In December, European inflation reached a record high, up 5% over the year before. The US Federal Reserve has pointed to more aggressive measures to contain inflation.
There were a few surprises in the first week of 2022 for the EUR/USD pair, but it remained largely unchanged. Among the biggest shocks was when the American central bank released minutes of its December meeting, which showed policymakers were considering cutting their bonds.
According to the Fed, if the current improvements in the labor market persist, the conditions for a rate hike are likely to be met relatively soon. Next came the December nonfarm payroll report. The US created 199,000 new jobs in December, half of the market expected. On the other hand, the unemployment rate improved and fell to 3.9%. While the numbers were not impressive, market participants still considered them acceptable.
In December, the euro area’s inflation rate grew by 5%, a new record high after the last month at 4.9%. Also, German consumer prices rose 5.3% compared to the forecast of 5.2%. Inflation is pushing the European Central Bank to reconsider its conservative stance.
The hawkish FOMC minutes from Wednesday have so far proven not hawkish enough to trigger more than the one-off adjustment in the US dollar that seems to be fading quickly as we look toward today’s US December jobs report (more on that below). At the same time, risk sentiment remains broadly stable, speculative- and highly interest rate-sensitive US equities generally aside. This is intriguing as the implication is that as long as US yields and Fed expectations are able to march higher without spooking asset markets, the US dollar may fail to rally and could even weaken, though we need to get EURUSD up out of the sub-1.1400 range for a more interesting signal on that front.
Additionally, for the cycle we have to wonder if the Fed is the cart or the horse here, something that it may itself not understand, as it has already shared its lack of understanding on how its balance sheet affects the economy (though we seem to have a good idea how it affects financial markets – and the standing repo facility of some $1.5 trillion offers the Fed quite a large safety valve for how tapering and possibly a quick move to reducing the balance sheet will affect treasury market and asset market dynamics). Put another way, the economy will pull the Fed this way or that on interest rates more than Fed policy will impact the data, as policy moves only hit with a significant lag of 9-12 months.
Speaking of data, the next step for the USD and market is the December jobs report later today, with the market likely leaning now for quite a strong figure, given the six-month high ADP December private payrolls change number released on Wednesday at +807k. That puts the two-month total for the Nov-Dec ADP private payrolls change at over 1.3 million, while the official BLS nonfarm payrolls change total was a tepid +210k in November. Today’s December tally is expected to show about +450k of payrolls growths. But note: the “two-month net revision” number bears watching, as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has had difficulty collecting data over the last year and has consistently underestimated the pace of jobs growth, with every month since July seeing growing positive revisions, from a +119k revision in August to a +235k revision in November.