After both Markit PMIs as well the Ifo reported mounting capacity pressures, there is a good chance that the ECB will cut back asset purchases by more than the EUR 30 bln that Bloomberg consensus suggests. However, while this is likely to see a knee jerk reaction on forex and bond markets, we expect Draghi to package the taper in a dovish statement and forward guidance, in particular leaving the option for another program extension open to dampen the impact and prevent “overreactions” on forex markets. Draghi will also confirm the sequence of exit steps, with rates expected to remain low well past the end of asset purchases, which with a 9 months program extension would push out any rate hike into 2019. And even with EUR 20 bln per months for another 9 months, the ECB will still extend its balance sheet by a further EUR 180 bln, so monetary policy will not only remain expansionary, it will be even more expansionary than now, with Draghi only gently taking the foot off the accelerator. Indeed, the good news this week was that while Bund yields jumped higher Eurozone peripherals actually mostly outperformed. So at least on that front Draghi can be a bit more confident that “less for longer” will not be a cause of a fresh wave of instability.
The euro has been trading buoyantly into the ECB announcement today. EURUSD clocked a one-week high of 1.1837earlier in the Asian session, and while EURJPY and EURCHF have remained below their respective 22- and 33-month highs of yesterday, they remain underpinned, with both crosses having picked up from shallow dips. EURUSD has akey support/restance level at 1.1830 which represents the 38.2 Fibonacci retrace level from the September 8th high at 1.2092.