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BoC Likely to Deliver its Last 25bps Hike Today

USD - US Dollar

Yesterday’s PMIs painted a less dramatic picture of the US service sector compared to the latest ISM survey and triggered a positive reaction in the dollar. However, markets quickly sold the USD rally, confirming a rather pronounced bearish bias despite encouraging data. It does appear investors are happily buying the dip in EUR/USD around the 1.0850 handle at the moment, and that could prove to be a short-term floor for the pair. There are no data releases to highlight today and no Fed speakers due to the pre-FOMC blackout period. Markets have cemented their view that next week’s move will be a 25bp hike, but are still reluctant to fully price in another 25bp of tightening: the futures and swap market are embedding a 4.90% peak rate. This signals the perceived balance of risks is tilted to the dovish side ahead of next week’s FOMC. However, a sharper decline in the dollar may not be on the cards until other large event risks (European Central Bank, Bank of England meetings) are past us.

CAD - Canadian Dollar

Once a hawkish stand-out, the Bank of Canada is facing a hike/no-hike dilemma today. Economists’ consensus is leaning more in favor of a 25bp move. Based on recent data trends, a still-tight jobs market is partly offsetting the decline in headline inflation and signs of economic slowdown suggests this is the right time to deliver the last 25bp hike of the cycle. Should the BoC surprise with a hold, there’s a good chance the bank will keep the door open for a move in March, which would match the market’s current pricing, and ultimately fail to hit the Canadian dollar.

A 25bp hike but a strong signal that rates have peaked and growing concerns on the economic outlook could prove to be a more dovish outcome as markets price in more rate cuts in the second half of the year. The impact on CAD may be positive but rather limited in the end. USD/CAD remains on track for a move to 1.30 in the coming months, in our view, but USD weakness should be the primary driver of such a move.

EUR - Euro

A below-consensus reading in German manufacturing was the only flaw in an otherwise convincing set of PMIs in the eurozone yesterday. The eurozone composite PMI index moved back into expansionary territory (i.e. above 50.00) for the first time since June 2022, endorsing the ongoing re-rating of the growth outlook in the region. As mentioned in the USD section, 1.0850 has emerged as a buy-the-dip area in EUR/USD  over the past two sessions. Good data out of the eurozone is likely keeping most investors on the bullish side of the euro for now, and downside risks for EUR/USD appear contained. A test of 1.1000 by the end of the week is looking more likely. Today, the focus will be on the Ifo indices out of Germany. All three gauges (business climate, current assessment, and expectations) are expected to improve. Looking at the ECB pricing ahead of next week's meeting, it now seems very plausible that markets will not question a 50bp hike, although another half-point move in March is not fully priced in (around 80% implied probability). The degree of ECB President Christine Lagarde’s commitment to another 50bp move will be the key driver of the market reaction next week.

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