Both the US Dollar and US Treasury yields have settled off their respective highs, while global equity markets have come off the boil as investors take stock in the face of lofty valuations. The reflation trade remained alive and kicking in commodities, however, with copper and other base metals surging to fresh multi-year highs, buoyed by demand on Chinese exchanges, which reopened after their week long hiatus for the Lunar New Year holiday. USOIL prices also clocked a new 13-month peak.
A Reuters article highlighted a laboratory study showing that the Pfizer vaccine was less effective against the South African variant of SARS-Cov2, which may have been a contributory factor behind the more risk-cautious sentiment in stock markets, although evidently this story had little impact in the commodity realm. Some scientists have been welcoming the similarities in the various ‘successful’ mutations of the coronavirus — that is those variants that have become dominant out of the thousands of mutations — as it suggests that the only way the virus is successfully mutating is to more transmissible versions, as seen the South African, Brazilian and UK variants, rather than to a more deadly version of itself. There is also confidence that existing vaccines can also be relatively easily tweaked to deal these variants, too. In currency markets today, ranges have been narrow so far.
The USDIndex has seen a less than 10 pip range, holding just below the 91.00 level. EURUSD has been similarly unambitious in directional terms, plying a narrow path above yesterday’s 10-day low at 1.2023. Cable has recouped to levels above 1.3900 after trading under 1.3850 yesterday. The 34-month peak seen on Tuesday is at 1.3951. At the same time, the Pound has posted a fresh 10-month high against the Euro, and has lifted against the Yen and other currencies.
This continues the moderate outperforming bias the Pound has been exhibiting on the year so far, since the UK completed Brexit by leaving its transition membership of the EU’s common market and customs union. News earlier this week that the UK government reached, ahead of schedule, its target to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups against Covid have given markets reason to be bullish on Sterling, which is amid what could be described as a crawl out of historically weak trade-weighted valuations with four-and-a-half years of Brexit uncertainty having finally come to an end. Only Israel and the UAE have vaccinated faster than the UK, and the contrast with the situation in the EU has been mooted lately in market narratives as being a bearish factor for EURGBP. Prime Minister Johnson will be laying out a road map for reopening next Monday. This should keep the Pound broadly underpinned.
A modicum of yen outperformance has seen USDJPY ebb to a 2-day low at 105.69. The pair remains up by just over 2.5% on the year-to-date, corresponding with the pronounced widening in US Treasury over JGB yield differentials, which in the case of the 10-year benchmarks has been more than 35bp over this period. Yen crosses, which have recently been trading at either multi-month or multi-year highs, also tipped lower. In the cryptocurrency realm, Bitcoin rallied to yet another record, this time above $52,500, amid increasing signs that the asset class, which is essentially a digital version of a precious metal (limited supply and no yield, although with the added benefit of no storage costs), is becoming accepted by institutional investors.