Last week the markets became increasingly nervous as COVID-19 infections continued to increase exponentially in the UK, the US and across Europe threatening the already fragile recoveries. As nerves increased risk sentiment decreased, the dollar benefited, and Sterling gave back most of its Brexit bonus bounce to end the week just above $1.2900. However, it fared better against the euro and is trading at €1.1075 this morning. With new lockdowns announced on both sides of the Channel, the pressure is increasing on the Brexit negotiating teams and over the weekend there were tentative signs that an agreement on fishing was within reach. In the week ahead, we are expecting the influence of the Brexit negotiations on the currency markets to slip as all eyes focus on tomorrow’s Presidential election in the US. After months of campaigning the outcome is still far from clear although the pollsters are clearly favouring a strong victory for Joe Biden. Whether Donald Trump will accept losing and resist contesting the result is far from certain and the subsequent ructions would unnerve the markets. With the three swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin not even starting to count postal votes till tomorrow and there is a strong possibility that the election result will not be known for some days after polling closes and if contested not for weeks or months. Away from the election, there is quite a week ahead with plenty of central bank activity for the markets to watch out for and what is potentially a tumultuous week will come to a close with the all-important jobs data from the US on Friday. With the likelihood of a very volatile week ahead, we will be working diligently to ensure all your currency needs are looked after.
With last Saturday’s not unexpected announcement of another lockdown in England, the first response to it from the Bank of England will come this Thursday when they have their scheduled meeting. It is probably too soon after the lockdown announcement for them to have prepared a full economic forecast, but it is thought likely that they will increase their asset purchases by another £100bln and the press conference should contain more insights than normal. The markets will also be watching for any further hints on the introduction of negative interest rates in the not too distant future. With lockdown unlikely to end completely after its initial four weeks, sterling will remain vulnerable, however, the recent eerie silence from the Brexit talks and with mounting pressure on both sides, there remains the possibility that good progress is being made. There is not a huge amount on the data docket this week apart from the latest information on the Purchasing Manager’s Indices on Wednesday.
Not for the first time, the euro will be driven by the same set of factors as sterling. With COVID-19 induced lockdowns being reintroduced across much of Europe the advances reported in their economies are already outdated. Last week Christine Lagarde made clear that the ECB will offer more stimulus in December and the only question is how much it will be and what it will look like. We will be looking for clues on their plans on Thursday when several speeches from the ECB members are scheduled. On the data front, in common with the rest of the world, the latest PMI’s are released on Wednesday and Eurozone Retail sales are out on Thursday but with the reintroduction of lockdowns, these figures are sadly already outdated.
There are at least four possible outcomes to tomorrow’s election despite both candidates spending hundreds of millions of dollars on campaigning. The most likely outcome, according to the polls, is a blue wave with Joe Biden winning convincingly, retaining control of the House of Representatives, and gaining control of the Senate. This result would be risk positive and the dollar would drift lower. The second scenario is one where Joe Biden wins but fails to win the Senate and his policies are consequently watered down and as in the first scenario, the dollar would again drift lower. The third scenario is that, against all odds, Donald Trump wins again and with his predilection for geopolitical confrontation risk sentiment becomes increasingly negative forcing the dollar to rise as safe havens are sought. Finally, the worst-case scenario of a contested result which would lead to a sharp drop in risk sentiment and an appreciation of the dollar. As if the election wasn’t enough to occupy the market, we will also be watching for the Federal Reserve is meeting on Thursday and on Friday the, normally, all-important Non-Farm payroll jobs report is released.
The krona ended the month on a positive note and up against all G10 currencies apart from sterling and the yen. We are now entering a period which historically speaking is positive for the krona with tax planning influencing its direction. Readers will remember that krona is a Beta currency which performs well when there is a ‘risk-on’ atmosphere. Thus, the krona may be particularly vulnerable on and around the days of the American election depending on the actual result and how the market reacts. This week kicks off with the Swedbank Manufacturing PMI survey. On Thursday we will watch the Industrial Orders and Service Production data from September followed by the Budget Balance on Friday. Over in Norway, Thursday this week will be particularly important with a Rate Decision from Norges Bank. The market is not anticipating any changes in the monetary policy from Governor Olsen, however, rumours in the financial press keep on hinting that an increase in interest rates and an end to the stimulus package may come sooner than the market is anticipating. On Friday, the Industrial Production figures for September are released.