Inflationary pressures are declining in the US economy, a phenomenon that could lead the Fed to begin another round of quantitative easing (QE). For the fourth consecutive month headline inflation fell with the October numbers showing a -0.1% m/m contraction. Year-over-year CPI was up 3.5%. Core inflation was in-line with consensus forecasts, climbing by 0.1% in October and up 2.1% y/y. Leading the decline in prices were raw material costs while the cost of food rose only 0.1% for the smallest gain since the beginning of the year.
The decline of inflation is in-line with the most recent Fed forecasts, a topic Bernanke has stressed multiple times. Traders should focus on how the Fed will address a drop in US prices. As Bernanke said in a speech in Cleveland in late September, the Fed has the tools to act should the risk of falling prices become apparent. This would suggest another round of bond buying (QE3) to support the US economy. While this would likely be a negative for the USD, perhaps traders should look to the crude oil markets for a sign of what is to come.
Yesterday spot crude oil prices broke above $100 for the first time since July, adding more than 1/3rd of its value since the October low. During QE2 commodities and the commodity currencies such as the AUD and CAD were some of the strongest performers versus the USD. Dollar bulls should take note.
With yesterday’s BoE Inflation Report the UK central bank took one step closer towards additional quantitative easing. The report suggests near-term growth will be affected by both UK austerity measures and headwinds in the global economy. The central bank forecasts GDP to increase by only 1% throughout 2012. They also expect a reversal of inflationary pressures. CPI currently stands at 5.1% y/y while the BoE forecasts CPI to fall below the 3% target the central bank keeps to 1.3% in 2013.
With the depressing outlook for the UK economy the BoE is likely increasing market expectations for additional easing of UK monetary policy via bond purchase. This would likely weigh on sterling in the near-term. The GBP/USD has support at the October 18th low of 1.5630 with resistance coming in at the bottom of the late October-early November consolidation at 1.5860.
In its Monetary Policy Statement the Bank of Japan reduced its economic assessment of the Japanese economy but also spent a large amount of time devoted to the global economic environment. The interest rate was kept unchanged between 0-0.1%, in-line with consensus expectations.
The USD/JPY was stable yesterday, trading in a tight 30 pip range. However, the pair continues to drift lower towards its all-time low of 75.55. But first the pair will need to close below its 55-day moving average at 76.95. Initial resistance remains at Monday’s low of 76.80 with resistance at 77.50 from the mid-October consolidation, followed by the trend line from the 2007 high which comes in at 79.25.
Spot crude oil prices have peaked above the psychological barrier of $100 and have extended gains following the release of stronger than expected industrial production numbers and inflationary data that showed prices in the US declined more than forecasted. Crude oil prices have been on a tear since the end of October, rising over 33%
The quick appreciation in spot crude oil prices may be based on two assumptions; a recovering US economy and expectations of QE3 from the Fed. Yesterday data showed US industrial production in the month of October rose 0.7% on consensus forecasts of 0.4% growth. This comes on the heels of stronger retail sales data released on Tuesday.
Declining inflationary pressures in the US may also force the Fed to act to curb any threat of deflation. Data released on Wednesday showed consumer prices fell in October with CPI contracting by -0.1% m/m on forecasts for 0.0%. This follows Tuesday’s PPI numbers that showed producer prices declined by -0.3% in October.
As Bernanke said in a speech in Cleveland in late September, the Fed has the tools to act should the risk of falling prices become apparent. This would suggest another round of bond buying (QE3) to support the US economy. While this would likely be a negative for the USD, perhaps the gains in crude oil prices suggest markets are already pricing in QE3.