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Fed officials considering 50bps interest rate hike

February 17, 2023

US stocks dropped sharply on Thursday, coming under intense selling pressure, and closed firmly in the red after two Federal Reserve officials said they were considering 50 basis-point interest rate hikes to battle persistently high inflation. The firmer US data that allows the Fed policymakers to remain hawkish lend support to the US dollar and weighed heavily on the equity markets. On Thursday, St. Louis Federal Reserve’s James Bullard and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester both embraced more significant hikes as they said that continued policy rate increases can help lock in a disinflationary trend during 2023 and would not rule out supporting a half-percentage-point increase at the Fed’s March meeting. On top of that, the US Producer Price Index (PPI) for January gained major attention as it jumped the most since June with a 0.7% MoM figure, reviving speculation the US Federal Reserve will maintain the pace of tightening for more than anticipated. On the Eurozone front, ECB’s monthly bulletin said that future policy rate decisions will continue to be data-dependent and follow a meeting-by-meeting approach.

The benchmarks, S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average both declined lower on Thursday as the S&P 500 suffered from daily losses after the US Dollar reached fresh weekly peaks. The S&P 500 was down 1.4% daily and the Dow Jones Industrial Average also retreated lower with a 1.3% loss for the day. All eleven sectors in S&P 500 stayed in negative territory as the Consumer Discretionary sector and the Information Technology sector is the worst performing among all groups, losing 2.16% and 1.75%, respectively. The Nasdaq 100 meanwhile dropped the most with a 1.9% loss on Thursday and the MSCI World index was little changed for the day.

Main Pairs Movement

The US dollar edged higher on Thursday, refreshing its weekly peaks against most major rivals near the 104.20 level but gave back some ground ahead of the Wall Street close amid the downbeat market mood. The US Producer Price Index (PPI) bolsters hawkish Federal Reserve bets and fuels US Treasury bond yields. The latest FEDWATCH read from Reuters also signals that the interest rate futures market shows US rates could peak close to 5.25% by July.

GBP/USD declined lower on Thursday with a 0.31% loss after the cable extended its downside momentum and touched a daily low below the 1.1970 mark amid the higher-than-expected US PPI data. On the UK front, the softer UK CPI reflected that the Bank of England would not need to tighten monetary conditions aggressively. Meanwhile, EUR/USD also witnessed selling interest and dropped to a daily low below the 1.0660 area. The pair was down almost 0.14% for the day.

Gold was little changed with a 0.02% gain for the day after regaining some upside traction and rebounded from the $1828 area during the US trading session, as the higher US PPI and renew hawkish bias for the Federal Reserve continued to exert bearish pressure to the Gold price. Meanwhile, WTI Oil retreated lower with a 0.13% loss for the day.

Technical Analysis

EURUSD (4-Hour Chart)

The EURUSD came under modest bearish pressure and stayed below 1.0700 during the US trading session on Thursday. The pair confronted another selling pressure after US Producer Prices rose more than expected a monthly 0.7% in January and 6.0% from a year earlier. Still, on the strong side, weekly Initial Claims increased by 194K in the week of February 11, showing once again the persistent good health of the labor market. Moreover, Cleveland Fed and well-known hawk L.Mester reiterated that inflation remains too high at the time when she noted that the current Fed’s tightening cycle should slow growth and increase unemployment.

From a technical perspective, the four-hour scale RSI indicator remained neutral at 43 figured as of writing, suggesting that the pair was surrounded by modest negative traction. As for the Bollinger Bands, the pair was supported by the lower band and the pair touched the lower bands three times, showing this is a critical support level for the near term. As a result, we think the bears could put their eyes on the 1.0510 level once the EURUSD fell below the 1.0656 support level.

Resistance: 1.0930, 1.1020

Support: 1.0656, 1.0508

XAUUSD (4-Hour Chart)

The XAUUSD extended its bearish route and dropped to a fresh February low of $1827 marks after the release of US macroeconomic data. Currently, the US Dollar remained its upside tendency and earned modest growth daily. The US labor market remains tight, while there were more signs of inflation easing at a slower-than-anticipated pace. The January Producer Price Index (PPI) rose at an annualized pace of 6%, easing from 6.5% in December but missing the 5.4% anticipated by financial markets. Following the report, Federal Reserve Loretta Mester said that inflation remains too high and with the risks skewed to the upside, hinting the terminal rate could be well above 5%.

From a technical perspective, the four-hour scale RSI indicator figured 44 as of writing, showing the gold pair was surrounded by a modest headwind. As for the Bollinger Bands, the pair continued to trade in the lower area and failed to challenge the 20-period moving average several times. In our view, the downside tendency would persist in the near future unless the pair could stand firmly in the upper area.

Resistance: 1870, 1900, 1920

Support: 1830, 1800

Economic Data

CurrencyDataTime (GMT + 8)Forecast
  GBPRetail Sales (MoM) (Jan)15:00-0.30%