- AUD/USD bulls come up to meet resistance near 0.6700.
- Fed and RBA bets are driving AUD back and forth amid uncertainty.
AUD/USD is a touch higher by some 0.2% on Tuesday after rising from a low of 0.6631 and reaching a high of 0.6696 at the start of the New York session. Bulls are in play despite softer Aussie data and the subsequent heightened dovish speculation with regard to the Reserve Bank of Australia. Instead, risk sentiment has improved, (AUD proxy) as Federal Reserve odds have moved in favor of a slower path of rate hikes amid the banking sector troubles.
US CPI keeps Fed rate hike odds alive
The combination is neutral for the Aussie but there is a bearish bias in the US Dollar for the meanwhile as investors tread cautiously ahead of next week´s Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The US Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4% last month after accelerating 0.5% in January. In the 12 months through February, the CPI increased by 6.0%, a slower pace than the 6.4% annualized gain in January, however, this was still above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target, as such, the US Dollar found some demand on the data and printed the session high in the US but it has since turned lower while futures priced in a Fed rate cut by year’s end.
Federal Reserve observers are mixed on whether the still solid rise in inflation will push the Fed to raise rates again next week after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank caused turmoil in financial markets. Markets are in anticipation of a terminal rate of 4.45% for December, down from more than 5% last week. Fed funds futures also reveal a change in sentiment with regard to this month’s FOMC meeting. However, the CME´s Fed Watch Tool shows a 28.4% likelihood the Fed would stand pat at the end of its two-day policy meeting on March 22, slightly down from the prior day following the CPI data.
RBA dovish bets accumulating
Meanwhile, domestically, net AUD short positions have moved moderately lower between February 7 and February 21, analysts at Rabobank noted. ´´More recently, the Reserve Bank of Australia, RBA, has indicated that a pause in policy may be on the horizon, though further tightening is expected first.´´
In this regard, the recent NAB February business survey revealed a fall in business confidence though conditions remained similar to January. RBA Governor Lowe has stated that this is 1 of the 4 data points (i.e., jobs, retail sales, business survey, and inflation) the Bank is closely watching for its policy decision in April. This NAB print suggests business activity is softening and this is a dovish input that implies a potential pause by the RBA. ´´However, we think the Feb Jobs Report released this Thurs is more crucial to the Bank given the Governor’s emphasis on preserving job gains,´´ analysts at TD Securities argued.
The analysts said that this will be one of the most closely watched employment prints in a long time. ´´The larger-than-usual increase in under-employed people in Jan, and the larger-than-usual rise in the number of unemployed people who had a job to go to in the future suggests a bounce is likely,´´ the analysts said who forecast 47k jobs were added in Feb, the participation rate rising to 66.6%, keeping the Unemployment Rate rate unchanged at 3.7%.