figures arrive on Friday when the GfK Consumer Confidence survey, Markit’s Purchasing Manager Indexes, and Retail Sales are released. This morning the BoE’s Jonathan Haskel is giving a speech, and on Thursday, Jim Broadbent will follow suit, and after last week’s hawkish statements, we will be listening to see if they continue with the same rhetoric. If they do so, it will signal that the Old Lady has altered course, and that would encourage some buyers back into sterling.


It is the European Central Bank’s (ECB) turn to take centre stage this week, with its monthly meeting taking place on Thursday. With Covid cases on an upward trajectory again in Europe and with much of the continent still lagging behind the US and the UK in vaccination levels, the euro will stay under pressure as its economic recovery starts to look even more fragile. Despite these worries in the background, the ECB is expected to adopt a slightly more hawkish stance. This data flow begins later this morning with European Construction reports and the monthly report from the Deutsche Bundesbank. Then there is a lull till the ECB meeting on Thursday, followed by the customary press conference from Christine Lagarde. On Friday, Markit will release its Purchasing Managers Indexes for the Eurozone and its constituent countries.


For the first time in a few weeks, the Fed will take a step back this week with no speakers scheduled as they enter the blackout period before the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting. With little on the data front to occupy traders, they will continue to digest the overridingly cautious tone that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell took last week over the threat of inflation. Increasingly the markets are split over whether the Fed is being too slow to react or is right to be cautious. Economists fear that if the Fed tightens too quickly, the economy may tip back into recession. Admittedly, there are worrying signs that this may be happening, and yields in the US Bond market, which many currencies traders follow intensely, are starting to reflect this.

The uncertainty surrounding the recovery looks set to continue, but it could be a quiet week as there is little to disturb the summer doldrums that the markets find themselves in. The data week starts with the release of the NAHB Housing Market Index today and tomorrow, June’s Housing Starts and Permits. On Thursday, the weekly Jobless total is released, and we close the week with the Markit Purchasing Manager’s Indexes.


The Swedish krona lost ground last week as the inflation figure came in lower than expected on a Year-On-Year basis. It is trading at the higher end of the narrow range against the euro and sterling, but this is nothing unusual as July is usually a krona negative month. This week is very quiet from a data perspective, with only the Producer Price Index on Thursday carrying any importance.

Some speculation in the financial press about the Norwegian krone and the forthcoming rate hike was the only interesting piece of information last week. This week is looking relatively uneventful with no significant data releases.

Will Sterling deliver again?

We ask is Sterling going to deliver again? After a week that saw consistent buying of the dollar, encouraged by mid-week rebalancing needs, there was a bout of profit-taking on Friday despite the US Labor Department’s employment data strength.

A headline figure of 850,000, although towards the higher end of the forecasts, didn’t lead to further buying of the dollar, although it still managed to end the week almost a cent higher against sterling. It is becoming apparent that COVID has changed not only the jobs available but, as significantly, people’s attitudes towards work, with many permanently leaving the workforce or taking early retirement. With a shrinking pool of available labour and growing demand, wages are likely to start edging higher. As they do, the calls for the Fed to tighten sooner than expected will increase, and the dollar will continue to find favour.

The week ahead is much quieter on the data front, but there are potentially some interesting reports to study as well as an England performance to savour (we hope!). With the so-called sausage wars apparently, fizzling out, attention is now likely to turn to the increasing number of cases of the Delta variant of COVID in the UK and Europe. With, so far, hospitalisations in the UK falling far below the previous levels, the impact is likely to limited to the psychological damage that rising case numbers can cause. Across the Atlantic, we have a holiday-shortened week with the US closed today for Independence Day, which for many signals the start of the holiday season; consequently, volumes may be lighter than usual, which tends to exaggerate moves.


Sterling has opened a little firmer at $1.382 against the dollar this morning and is little changed against the euro at €1.1650. Overall, it is still performing relatively well in comparison to its G10 counterparts. This strength is partly down to the market’s expectation that it will follow the Federal Reserve’s policies quite closely when the time comes to tighten. With COVID cases rising across the UK, analysts are starting to question how much the public’s confidence will be impacted. If the growing hesitancy to return to everyday life continues to increase, economic recovery may stall, which would destabilise sterling. We have a barren week report-wise until what will undoubtedly be dubbed frantic Friday when May GDP data, Industrial Production, and Manufacturing Production are all released. After last week’s adverse reaction to his Mansion House speech, any further comments from Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey will be studied for their dovishness.


Another quiet week is in prospect on the European data front, leaving the euro at the mercy of the dollar. After it shed over a cent in a week, it still looks a little vulnerable; however, it is opening a little better at $1.1855. Concerns over the rise in cases of the Delta variant of COVID on the continent are starting to mount. If the numbers continue to increase, this will lead to further pressure on the euro. Whilst making good progress, Europe is still behind on its vaccination programme, making its economies more vulnerable to the rapid spread of this variant. Today, the data week kicks off with the Sentex Investor confidence surveys for the Eurozone and Markit Services Purchasing Managers Indexes. Tomorrow, we have further investor confidence reports with the release of the ZEW Surveys for both Germany and Europe. Eurozone Retail Sales data is also scheduled for tomorrow. We expect an upgrading in growth prospects on Wednesday when the European Commission’s summer forecast is released, as is German Industrial Production. There is also a special meeting of the ECB starting over supper tomorrow evening to discuss strategy and possibly set a new inflation target.


After recent comments from Federal Reserve’s Christopher Waller and Robert Kaplan, the dollar will continue to appreciate if the economic data continues to show strong growth. After last week’s excitement over employment, we return to a less exciting calendar. First up, Job Openings and Labour Turnover statistics (JOLTS) are released tomorrow, which will be studied for further clues to how the labour market is adapting to the post-COVID world and the frequency that people are swapping jobs. Some analysts think that these changes will add to the upward pressure on wages which is yet to happen. The ISM Services Purchasing Managers Indexes are also published tomorrow. On Wednesday, we have the release of the minutes from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting, which will be dissected for further clues to how strong the hawkish tendency is and who it includes. Finally, as usual on a Thursday, the latest weekly jobless total will be announced and studied to see if the reduction in benefits is continuing to encourage people back to work.


The Swedish krona was very much rangebound despite prime minister Löfven inviting the opposition to try to form a government after losing a motion of no confidence. So far, they have been unsuccessful, and a new election is unlikely to be called by the incumbent. We have now officially entered what is usually a calm period for the Nordic region’s largest economy. This week kicks off with the PMI Services figures, the Budget Balance on Wednesday, followed by the Industrial Orders and Production, Gross Domestic Product, and the latest Household consumption data. Thursday will see the anticipated Swedish Housing Data being released.

The Norwegian krone has been lacklustre lately, and with the summer holiday now in full swing, most market participants expect it to be somewhat rangebound for the next few weeks. This week we will get the industrial production figures out on Wednesday and the latest GDP figure.

Denmark gets a mention this week as it is the last Nordic country left in the Euro2020 championship and is playing against England in the semi-finals on Wednesday. Despite this rather spectacular achievement (and inevitable increase of Carlsberg sales), no market participant expects this feat to impact the current EURDKK peg nor levels.