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3 Surprise FX Market Drivers

3 Surprise FX Market Drivers

Kathy Lien, Technical Strategist

A “shockingly large” shortfall in US GDP data, political changes in Australia, and some candid and cautious statements from ECB President Draghi are among the top stories driving FX price action.

Today’s mixed performance of the US dollar (USD) is a sign of exhaustion in the FX market. The commodity currencies, which have seen the greatest losses in recent weeks, are rebounding, while the currencies whose losses were more limited (the euro (EUR), British pound (GBP), and Swiss franc (CHF)) have extended their slides.

In other words, European currencies are under pressure while the Australian (AUD), New Zealand (NZD), and Canadian (CAD) dollars are enjoying a collective relief rally. The USDJPY, on the other hand, is unchanged for the fourth consecutive trading day, holding below the 50-day simple moving average (SMA) at 99.40.

The shockingly large downward revision to US first-quarter GDP growth put further pressure on the greenback. The US economy was initially estimated to have grown by 2.4% in the first three months of the year, but due to a 0.8% overestimation of personal consumption, which printed at 2.6% compared to an initial estimate of 3.4%, Q1 GDP growth was revised down to 1.8%.

While GDP numbers are very backwards looking, this revision is large enough to raise concerns that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is looking to reduce asset purchases prematurely. Given how Bernanke and the Fed have looked beyond the increase in the unemployment rate in May, many feel that the Fed will also downplay the reduction in GDP estimates and move forward with its plans to taper this year.

Today’s Biggest Overseas Developments

All of the action in the FX market was in Europe and especially Asia, where another 20-basis-point (bp) decline in the overnight SHIBOR rate eased tensions and uncertainty. Having hit a high of 13.44% last week, overnight lending rates in China have since fallen from the stratosphere down to a more reasonable level of 5.55%.

This decline eased concerns for those holding AUD and NZD, and demand was further supported by the leadership change in Australia. There, the country's first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was ousted by Kevin Rudd, the man she once replaced in a closed-door Labor Party vote. Gillard will now formally ask the Australian governor general to make Rudd Prime Minister.

While the markets have received Rudd's nomination positively, the overall impact on the Aussie economy should be limited because the Labor Party is languishing significantly in the polls ahead of the September general elections. Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan has also stepped down and will be replaced by Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.

Meanwhile, a report in the Financial Times warned that Italy could suffer billions of euros in losses from derivative contracts restructured during the sovereign debt crisis. The news put the euro under pressure, and the single currency is also trading lower due to some cautionary comments from European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi.

See related: Concerning Words from ECB President Draghi

Having broken below the pivotal 1.3060-1.3065 support level, the EURUSD is now headed for 1.30 and could drop to its next support level at 1.2940, which is the second standard deviation Bollinger Band.

By Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management

DailyFX provides forex news and technical analysis on the trends that influence the global currency markets.