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Ukraine Tensions Continue to Simmer

USD - US Dollar

The dollar started the week on a strong footing, thanks to a combination of geopolitical events triggering risk aversion and rising speculation on a 50bp Federal Reserve rate hike in March. 

On the first theme – geopolitics – markets will follow very closely today’s meeting between German Chancellor Scholz and Russian President Putin, largely seen as one last chance for the West to mediate a diplomatic solution. There is a considerable amount of risk for G20 currencies, and in particular, the European ones, should tensions escalate further. Oil’s rally can offer some shield to loonie for the short term.  

On the second theme – Fed rate expectations – today’s FOMC minutes from the January meeting will shed some light on how much consensus there was about imminent rate hikes. Yesterday, James Bullard reiterated he’s backing aggressive tightening before the summer. 

CAD - Canadian Dollar

The CAD is underperforming but holding up relatively well against its commodity peers as markets continue to remain concerned about rising tensions in Ukraine. Firm energy prices provide some offset to elevated volatility and weaker stocks but the CAD is clearly at some risk of trading more in line with the weaker risk tone in the short run. On the domestic front, the Ambassador Bridge blockade has re-opened while the domestic data calendar picks up this week with Wednesday’s release of Retail Sales and CPI data. BoC DG lane also speaks Wednesday. 

EUR - Euro

EUR/USD seems to have found a floor at 1.1300, which is a level that prices in some geopolitical risk but still benefits from bets around European Central Bank tightening this summer. Unless the Ukrainian situation deteriorates, a decisive break below 1.1300 likely requires some re-pricing of ECB rate expectations. Today, we’ll hear from ECB member François Villeroy, while the data calendar includes the German ZEW index and the second read of eurozone 4Q GDP. 

GBP - British Pound

The pound has shown some resilience despite USD appreciation, with GBP finding support at 1.3500. The positive narrative of imminent Bank of England tightening is limiting the downside for the pound despite the adverse risk environment. This morning’s jobs data for January continued to reinforce tightening prospects, as the jobless rate held at 4.1% while average weekly earnings accelerated in December. 

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