Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Daily Forex Brief London: Tuesday 15th May 2012

Yet another bad hair day for risk assets yesterday amidst continuing concerns over a myriad of issues, including the unstable political situation in Greece and ongoing question marks around whether it will remain in the eurozone, the dire state of Spanish banking and sovereign finances, and a sense that the losses registered by the CIO unit at JPMorgan could turn out to be much greater than already disclosed. Also contributing to the uncertain mood was Moody's announcement that it was downgrading 26 Italian banks and worries over whether Greece will pay the holders of a EUR 436m floating rate note which matures today. Gold, a traditional safe-haven in times of distress, has lost its lustre, falling to its lowest level for the year at USD 1.550 an ounce (more on gold below). Instead, it is the greenback that is the preferred destination of those fleeing risk, with the dollar index already up by 2% so far this month. For the dollar bulls, should we see a sustained break of the mid-January high of 81.50 (in the dollar index) then this would provide further encouragement. Indeed, it could justifiably be argued that, against the backdrop of dreadful financial and economic conditions in large parts of Europe, and with China in the midst of a very bumpy landing, the dollar really ought to be performing better than it has done. Another currency that continues to attract buying interest is the pound, with cable steadfast at around the 1.61 level and EUR/GBP now comfortably under 0.80. The single currency fell to 1.2815 overnight, but it has been a remarkably measured sell-off rather than blind panic. Even for the Aussie, which has been under sustained fire all month, the decline through parity was not one of capitulation, notwithstanding the evident determination over recent weeks of traders to eliminate their long positions.

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