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Trade Of The Week: Will USD continue to reign supreme?

USD bills

After dominating the FX space this year, could the dollar’s reign be coming to an end?

The past few weeks have been rough for the greenback thanks to renewed risk sentiment and markets scaling back bets for further aggressive Federal Reserve interest rate increases. Since the start of Q4, the dollar has depreciated against almost every single G10 currency – shedding more than 6% against the Norwegian Krone and 5.7% versus the New Zealand Dollar.

Since hitting a fresh 20-year high above 114.50 back in late September, the Dollar Index (DXY) seems to be respecting a bearish channel, creating fresh lower lows and lower highs. With prices trading below the MACD and approaching the 110.00 support, a breakdown could be on the horizon.

There was a similar move on the equally-weighted dollar index which is wobbling above 1.2400 as of writing.

With the path of least resistance on the technical charts pointing south and the fundamentals slowly swinging in favour of bears as investors trim Fed hike bets, the dollar could end Q4 on a negative note. However, there are a couple of key US economic reports and one more Fed meeting in December which could heavily influence the dollar’s medium to longer-term outlook. On top of this, there is also the US midterm elections on Tuesday 8th of November which could shape the second half of Joe Biden's term as president.

In the meantime, the dollar may be waiting for a fresh fundamental spark…and this could be the US inflation report on Thursday.

The low down…

Last week, king dollar surrendered its gains thanks to the improving market mood and growing expectations around the Federal Reserve delivering smaller rate hikes.

The Fed hiked interest rates by 75bps for the 4th straight time and Jerome Powell sent a clear message to markets about the potential for rates to peak higher than expected. Given how this move poured cold water around a dovish pivot, dollar bulls were injected with renewed confidence.

However, the jobs report for October sent mixed signals about the US labour market. Although the Nonfarm payrolls surged by 261k in October, above market forecasts of 200k – the unemployment rate rose to 3.7%, still close to a 50-year high. The mixed jobs report combined with soft economic data prompted market players to price in smaller rate hikes in the future. According to Bloomberg, traders have priced in a 50bps rate hike in December with the probability of a 75bps move only at 25%.

These reduced rate hike expectations may keep the dollar subdued ahead of the next major risk event. On a technical front, bears are in the building with the equally weighted USD index struggling to keep above 1.2400. A breakdown below this point could trigger a selloff towards 1.2340 in the near term.

Will CPI data revive USD bulls?

The greenback is set to remain shaky ahead of the latest US inflation reading on Thursday.

Markets expect the headline CPI to have increased 8% year-on-year in October, down from 8.2% in September. In regards to Core CPI, which strips out the volatility from food and energy prices, it is expected to remain at a 40-year high of 6.6%. If the US inflation data exceeds market expectations, this may rekindle expectations around the Fed delivering jumbo hikes – resulting in a strong US dollar. Although a scenario where prices begin to slow may weaken the dollar and reduce rate hike expectations, inflation is still well above the Federal Reserve’s safe zone.

Time for dollar to sell off?

The equally weighted dollar index could be preparing to tumble lower if 1.2400 proves to be unreliable support. Prices remain in a bullish channel on the weekly charts but the heavily bearish candle printed last week signals a potential breakdown. Such a development could open the doors back towards 1.2184 and 1.1900, respectively. Should 1.2400 prove to be solid support, prices may rebound back towards 1.2500, 1.2750, and 1.2800, respectively.


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