OANDA:USDCAD   U.S. Dollar / Canadian Dollar
USD

FUNDAMENTAL BIAS: BULLISH

1. Monetary Policy

At the May meeting, the Fed delivered on hawkish expectations regarding rates by hiking the Fed Funds Rate by 50bsp and also confirmed that the committee expects further 50bsp hikes to be appropriate. The fed also stuck to a familiar hawkish tone by downplaying the prospects of an imminent recession by explaining that even though the economy contracted in Q1, that household spending and business investment remained strong. The Chair also stuck to their guns regarding the rate path by suggesting that they think reaching neutral (currently estimated at 2.4%) before year-end would be appropriate and will assess the need for further hikes when they get there. There were however some less hawkish elements which saw a very classic ‘sell-the-fact’ reaction in major asset classes. The first one was on the Quantitative Tightening front where the bank decided on a phased approach for balance sheet reduction by starting the monthly caps at 30bn (treasuries) and 17.5bn ( MBS ) and pushing it up to the expected $60bn (treasuries) and $35bn ( MBS ) over a three-month timeframe. The second less hawkish element was comments from Chair Powell who took 75bsp hikes off the table saying the committee was not actively considering rate moves of that size. Interestingly, it seems STIR markets did not really believe the Fed as the probability of a 75bsp hike stood at >70% directly following the presser. All-in-all, the meeting provided a short-term ‘sell-the-fact’ opportunity, but also cemented the view that despite signs of a slowing economy and despite clear stress in financial markets, the Fed is sticking to their aggressive tightening for now.

2. Global & Domestic Economy

As the reserve currency, the USD’s global usage means it’s usually inversely correlated to the global economy and global trade. The USD usually appreciates when growth & inflation slows (disinflation) and depreciates when growth & inflation accelerates (reflation). Thus, current expectations of a cyclical slowdown are a positive driver for the Dollar. Incoming data will be watched in relation to the ‘Fed Put’ as there are many similarities between now and 4Q18, where the Fed were also tightened into a slowdown. If growth data slows and the Fed stays hawkish it’s a positive for the USD, however if the Fed pivots dovish that’ll be a negative driver for the USD.

3. CFTC Analysis

Aggregate USD positioning remains close to 1 standard deviation above the mean, and close to prior tops where the USD topped out in previous cycles. That does not change the bullish outlook for the USD in the med-term but means that we would wait for pullbacks before initiating new longs with price at new cycle highs.


CAD

FUNDAMENTAL BIAS: NEUTRAL

1. Monetary Policy

The BoC delivered on expectations with a 50bsp hike as well as announcing a start to passive QT from the end of April by ending its reinvestment of maturing bonds. The bank upgraded both inflation and growth estimates as markets were expecting but did play a hawkish card by also increasing their neutral rate estimate to 2.5% from 2.25%. They acknowledged the growing risks from the current geopolitical situation but made it very clear that they are concerned about inflation and their hike of 50bsp showed that they think that policy needs to be normalized quickly (which some took as a hint that another 50bsp is on the way). The bank didn’t offer any additional clarity on QT but did note that they are not considering active QT of selling bonds just yet. Some conditionality also surfaced, where they explained that any sudden negative shocks to growth or inflation could see them pause hikes once they get closer towards neutral ( Gov Macklem also added that they might need to get rates slightly above neutral in the current cycle). Overall, it was a more hawkish than expected BoC decision, but interesting to note that STIR markets did not price in another 50bsp following the meeting (only a 25bsp) hike. We remain of the opinion that we are close to peak hawkishness for the BoC and are looking for the last push higher in the CAD for opportunities to sell.

2. Intermarket Analysis Considerations

Oil’s impressive post-covid recovery has been driven by many factors such as supply & demand , global demand recovery, and more recently geopolitical concerns. At current prices the risk to demand destruction and stagflation is high, which means we remain cautious of oil in the med-term . Reason for caution: Synchronised policy tightening targeting demand, slowing growth, consensus longs, steep backwardation curve, heightened implied volatility . We remain cautious oil , but geopolitics are a key driver and focus for Petro-currencies like the CAD (even though the CAD-Oil correlation has been hit and miss).

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

First real sign of stress for positioning for CAD as all three participant categories saw very large reductions in net-long positioning. We think markets are setting up a similar path compared to April 2021, Oct 2021 and Jan 2022 where markets were too aggressive to price in CAD upside only to see majority of it unwind later. As always though, timing those shorts will be very important and catalysts are key.

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