Chile’s peso is poised to reverse its biggest decline in five months as a measure of the Latin American nation’s trade balance signals improvement.
Copper relative to crude oil has risen to the highest level since June. That’s significant because Chile depends on the metal for more than half of its exports, while buying almost all the oil it consumes. When copper was increasing relative to crude in June and September 2012, the peso strengthened an average 2.2 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Trading patterns also indicate the peso’s 3.3 percent drop in the past month will be hard to sustain.
“The depreciation is a bit stretched,” Guilherme Marone, a strategist at Deutsche Bank AG, the world’s largest currency trader, said in a phone interview from New York yesterday. “Copper prices are stable. It doesn’t justify such a big decline in a short period of time. The peso is a candidate for a retracement trade.”
An economic recovery in China, Chile’s main trading partner, will stabilize copper prices and benefit the peso, which is among the cheapest developing-nation currencies, according to Morgan Stanley. The peso declined the most after Brazil’s real among 31 major peers tracked by Bloomberg over the past month as the Andean country’s central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates and the economy slowed.
The peso declined 0.5 percent yesterday to 515.68 per dollar as a report showed the economy grew in September at the slowest pace in four months and minutes of the central bank’s Oct. 17 meeting showed policy makers voted unanimously to reduce borrowing costs. The currency slipped to 516.1 on Nov. 1, the weakest level since August, and was at 515.21 as of 12:52 p.m. in New York.
Some measures indicate a reversal in the peso may be coming. The “k-line” of stochastics, which gauges current price relative to highs and lows, has increased to 97, above the 80 threshold deemed as oversold for the peso, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A signal to buy the peso would be confirmed if the k-line crossed below its moving average of 92.
While the Andean nation’s economy has slowed, trade prospects have brightened. The price of copper, which makes up more than half of Chile’s exports, has risen 7 percent in the second half of the year to $3.2585 a pound on speculation demand will rise as growth in the world’s largest economies quickens.
Crude oil, which makes up 14 percent of Chilean imports, has plunged 15 percent in the past two months to $93.93 a barrel as speculation that the U.S. military would intervene in Syria faded. The copper-to-oil ratio rose to 3.5 from a five-year low of 2.9 in July, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
China, the largest buyer of Chile’s copper, said Nov. 2 that its services industry grew in October at the fastest pace this year. Chile’s trade deficit will narrow to $116 million in October from $220 million the previous month, according to the median estimate of eight economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Chile’s central bank cut its target lending rate a quarter-percentage point to 4.75 percent Oct. 17 as inflation and economic growth slowed. One policy maker said in minutes published yesterday that a weaker peso would be desirable as the international outlook turns against emerging markets.
The implied yield money managers can earn by investing in the Chilean peso through the forwards market plunged after the central bank’s surprise rate cut. The 12-month yield fell to 4.37 percent on Nov. 5 from 4.84 percent before the reduction.
While Barclays Plc’s Sebastian Brown said on Nov. 4 that clients should exit a trade to sell the peso, he expects the currency to weaken to as low as 530 per dollar in a year as the economy slows.
“The gradual transition of the Chilean economy to a lower-growth state” will weigh on the peso, Brown, a New York-based economist for the British lender, wrote in a research note.
The peso’s decline has made it the most undervalued among 18 emerging-market currencies tracked by Morgan Stanley after the Polish zloty and the Colombian peso. At current levels, it’s 5 percent below its fair value of 490 per dollar, according to Morgan Stanley’s model.
Chilean exporters may take advantage of the peso’s weakness to buy the currency as a hedge, limiting further declines, according to Eugenio Cortes, the head of currency forwards at EuroAmerica Corredores de Bolsa SA.
“We may only get a couple more days of depreciation,” Cortes said.