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Old 15-09-2023, 13:26
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KostiaFM KostiaFM is offline
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Default Re: Daily Market Analysis by ForexMart

EUR/USD: The euro falls after hawkish ECB surprise

The European Central Bank surprised market participants by raising interest rates by 25 basis points. We must pay tribute to the ECB it hasn't forgotten how to surprise! Although such unexpected moves, typical of, say, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, are not characteristic of the ECB they indicate a weak level of communication. Some hints of hawkishness were heard from certain representatives of the Bank (for example, Klaas Knot suggested not underestimating the potential for a hawkish scenario), but overall, the market was largely expecting a different outcome. The probability of maintaining the status quo was estimated at around 60-70%, and this confidence was also shaped by cautious/dovish statements from ECB members. Weak PMIs, ZEW, IFO, a contradictory report on inflation growth in the eurozone, weak retail sales, a decline in industrial output, and a slowdown in the Chinese economy all these factors also spoke in favor of a wait-and-see stance. Therefore, the ECB's decision is one that goes "against the grain."

However, the determination (in the current circumstances, it can even be called boldness) of ECB members did not help the single currency. Ironically, the unexpected hawkish surprise from the ECB sent EUR/USD plunging. Reacting to the results of the September meeting, the pair hit nearly a 4-month low, marking it at 1.0650 (the lower Bollinger Bands line on the daily chart).

So, what is the reason for such an anomalous market reaction at first glance? The devil, as always, is in the details. The ECB raised interest rates by 25 bps with one hand but effectively put an end to the current cycle of monetary policy tightening with the other. The central bank signaled that interest rates have "reached a level that will make a substantial contribution to containing inflation." Such wording is difficult to interpret, so EUR/USD traders viewed the ECB's decision as the "final chord" of the current cycle.

Interestingly, ECB President Christine Lagarde tried to soften the message during the final press conference, stating that "it is not possible to definitively say that ECB rates have reached their peak at this time." However, judging by the EUR/USD reaction, market participants have already drawn conclusions about the prospects for further monetary tightening.

It is important to note again that most ECB officials were cautious or dovish in the run-up to the September meeting, pointing out signs of economic slowdown (especially after the release of PMIs), cooling labor markets, slowing inflation (particularly core HICP), and a slowdown in bank lending. Thus, they hinted at the need to maintain the status quo. However, after the September meeting, it became clear that inflation, which is still at a high level, worries ECB officials more than the deteriorating economic outlook.

The latest inflation report reflected the "stubbornness" of European inflation. The Consumer Price Index remained unchanged at 5.3% in August (against expectations of a decline to 5.1%). This gauge has been steadily declining since October 2022, moving from its peak of 10.6% to the current target of 5.3%. However, the downtrend has recently stalled. As for core inflation, the situation is somewhat different. Core HICP, excluding energy and food prices, rose actively until March, reaching 5.7%. Then, the gauge gradually lost momentum but remained within a range: it was at 5.3% in May, 5.5% in June and July, and finally, in August, the index returned to 5.3%.

This report was published two weeks ago on August 31st. Since then, discussions in the expert community about the ECB's future actions have not subsided. After a series of disappointing economic reports (as listed above), hawkish expectations diminished, and the balance tipped in favor of a wait-and-see stance. However, as we can see, the ECB decided to "squeeze" inflation without considering the fragile economic growth in the eurozone.

At the same time, the ECB weakened the euro with its "conclusive" rhetoric. In particular, it was stated that interest rates are already at a level that will be maintained "for a sufficiently long time." According to the ECB, this will significantly contribute to reducing inflation. The central bank hinted that another round of monetary tightening within the current cycle is possible, but such a step would be of an extraordinary nature. This rhetoric did not sit well with the euro, particularly with EUR/USD buyers, resulting in the pair remaining below the 1.06 level.

From a technical perspective, the bears reached the support level at 1.0650, which corresponds to the lower Bollinger Bands line on the daily chart but failed to break through it. Therefore, selling appears risky right now, as you may "catch a price bottom." Short positions should be considered once the pair breaks through 1.0650 (in which case the bearish target will be around 1.0600) or during bullish corrections. In the latter case, the target would be 1.0650.
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