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Critical Technical and Sentiment Breaks in the Fourth Quarter

Critical Technical and Sentiment Breaks in the Fourth Quarter

John Kicklighter, Chief Strategist

Talking Points:

  • Markets continue to run quiet compared to seasonal trends, but October is historical peak for volume and volatility
  • Technical pictures project breaks of necessity while fundamentals build the pressure behind the supposed 'quiet'
  • Key event risks to watch over 4Q include: the US election; Fed rate hike; GDP updates; earnings; China; Brexit

See what live coverage is scheduled to cover key event risk for the FX and capital markets on the DailyFX Webinar Calendar.

We have closed out one of the quietest quarters on recent record. With each day, week and month that passes between extremely restrained trading and steadily intensifying fundamental pressure; the threat of a destructive resolution grows. With the week, month and quarter coming to a close simultaneously; we can reflect on the exceptional inactivity behind us. The consistent deflation of volatility - both implied and asset-derived - has fueled cynicism about the health and value of standing exposure. The S&P 500's smallest 12-month range in over a decade has raised concern rather than optimism for the next phase. And, there a growing possibility that the end to this period of tranquility happens in the coming three months.

From a technical perspective, we can see the pressure arises from the inordinately long period of inactivity and in many cases the practical consolidation of ranges to terminal points (breaks of necessity). The S&P 500's extraordinarily narrow range is made the more remarkable given it is developing at record highs. However, even those sentiment-motivated assets that aren't perched at extremes of their own are showing similar winded circumstances. Meanwhile, the Dollar has pushed a broad range from 2015 into a terminating wedge with prominent representations of this pattern from pairs like EUR/USD, USD/JPY and AUD/USD. Even parallel patterns like those from GBP/USD pose high risk of break with fundamentals leveraging volatility.

Technicals are giving us the visual manifestation of market conditions. Complacency has replaced confidence. Participation has drained as market participants are willing to hold precariously to their exposure with a strained eye always kept on the the pulse of sentiment. Fundamentals may ultimately prove the undoing of this anxious period. Over the coming three months there are a range of critical events with global influence scheduled to unfold. The US Presidential election, a likely Fed hike, further debasing of monetary policy effectiveness, economic malaise, financial pressures and Chinese financial tensions are just a few of the critical issues that can tip the strained balance currently held. In this weekend Strategy Video we discuss the high probability of breakouts in the coming quarter.

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

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