USD: Role of Fed hikes reduced to providing a buffer for the $, not a driver When the FOMC meet this week (Wed), there’s no doubt that the case for a rate hike will be less compelling than it was back in March. Economic data, especially short-term inflation dynamics, have been unnervingly soft and one could argue that this should keep a data-dependent Fed sidelined until things pick-up. Most FOMC members, however, have been quick out of the blocks to dismiss this soft patch as nothing more than a transitory phase. Still to us, this week’s move looks like an opportunistic rate hike if anything, making use of the fairly benign market conditions to take another step away from the zero-lower bound. Not everyone in the FOMC may agree, so watch out for dissenters (Kashkari, possibly Brainard). As for the economic projections, well there’s an outside chance that the growth and inflation profile could be tinkered lower – the extent to which will be telling of just how transitory some members see the current slowdown. We see downside risks to the Fed’s dot projections as well, although it’s more likely that we’ll see a more positive skew rather than any wholesale changes to the median dots. We think the Fed have been somewhat clever in constructing a dot plot that serves to fit in either a world of Trump ‘reflation’ or the status quo of secular ‘lowflation’. A hike this week means that we’ll move one step closer towards the start of the Fed’s balance sheet reduction. We’re likely to see the normalisation principles updated, though overall we don’t expect to see any surprises that could lift the $.
EUR: Quiet EZ week allows focus to shift to central bank events elsewhere In the EZ, we expect a relatively calm week following the June ECB meeting; the German ZEW index (Tue) should pick up. EUR/$ neutral around 1.12 this week.
GBP: Short-term political woes could see GBP/USD decline towards 1.25 The dust is beginning to settle following another UK election rollercoaster. Still, there remain many domestic political – as well as Brexit policy – unknowns that will continue to hangover the pound over the coming weeks: Domestic political risk premium: Theresa May has unequivocally stated her intention to stay on as Prime Minister and while there may be some underlying unrest within the Conservative Party, it seems that a leadership contest at this stage remains highly unlikely – especially as it would see another election that could risk handing the keys to Downing Street over to Jeremy Corbyn. On that note, the Labour leader hasn’t given up on forming a minority government and putting forward an alternative Queen’s speech – but again this seems unlikely. Still, we note that any confidence and supply arrangement between the Tories and DUP would be a less stable form of government than the 2010 coalition. It would risk slowing down the legislative process on key policy areas – not least the Budget and Brexit. Political uncertainty remains a headwind for GBP. ‘Hard’ Brexit risk premium: Brexit negotiations are set to begin shortly and the UK’s position remains up in the air. Calls for a ‘softer’ Brexit seem pre-mature, especially as Labour have signalled their intent to leave the single market. What we do see, however, is an economically rational Brexit – with the dial shifting towards obtaining a deal that is in best interests of the UK’s long-run economic prospects. This would be a net positive for a undervalued GBP.