AUD subdued on Friday after tumultuous week. AFEX Monday update – October 15, 2018

It was a mixed week for the Australian dollar with turmoil in equity markets weighing heavily mid-week, but a recovery ensued enabling the AUD to settle back above 0.7100 at the close on Friday.

All appeared ok in the markets early in the week, but on Wednesday in the US investors quickly shifted into overdrive and ditched their equity holdings.  The appeal of risk-free bond yields at 7-year highs appeared the key catalyst.  With equities down over 3% in the session, currency traders flocked to the safe havens of the Japanese yen, Swiss franc and US dollar – leaving the risk-currencies like the AUD completely out of favour as traders rushed to the exits.

The Australian dollar fell from 0.7130 at 4.30pm on Wednesday to 0.7043 at 7.30am on Thursday, a 1.2% swing.  But as quickly as the sell-off happened, by 11.30pm Thursday night it had fully recovered and spent the remainder of the week grinding sideways to close at 0.7110.

The AUD also lost ground against the EUR.  For a while there on Thursday AUD/EUR touched its lowest level since August 2015 at 0.6112, a far cry from the 0.7300 level where it traded in February 2017.  It managed to bounce higher off the lows to close the week out at 0.6151.

It was a similar story for the AUD/GBP, where on Thursday it traded at the lowest level since June 2016 at 0.5335.  However it also managed a recovery, closing the week at 0.5404.

The week ahead is quite busy on the economic front.  In the US, retail sales lead the way on Monday night, followed by the Fed meeting minutes on Thursday night.  Throughout the week there are also a host of speeches by Fed members.  Locally we have the RBA publishing their meeting minutes on Tuesday, followed by employment data on Thursday.  In the UK, highlights include employment data on Tuesday, CPI on Wednesday and retail sales on Thursday.  In addition, the Brexit negotiations will be a key factor in how the sterling trades this week and US treasuries and the US/China trade tiff will be key determinants on how the USD trades.

Given the plethora of economic data and political events this week, no doubt we are in for another volatile week ahead in the currency markets.  Expected weekly trade ranges:

  • AUD/USD:  0.7040 – 0.7215.  Neutral bias
  • AUD/EUR:  0.6110 – 0.6180.  Neutral bias
  • AUD/GBP:  0.5330 – 0.5520.  Bullish bias

I’m expecting the sterling to be the key trade this week.  Given Brexit negotiations appear to have missed the deadline for the EU’s October meeting, there could be some negativity towards the GBP as a result.  This could help AUD/GBP recover in the short-term.

James King
Head of FX Dealing. AFEX

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