FX Traders Losing Confidence in Dollar With Few Catalysts to Buy

  • “The dollar has peaked,” says Societe Generale’s Juckes
  • Options signal smaller chance of greenback gain versus euro

NAB's Catril Sees More Room for Euro to Run

Currency traders are getting no joy from one of the market’s most crowded trades.

Dollar bulls have reason to be gloomy after the greenback ended last week little changed against a basket of peers following a three-week decline. The U.S. currency struggled to lure buyers after a mixed jobs report and a Federal Reserve meeting in which officials signaled no change to their interest-rate policy outlook.

And with centrist Emmanuel Macron leading in the polls heading into the final round of France’s presidential election Sunday, market participants have become more optimistic about the euro’s prospects. In the options market, the likelihood of the dollar rising against the euro this year has tumbled from a month ago.

“The dollar is at a tipping point,” said Ulf Lindahl, chief executive officer of A.G. Bisset Associates, who manages about $1 billion from Norwalk, Connecticut. The greenback “is likely poised to drop sharply in the months ahead” as U.S. economic data soften, he said.

Inflation and retail sales will be among the indicators to watch this week, as well as speakers including the New York Fed’s William Dudley. April’s consumer-price report may show inflation cooled from a year earlier, echoing last week’s reading on average hourly earnings.

The dollar fell 0.9 percent last week to $1.0998 per euro, and is down more than 4 percent in 2017. The likelihood of the greenback posting an annual gain this year has dropped to 17 percent from 32 percent a month ago, options imply.

Hedge funds and money managers trimmed net bullish bets on the dollar to the lowest since September, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Net long positions tallied 133,092 contracts in the week to May 2, down from 155,569 a week earlier.

While the Fed has signaled two more rate hikes in 2017, traders aren’t convinced the economy is strong enough.

“The dollar has peaked,” Kit Juckes, a global strategist at Societe Generale, wrote in a note last week. While the Fed is on track for a June rate increase, “that won’t be enough to drive the dollar very far unless the market rethinks the longer-term rate outlook.”

What to watch next week:

May 8Mortgage Delinquencies
Fed’s Bullard Speaks on Panel on Interest Rate Policy
Fed’s Mester Speaks at Chicago Council on Global Affairs
May 9NFIB Small Business Optimism
JOLTS Job Openings
Fed’s Kashkari Speaks to Minnesota High Tech Conference
Fed’s Rosengren Speaks at NYU Conference
Fed’s Kaplan Speaks to Dallas Regional Chamber
May 10MBA Mortgage Applications 
Import Price Index
Export Price Index
Fed’s Rosengren to Speak on Economy in Vermont
May 11PPI
Jobless Claims
Fed’s Dudley Speaks on Globalization in Mumbai
May 12CPI
Retail Sales
U.of Michigan Sentiment
Fed’s Evans Speaks in Dublin
Fed’s Harker at Drexel University
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