GBP FUNDAMENTAL BIAS: BULLISH 1. Virus Situation The successful vaccination program has allowed the UK to open up faster and sooner than peers & provides a favourable environment for GBP. 2. The Monetary Policy outlook for the BOE The BoE meeting on 5 August provided a flurry of comments with something for the doves and the hawks. The QE vote split was a tad more dovish with a 7-1 split with BoE’s Saunders to only dissenter, while the upgrades to growth and inflation were positive but with similar comments of ‘transitory’ price pressures muting any real market impact . The reasons for the bank to remain patient right now in terms of policy normalization is the current uncertainty surrounding the virus and of course the bank waiting for the end of the furlough scheme to assess the impact on the labour market. That means, that the bank would arguably be in wait-and-see mode until at least October or November. The other change that was important to take note of was the reduction in the bank’s QT threshold from 1.5% to 0.5%, with the bank looking at a bank rate of 0.5% to stop reinvesting maturing assets and a rate of 1.0% to start selling assets and reducing the balance sheet . Market participants are mixed about what this means for the bank as on the one end it’s positive since the bank has enough confidence to lower the balance sheet even while rates are low, but on the other end it also means that rates can stay lower for much longer which is more negative. Arguably the most important comments to take away was their continued optimism about the economy despite the uncertainty as well as their comments that modest tightening will be required. 3. The country’s economic developments Hopes of a fast economic recovery has seen the BOE and IMF upgrade GDP projections for the UK which has widened the growth differentials between other major economies by quite a bit. As the economy continues to rebound this should continue to be supportive for GBP as long as the data reflects that. Something to be mindful of is that a lot of these positives are arguably reflected in the price. Thus, if we start to see some disappointing data, that could mean that decent upside would be more difficult for Sterling to maintain. 4. Political Developments Remember Brexit? Yeah, me neither, but this week the rhetoric between the two sides continued to go in the wrong direction with the UK side explaining to the EU that they are looking at all the options on the table (include article 16) if they can’t reach an agreement with the EU regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol. For now, Sterling has looked through all the rigmarole and should continue to do so as long as the cans are kicked down the road. 5. CFTC Analysis Latest CFTC data for the GBP (updated until 17 August) showed a positioning change of -21396 with a net non-commercial position of -16745. The big push lower in positioning means current levels for GBP still look attractive for med-term buyers, especially with the positioning seeing quite a flush lower in the past few weeks. The miss in both retail sales and inflation last week did see some additional pain on the Pound two weeks ago, and this week’s flash PMI’s didn’t help either, but med-term outlook remains bullish and thus positioning attractive at these levels. CHF FUNDAMENTAL BIAS: BEARISH 1. Developments surrounding the global risk outlook. As a safe-haven currency, the market’s risk outlook is the primary driver for the CHF. Swiss economic data rarely proves market moving; and although SNB intervention can have a substantial impact on CHF, its impact tends to be relatively short-lived. Additionally, the SNB are unlikely to adjust policy anytime soon, given their overall bearish tone and a preference for being behind the ECB in terms of policy decisions. The market’s overall risk tone is improving with coronavirus vaccines being rolled out as well as the unprecedented amount of monetary policy accommodation and fiscal support from governments. Of course, risks remain as many countries are now battling third waves of the virus. As such, there is still a degree of uncertainty and risks to the overall risk outlook which could prove supportive for the CHF should negative factors for the global economy develop; however, on balance the overall risk outlook is continuing to improve and barring any major meltdowns in risk assets the bias for the CHF remains bearish .
Despite the negative drivers, the CHF has remained surprisingly strong over the past couple of weeks. This divergence from the fundamental outlook doesn’t make much sense, but the CHF often has a mind of its own and can often move in opposite directions from what short-term sentiment or its fundamental outlook suggests, thus be careful when trading the CHF and always keep the possibility of SNB intervention in mind. In a recent note ING investment provided their rationale for the recent strength in the CHF and explained that the lower inflation in Switzerland compared to the EU means the real trade-weighted CHF is actually trading too cheap. Furthermore, the ECB’s bond buying has meant that their balance sheet is expanding more rapidly compared to that of the SNB, and without any meaningful FX intervention the CHF runs the risk of slowly creeping higher, especially versus the EUR. 2. CFTC Analysis Latest CFTC data for the CHF (updated until 17 August) showed a positioning change of -1543 with a net non-commercial position of +4094. The CHF positioning continued to unwind some of its recent surprising strength over the past few weeks. The CHF still the third largest net-long positioning among the majors, which is at odds with the current fundamental bearish outlook for the currency. At the current level of positioning, one has to argue that the CHF offers attractive levels to sell into, especially versus the NZD which will is expected to offer very attractive carry yield if the RBNZ moves ahead with their planned hike projections. However, there might have been idiosyncratic factors providing support for the CHF, and any drastic escalation in risk off tones could still continue to provide support for the safe-haven currency.


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