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EUR CAD - FUNDAMENTAL DRIVERS

OANDA:EURCAD   Euro / Canadian Dollar
EUR

FUNDAMENTAL BIAS: NEUTRAL

1. Monetary Policy

Hawkish sums up the ECB’s Feb decision. The initial statement was in line with Dec guidance and offered very little surprises (which was initially seen as dovish). However, during the press conference President Lagarde explained that the upside surprises in CPI in Dec and Jan saw unanimous concern around the GC in the nearterm and surprised markets by not repeating Dec language which said a 2022 rate hike was unlikely (which immediately saw STIR markets price in a 10bsp hike as soon as June). The president also made the March meeting live, by stating that they’ll use the March meeting to decide what the APP will look like for the rest of 2022 (which markets took as a signal that the APP could conclude somewhere in 2H22. After the meeting we had the customary sources comments which stated that the ECB is preparing for a potential policy recalibration in March (with some members wanting to change policy at today’s meeting already) and added that it is sensible not to exclude a 2022 hike as a possibility and also stated that the ECB is considering possibly ending the APP at the end of Q3 (which would put a Q4 hike in play). Furthermore, sources stated that if inflation does not ease, they’ll consider adjusting policy in March (which means incoming inflation data will be critical). The shift is stance and tone were significant for us to change the bank’s overall policy stance to neutral and to adjust the EUR’s fundamental bias from dovish to neutral as well. Incoming inflation data will be key from here.

2. Economic & Health Developments

Recent activity data suggests the hit from lockdowns weren’t as bad as feared, the Omicron restrictions weighed on growth. Differentials still favour the US and UK above the EZ. The big focus though is on the incoming inflation data after the ECB’s recent hawkish pivot at their Feb meeting. On the fiscal front, attention is on ongoing discussions to potentially allow purchases of ‘green bonds’ NOT to count against budget deficits. If approved, this can drastically change the fiscal landscape and would be a positive for the EUR and EU equities.

3. Geopolitics

Even though the EUR, through Western sanctions, have dodged potential weakness from the CBR selling the EUR to prop up the RUB, the single currency was not immune for long. It held up okay on Monday and Tuesday, but as proximity risk to the war and economic risk as a result of sanctions grew, the risk premium ballooned, sending EUR risk reversals tanking lower while implied volatility jolted higher. With very big moves lower already, chasing the lows aren’t very attractive, but picking bottoms is equally dangerous.

4. CFTC Analysis

Last week we looked at the big amount of bullish sentiment built up for the EUR over the past 3 months, and we think a lot of those new bulls were caught with their pants down the past week, forcing huge capitulations as the EUR went into free fall across the board. Keep in mind the release date of the COT data means this week’s release won’t show the extent of unwinding until next week, so flying blind is an understatement here.

5. The Week Ahead

The ECB will be the main scheduled risk event for the EUR this week, alongside further unscheduled war news of course. For the ECB, there is not a lot of conviction that the bank will announce a policy recalibration at this week’s meeting. Even though the latest HICP saw yet another bigger-than-expected jolt higher, the geopolitical situation adds a lot of risk. With three separate ECB members (Stournaras, Centeno, Rehn) specifically mentioning stagflation as a growing risk, that shows us that the focus has shifted for some. However, the bank will have a really tough time this week as they will need to juggle between trying to downplay tightening financial conditions in the midst of a potentially big hit to the economy, while also trying to convince markets that they will sort out the current inflation challenge (with ECB’s Lane saying staff economic projections were revised in order to take the Russian invasion into account). On the Russia/Ukraine side, the market priced in a ton of risk premium last week, with EUR risk reversals falling off a cliff and reaching levels last seen during the Covid crash in 2020 and the EU sovereign debt crisis in 2012. With so much bad news priced in the EUR might struggle to continue its move lower without really substantial bad news, but at the same time with the big risk premium any good news could see exacerbated upside.

CAD

FUNDAMENTAL BIAS: NEUTRAL

1. Monetary Policy

The BoC did not surprise at their March meeting by hiking rates to 0.50% from 0.25% and continuing the reinvestment phase regarding asset purchases. The bank noted that the Russia/Ukraine war was a new major uncertainty for the economy and that as a result inflation is now expected to be higher in the near-term. They were optimistic about the growth outlook though and reiterated that it expects further interest rate rises will be needed. On the QT side, Gov Macklem noted that around 40% of the bank's bond holdings were due to mature within two years, and suggested that balance sheet could shrink quickly, and also added that they will discuss ending the reinvestment phase and starting QT at the April meeting. The Governor also said he didn’t rule out the potential for 50bsp rate rises as oil is putting upside pressure on oil , noting that oil prices around $110 per barrel could add another percentage point to inflation . With markets implying close to another 5 hikes this year, we remain cautious on the currency as a slowing US and Canadian economy means the bank should struggle to maintain it’s current hawkish path in the weeks and months ahead.

2. Intermarket Analysis Considerations

Oil’s massive post-covid recovery has been impressive, driven by various factors such as supply & demand (OPEC’s production cuts), strong global demand recovery, and of course ‘higher for longer’ than expected inflation . The geopolitical crisis the world is facing right now have opened up a big push higher in WTI, trading at levels last seen since 2008 last week. With oil prices at these levels the risk to demand destruction and stagflation is higher than ever and means we remain cautious oil in the med-term . Reason for that view is: Synchronised policy tightening from DM central banks targeting demand, slowing growth and inflation , a consensus that is very long oil (growing calls for $100 WTI), very steep backwardation futures curve which usually sees negative forward returns, heightened implied volatility . However, recent geopolitical risks have been a key focus point for oil and means escalation and de-escalation will be important to watch.

3. Global Risk Outlook

As a high-beta currency, the CAD usually benefits from overall positive risk sentiment as well as environments that benefit pro-cyclical assets. Thus, both short-term (immediate) and med-term (underlying) risk sentiment will always be a key consideration for the CAD.

4. CFTC Analysis

We think the recent price action and positioning data has seen the CAD take a very similar path compared to April and Oct 2021 where markets were way too aggressive and optimistic to price in upside for the CAD, only to then see majority of it unwind. However, oil prices remain in focus as a key intermarket driver.

5. The Week Ahead

On the data side this week we have employment data released on Friday where markets are expecting a strong recovery of 160K from last months dismal -200K print, and Unemployment is expected to drift to 6.2% from the prior jump to 6.5%. The data will as always be important from a macro perspective, but it whether it’s a big miss or beat would probably not be enough to change the BoC’s mind about their policy path just yet. That means, it could create some short-term volatility , but probably not any sustainable shifts in the big picture. The other driver to watch for the CAD is the oil market, where continued geopolitical risks have seen some jarring spikes in oil prices, reaching levels last seen during the Global Financial Crisis. As a Petro-currency this is usually expected to be very supportive for the CAD, but the correlation between WTI and the CAD has been rather hit and miss over the past few weeks and months. However, it’s quite normal for correlations to strengthen and weaken over time, and just because oil has not been a big influence for the CAD’s recent price action, it doesn’t mean it can’t come back into focus given recent energy market developments.

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