A previous review named the publication of the US Fed's FOMC meeting minutes on Wednesday 18 August as the most important event of the past week. This document was supposed to clarify the situation regarding the timing of the curtailment of the monetary stimulus (QE) program. Of course, 100% clarity never came out. Some Fed executives still believe that it is necessary to start winding down stimulus at the earliest in spring 2022. However, there is also the opposite view that a parting with QE should happen before the end of this year. And it was this view that led to another decline in investor risk appetites and a further strengthening of the dollar.
EUR/USD: Fed Needs Strong Dollar, ECB Needs Weak Euro
Stock indexes - the Dow Jones, S&P500, Nasdaq Composite, have been falling since the start of the week, with the release of the minutes pushing them further down. And while a certain wave of purchases could be observed after each pullback, the trend still remains downward: the market gets rid of stocks, preferring dollars. The DXY index, which tracks the USD against a basket of 6 major currencies, heaped nearly 1.3 per cent over the week, rising from 92.500 to 93.700.
In addition to anticipating the early start of QE, the new strain of Delta coronavirus is also pressing the stock and commodity markets. In anticipation of new lockdowns, investors fear for the fate of both the global economy as a whole and its locomotive, the US economy. According to the Ministry of Health, the number of new infections totaled more than 268,000 in one day on August 17 alone, which compares with the peaks of the beginning of the year.
That being said, the US job market feels pretty good at all. At least for now. Thus, the number of initial applications for unemployment benefits decreased from 377 thousand to 348 thousand for the week, which is much better than the forecast of 363 thousand. This has been the best indicator since the beginning and has benefited the dollar. Another source of support for the USD was the widening spreads between the yields of US and foreign bonds. Foreign investors support and will support the demand for dollars in order to then purchase American Treasuries. Because of the above factors, the result of the past week was the strengthening of the dollar against the euro by 130 points. having started Monday from 1.1795, EUR/USD groped the local bottom at 1.1665 by the end of the week and finished five days in 1.1700.
A strong dollar is needed by the Fed to reassure investors about unmanageable inflation. Therefore, new, clearer signals regarding the folding of QE can be expected from this regulator. But the ECB is not at all opposed to further weakening of the euro, which has been repeatedly stated by the head of the bank Christine Lagarde. So, according to many experts, the downtrend of the EUR/USD pair will continue in the medium term. The pair has now fallen below the low of April 01, 2021, 1.1704, and if this breakdown is confirmed, the next targets will be the lows of last autumn in the 1.1600-1.1610 zone. If it is able to overcome this barrier, it will open a road to targets in zones 1.1450 and 1.1240. A 300-400 point path is likely to take a month or two to overcome. But if the Fed announces the completion of QE, the pair will fly that distance in a matter of days. This development is supported by 65% of experts.
The remaining 35% believe that the dollar may take a pause in its growth and the EUR/USD pair will return to the 1.1700-1.1900 range for a while. The nearest targets here are 1.1750 and 1.1830. In terms of technical analysis, D1 has 100% of the trend indicators and 75% of the oscillators painted red. The remaining 25% oscillators give signals that the pair is oversold.
In the coming week, we should note the publication of Markit's German and Eurozone PMI on Monday 23 August, as well as of capital orders goods and durable goods in the US on Wednesday 25 August. On Thursday, we'll find out preliminary US GDP figures. In addition, the annual symposium will be held in Jackson Hole from August 26 to 28, where Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will speak on Friday.
GBP/USD: Escape from the Pound
If the pound could still struggle with the dollar two weeks ago, it surrendered all its positions last week. Investors rushed to secure assets due to the rapid spread of the Delta strain and its impact on the global economic recovery. Plus, the possible winding down of QE in the USA. And then the Gfk UK Consumer Confidence Index fell from minus 7 in July to minus 8 in August, the worst performance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, GBP/USD falls almost 270 points to mid-term support in the 1.3600 zone and finishes at 1.3622.
We would like to remind that in the previous forecast, the specialists of the German Commerzbank designated the July 20 low at 1.3571 as the target for the pair. Given the slight backlash, this forecast proved correct. And now they say that in its fall, the pair may test the 200-week moving average at 1.3146. The strongest support along the way is located in the 1.3480 and 1.3200 zones.
South is also indicated by 100% of trend indicators and 65% of oscillators on D1. However, only 30 per cent of experts agree with them among analysts. The remaining 70% believe that the British currency's potential for resistance is far from exhausted, especially if the Bank of England takes a more active position. 35% of oscillators in the oversold zone talk of a possible reversal to the north as well. The nearest resistance is at 1.3725, the nearest target is the return of GBP/USD to the 1.3800-1.3875 zone. The nearest resistance levels are 1.3910 and 1.3960. Of the most significant macro statistics to be released next week, the publication of Markit's UK services business index on Monday 23 August can be singled out.
USD/JPY: Yen Is Not Afraid of Dollar
Against the backdrop of investors” defection from risk, unlike the rest of the currencies, the yen, as a quiet haven, successfully resists the dollar's gaining strength. Since past March, USD/JPY has been moving along the 110.00 horizon, making rare attempts to get outside the 108.30-111.00 trading channel. This time, starting the week from 109.55 mark, it finished it almost there, at 109.80, and the range of fluctuations barely exceeded 110 points: from 109.10 at the low to 110.22 at the high.
This behavior of the pair forces both experts and indicators to make very contradictory forecasts. Among the first, 45% side with the bulls, 35% side with the bears and 20% take a neutral position. Among the oscillators on D1, 35% are colored red, 15% - green, 50% - neutral gray. Among trend indicators, the ratio is 60% to 40% in favor of green.
Support levels are 109.10, 108.70 and 108.30. The bears' dream is to retest the April low of 107.45. The nearest resistance levels are the 110.00, 110.55, 110.80, 111.00 and 111.65 zones. The ultimate goal of the bulls is still the same: to get to the cherished height of 112.00.
Cryptocurrencies: The Lull Before the Storm?
Bitcoin has slowly and uncertainly creeped up all week, trying to overcome a strong level of resistance around $48,000. Two attempts, on August 14 and 16, ended in failure, after which BTC/USD rolled back to the support of $44,000. At the time of writing this review, towards the end of Friday, August 20, it went to the assault again, broke through the resistance and reached the level of $49,000 in the thin market. The total crypto market capitalization increased over the week from $1.957 trillion to $2.043 trillion, that is, by just 4.4%. And, although it has overcome the $2.0 trillion bar, it is not at all a fact that it will be able to gain a foothold above this level. Trading volumes on the BTC network remain low. The Crypto Fear & Greed Index has also remained still at 70 points.
This sluggishness and uncertainty may be due to the fact that large institutional investors are currently focusing on the traditional market. But we must not forget that mid-August is the height of the holiday period, and many traders will not step up until the end of the month.
Very strong drivers are needed to dramatically push the market up or down. World media reporters drew attention to Jerome Powell's online speech to students at the Town Hall conference. The Fed chief noted the ever-increasing importance of cryptocurrencies, outlining the phrase about the U.S. Treasury's examination of holding a portion of the country's reserves in digital assets. Making such a decision would literally blow up the cryptocurrency market, repeating the situation of 2017. The price of bitcoin soared then from $750 to $19,270, which is 25 times, getting the slang name “To the Moon”. But for now, the head of the Federal Reserve's reasoning about supporting cryptocurrencies is only theoretical.
Bloomberg analyst Michael McGlone also spoke in favor of the first cryptocurrency, who emphasized that “digitalizing money and the financial industry” gives bitcoin a huge boost to growth. Once upon a time, similar factors allowed the US dollar to dominate the global financial arena. At the same time gold, according to the analyst, has no strong drivers for growth, and BTC is therefore quite capable of replacing this metal as an asset for risk hedging and wealth accumulation.
According to McGlone's forecast, bitcoin could well reach $100,000 in the medium term. The well-known cryptanalyst PlanB calls a slightly bigger figure. In his opinion, bitcoin follows the Stock-to-Flow (S2F) model he developed very closely, so the BTC/USD pair should reach $135,000 by the end of December. Of course, all these figures are only the assumptions of specialists. Another cryptocurrency analyst Benjamin Cowen believes bitcoin is facing a crucial test this September, which will determine the future direction of the entire market. Bitcoin has tested the 20-week moving average every September since 2017 and either bounced or broke through it. And if another test happens this September, it will be possible to make a forecast basing on it until April 2022. “We will find out if the market will be bullish or if growth will stall for several months,” the analyst says.
The 20-week MA is currently around $43,500 and if BTC can hold that level as support, according to Benjamin Cowen, we will see an upward move. Santiment, a web data analysis firm, reported encouraging data for investors. Bitcoin supply on exchanges fell to a two-week low. This suggests that a large amount of BTC will go to cold wallets. Analyst firm Glassnode has made a similar observation: “Bitcoin continued to leave exchanges in August at rates ranging from 75,000 to 100,000 coins per month. This outflow is similar to the period between 2020 and the Q1 21, when large accumulations prevailed.”
Bitcoin miners are also in no hurry to part with their coins, over the past month, their balance has grown steadily. This means that they expect further growth in the price of the coin as well, so they do not want to take profits now. Despite the fact that the dominance of bitcoin has decreased from 69.7% to 43.8% since the beginning of the year, this coin is without a doubt still the main engine of the digital market. It is clear that the main competitor for BTC at the moment is ethereum. On some exchanges, it overtakes the reference cryptocurrency in terms of trading volumes already. And according to some experts, such as the head of the deVere Group Nigel Green, ETH may push bitcoin to second place in a few years.
As for the closer prospects, the popular cryptocurrency analyst and trader with the nickname DonAlt named several altcoins that are ready for a rally and may surpass BTC in profitability in the near future. The first on the list is ripple. According to the trader, the XRP/BTC pair is already "up 50 per cent but is still far from the level of resistance." DonAlt believes this pair could yet show 185% growth from current levels.