Monday, January 31, 2011

Risk-Aversion Buoys JPY, BoC Awaited

Risk-aversion continued to dictate market direction, with the Japanese yen touching a fresh 15-year high against the dollar while most of the major currencies tumbled against the greenback. The Canadian dollar slid by 1.2% and the euro dropped by more than 1.5%. The US equity bourses slid after returning from the long-weekend, with the major indexes shedding more than 1%. Meanwhile, safe-haven flows propped spot gold it’s a new record higher to settle around $1,257.30 per ounce while crude oil drifted lower to dip beneath the $73-per barrel mark.

Central bank policy decisions will be the key event risks in the week ahead. The Reserve Bank of Australia announced the results of its policy deliberation, leaving interest rates on hold at 4.5%. The accompanying policy statement was largely unchanged from the August statement, widely seen as more dovish and indicative the RBA leaving rates on hold for the rest of the year.

The Bank of Canada is scheduled to announce its monetary policy decision at 9:00 AM EDT, with consensus forecasts calling for a 25-basis point rate hike to 1.0%. Traders will closely scrutinize the accompany statement from the BoC. In light of the sharp pullback in second quarter GDP growth, which revealed the pace of economic growth slowing to 2.0% and down drastically from first quarter growth of 5.8%, it will be interesting to see whether the Bank will downwardly revise its growth outlook again following the downgrades from the policy statement issued in July. Given market expectations leaning toward a rate hike tomorrow, the risk stands with an unchanged BoC decision and a signal that interest rates will remain on hold in the near future as a result of the pullback in economic activity. If that scenario was to materialize, the reaction in the currency market will likely prompt a knee-jerk sell-off in the Loonie to breach the 1.0550-mark.

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