The two most actively traded currency pairs — and broke above important resistance levels on Thursday. USD/JPY had been holding above 108 and flirting with resistance at 109.20 for the past 6 trading days but this level was finally breached when U.S. rates shot higher at the start of the NY trading session. The rally defies fundamentals as Thursday’s U.S. economic reports were softer than expected with rising and growing at its slowest pace this year. Shrugging off softer U.S. data has been a constant theme for USD/JPY traders this month with the market ignoring weakness in , and manufacturing. Although the has fallen against other major currencies like the and , its resilience versus the is consistent with the move in Treasury rates, which increased on Thursday. With that in mind, after racing to a high of 109.45, USD/JPY failed to extend its gains and instead ended the NY session not far from 109.20. On a technical basis, this means that the breakout could still be a fake-out but there are signs of a bottom on longer-term charts. Fundamentally, the only argument for dollar strength is that the disappointment in U.S. data changes nothing about the outlook for U.S. monetary policy. The Federal Reserve is still expected to again this year with the hike likely to occur in September instead June. Yen weakness on the other hand is supported by Bank of Japan Governor comment that the current pace of bond purchases will continue for some time. He’s promising a longer period of easy monetary policy, which stands in stark contrast to the Fed’s tightening plans. Looking ahead, momentum is still on the side of the bulls, which means that USD/JPY could make a run for 110.
Meanwhile, based on the , forex traders are clearly not worried about next week’s French elections. It has been a great week for the euro, which appreciated nearly 200 pips versus the U.S. dollar since Monday. Although German stagnated in March, and data released earlier this week were better than expected. The April PMI reports are scheduled for release on Friday and given the general improvements in Germany’s , we look forward to healthy data that should support the latest rally in the euro. Yet the situation in the Eurozone economy won’t be the only thing on investors’ minds on Friday. The first round of voting in the French Presidential election is on Sunday and if there is a desire for profit taking, it would need to happen on Friday. Investors don’t seem worried because Macron is leading Le Pen in the polls but as we’ve learned in the past year, there’s always the risk of an upset on Election Day.
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