The final countdown

December 14, 2015

This is the last full trading week of the year and in many ways, the most anticipated, given that the US FOMC is widely expected to increase interest rates for the first time since June 2006. It’s not a done deal, with markets pricing in around a 75% probability of a move. There are no major hurdles on the data front likely to impact that between now and Wednesday evening and the focus will fall more onto the message from the accompanying statement. That could have more influence on the way FX markets settle at the end of the week rather than the decision itself. Over the weekend, we saw some better data readings from China, with retail sales rising 11.2% YoY up to November and industrial production firmer than expected at 6.2%, from 5.6% in the previous month. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that we’ve seen a reversal of the run of weaker yuan we’ve seen over the past few sessions, although the fixing was higher on USDCNY once again. For volatility though, nothing can beat the South African Rand over the past few sessions, with the appointment of another finance minister over the weekend, after he fired the incumbent on Wednesday, with his replacement lasting a mere 4 days. The rand is up more than 5% in early trading against the US dollar, but has to appreciate another 3.5% before regaining the levels that were prevailing ahead of this affair.

For today, we’re likely to see a relatively calm start to the week, with no key data releases scheduled. Stocks markets are starting the week on a firmer footing after the losses seen at the end of last week, whilst oil prices are still very near to multi-year lows. This is further impacting the oil exporting nations, the Canadian dollar and Norwegian Krone having both been under pressure of late. The Canadian dollar has stabilised a little, but continues to trade at more than 11 year highs on USDCAD.

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