Preview for October ECB Meeting and Outlook for EUR-crosses
- No change in rates expected today, but it is widely anticipated that the ECB will announce a taper to its QE program.
- ECB President Draghi's press conference and the details he reveals with respect to the taper will fully determine which way the Euro trades.
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Even though the ECB’s policy meeting today won’t produce new staff economic projections (SEPs), which has typically been a precursor for a change in interest rates, market consensus calls for a taper to the European Central Bank’s QE program.
Likewise, given that no rate move is expected today, all attention will be on the press conference held by ECB President Mario Draghi, where he will reveal the specific details of how the ECB will exactly its taper its QE program. Just like the Federal Reserve, it is highly likely that the ECB doesn't raise rates while it is still conducting its QE program. Concurrently, the ECB will probably make clear that it won't be in a hurry to raise rates as long as inflation undershoots its +2% medium-term target.
Currently pacing at €60 billion/month through the end of 2017, the QE program will hit a technical limitation with German Bunds at the end of Q1’18 or the start of Q2’18 were it to continue at its current pace. Thus, if the ECB wants to continue to provide stimulus to the Euro-area (and not have to change the guidelines under which it operates), it needs to scale down the pace of asset purchases.
Market consensus has coalesced around expecting the program to be cut down to €30 billion/month and extended by another six months to June 2018. The language around this implementation will be especially important: it would be considered hawkish if ECB President Draghi described the end date of the next extension as a 'hard deadline,' or when asset purchases dropped to zero; it would be considered dovish if the end date of the next extension was a 'soft deadline,' or when asset purchases were tapered and extended once more.
Needless to say, expect a fair share of volatility in the EUR-crosses, more so than what’s been experienced in October thus far. Bullish outcomes favor EUR/CHF and EUR/JPY; bearish outcomes favor EUR/USD.
--- Written by Christopher Vecchio, CFA, Senior Currency Strategist
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