Early year market optimism disappears very quickly - Business Works
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Early year market optimism disappears very quickly

Richard Driver of Caxton FX T here were signs of a rally in confidence and risk appetite in the initial sessions of 2012, but sentiment quickly deteriorated due to all the familiar eurozone-related concerns. Poor demand at eurozone bond auctions (including that of Germany, much to the market’s concern) and widening yield spreads saw the euro resume its downtrend almost across the board. Linked to this are ongoing concerns of blanket downgrades throughout the eurozone when Standard & Poor’s decides to take action. There are plenty of bond auctions this week to keep the euro under pressure; Greece will look to the market on Tuesday, while Italy and Spain will do so on Thursday.

Also in the headlines in recent sessions has been the worsening economic picture in the eurozone. EU leaders finally appear to be willing to address the issue of eurozone growth. The debt crisis is having such an impact on confidence that the region is spiralling into recession and EU leaders have earmarked the 30 January 2012 meeting as an opportunity to look at eurozone growth and the region’s soaring unemployment levels (10.3% for the eurozone).

Figures last week revealed a eurozone services sector contraction, as well as negative monthly growth in both German and eurozone retail sales. Forward looking data such as German factory and eurozone industrial orders also undershot expectations last week. It seems businesses on the continent are preparing for the worst and sitting on their capital. With the lack of leadership we have seen on the debt issue, it is difficult to question why.

Merkel and Sarkozy’s meeting produced little of real note; they remain committed to the progress made on introducing greater budgetary discipline in the eurozone and continue to urge Greece to reach an agreement with private bondholders on haircuts before the country is given its 2nd bailout.

The ECB will have its monthly meeting and press conference on Thursday, which will surely overshadow the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting. We think there is a greater chance of another ECB rate cut than the market is currently appreciating. Eurozone data is only going one way and with inflation also beginning to ease, Draghi could well pull the trigger for the third consecutive month. That said, we are still betting that the ECB will keep its powder dry for this month, though another cut in Q1 is almost a dead cert.

UK growth takes a more positive turn, but for how long?

Last week’s monthly set of UK growth data take a turn for the better, with each of the services, manufacturing and construction sector figures beating expectations. The services sector was particularly impressive in December, possibly due to the unusually mild weather we have seen.

The outlook for the UK recovery remains highly uncertain and risks are firmly fixed to the downside. Sterling should benefit nonetheless, with hopes being raised that the Bank of England may be convinced that further quantitative easing may not be necessary after all. High demand for UK debt continues to support the pound; gilts were the top performing government bond for 2011 and are starting 2012 where they spent the last.

End of week forecast
GBP / EUR 1.2150
GBP / USD 1.54
EUR / USD 1.27
GBP / AUD 1.52

Sterling is trading up at a sixteen month high of 1.21 against the euro and the outlook is looking very strong for GBP / EUR. Less so against the dollar, the US recovery is gathering pace at an impressive rate, which is only adding to the safe-haven appeal of the greenback. GBP / USD is trading down at a four month low of $1.54.

Richard Driver is a Currency Market Analyst with Caxton FX and can be contacted via: www.caxtonfx.com

This brief is prepared by Caxton FX Ltd for information purposes only and may contain personal views that are not the opinion of the company. This is not an offer to purchase or sell any security or an investment advertisement. Caxton FX Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, although foreign exchange transactions with Caxton FX are regulated by HM Revenue and Customs. This email does not constitute advice for any foreign exchange transaction, nor is it intended as a solicitation for funds or recommendation to trade.

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