Yesterday’s closure of the US markets for Thanksgiving caused most FX pairs to trade within very tight ranges. Today, markets will reopen but only for half a day, and should see another fairly low-volatility session today. The general environment in FX remains remained quite supportive for the dollar, as the FOMC minutes and a bunch of good data kept market speculation on faster tapering and earlier tightening alive.
Overnight, news broke about a new Covid variant that appears to have the biggest mutation seen so far. At a very early stage, the evidence seems quite concerning. The variant has been identified primarily in South Africa, and multiple countries are rapidly blocking all flights to the country, as well as other African nations. More information on the variant will be needed, but it looks like it is indeed going to be a very “black” Friday for global risk sentiment.
The loonie weakened overnight with concerns about the new covid variant ravaging the EZ. The CAD remains at the mercy of external factors and sentiment to a large extent at the moment specifically demanding the greenback. While USD demand may serve to keep USD/CAD supported in the short run, fundamental factors including supportive spreads and generally firm commodity prices suggest that the CAD should be able to progress once markets refocus on the supportive domestic developments. In the short term, the USD/CAD would weaken further and test the 1.28.
The Covid crisis in Europe has deepened this week, as rising cases across the continent saw another low-vaccination country – Slovakia – announce a full lockdown. The key question remains whether the highly immunised countries like France, Italy and Spain will manage to weather this virus wave without ultra-strict measures.
We see the euro as still vulnerable due to the Covid situation in Europe which, as highlighted above, is further widening US-EZ rate expectations. Given overnight developments, a major question now is whether the new variant has already reached Europe. This could deal another blow to EZ sentiment and the EUR, which otherwise seems to have marginally benefited from its low-yielding status as the new variant shook markets and may hold above 1.1200 into the weekend.
The UK rapidly imposed restrictions on flights from some African countries yesterday as the new variant started to cause major concerns. Domestically, we’ll hear from the Bank of England’s Chief Economist Huw Pill, who will deliver a speech on the economic outlook. Yesterday, Governor Andrew Bailey claimed that that rate guidance is “hazardous” for central banks, and it seems likely that the Bank is trying to steer away from the kind of misleading communication we saw in the run-up to the November meeting. Most remain of the view that the BoE will hike on 16 December, which should ultimately put a floor under GBP into year-end.