FX Spotlight | USD softens as Fed Chair Powell offers neutral tone | Article – HSBC VisionGo

USD softens as Fed Chair Powell offers neutral tone
Finance  ·    ·  6 mins read

  • The USD weakened after Fed Chair Powell – at the Jackson Hole summit – reaffirmed the possibility of a taper this year
  • Yet, we expect this USD softness to be short-lived
  • Our economists expect forward guidance to be modified at the September FOMC meeting, with a taper over an eight-month period to be formally announced in December

The USD weakened after Fed Chair Powell’s comments at the Jackson Hole summit, which were generally neutral

The USD weakened following the Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on 27 August at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium where he reaffirmed the likelihood, already laid out in the July Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes, that tapering would begin before year-end (Bloomberg, 28 August 2021). He did not suggest that the taper process would begin any sooner than previously thought.

The weakness in the USD will prove to be short-lived, in our view

Earlier last week, the USD had weakened, perhaps anticipating Powell would emphasise the heightened uncertainty and downside risks to economic growth from the spread of the Delta variant. However, in the day leading up to the speech, we heard from several Fed speakers (such as Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, and Altanta Fed President Raphael Bostic) who indicated a preference for a swift move to taper despite COVID-19’s new prominence (Bloomberg, 28 August 2021). The fact that Powell chose not to echo these hawkish sentiments in full has seen the earlier weakness in the USD resume. However, we suspect this softness in the USD will prove to be short-lived.

Our economists expect a taper over an eight-month period to be formally announced in December

Our economists still think the Fed is likely to indicate in its 21-22 September FOMC statement that economic conditions have moved even closer to the “substantial further progress” standard for tapering. Our economists also still expect a taper to be formally announced in the 14-15 December FOMC meeting, but the 2-3 November meeting is a very close call. Powell’s comments shed no light on the likely composition and duration of tapering. Our economists’ view on both is along the lines of that set out by Dallas Fed President, Robert Kaplan, recently whereby Fed purchases of Treasury securities would be reduced by USD10bn per month and purchases of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) would be reduced by USD5bn per month (Bloomberg, 26 August 2021). Under this scenario, tapering would be concluded over an eight-month period given that the Fed is currently purchasing USD80bn per month in Treasury securities and USD40bn per month in MBS.

We expect the USD to strengthen gradually in the months and quarters ahead, driven by taper prospects and eventually rate differentials

Powell’s speech may have disappointed hawks and USD bulls alike, but it is still part of a steady, gradual, and well-telegraphed shift towards policy normalisation. In turn, this has prompted a transition in how the USD is viewed. The headwinds the “safe-haven USD” faced in the past as the global economy recovered, have turned into tailwinds as the US revival prompts the USD to be viewed instead in terms of taper prospects and, ultimately, rate differentials. It is a transition which, we believe, points to further modest USD strengthening in the months and quarters ahead, the pace determined by the data and the associated Fed rhetoric. 

With Chair Powell’s speech now in the past, the focus is likely to move quickly to the release of the US employment report for August on 3 September, as the evolution of the labour market remains central to the prospects for taper timing.

Disclosure appendix

This document is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as an offer to sell or as a solicitation of an offer to buy the securities or other investment products mentioned in it and/or to participate in any trading strategy. Information in this document is general and should not be construed as investment advice, given it has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular investor. Accordingly, investors should, before acting on it, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to their objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek professional investment and tax advice.
Certain investment products mentioned in this document may not be eligible for sale in some states or countries, and they may not be suitable for all types of investors. Investors should consult with their HSBC representative regarding the suitability of the investment products mentioned in this document and take into account their specific investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs before making a commitment to purchase investment products. 
The value of and the income produced by the investment products mentioned in this document may fluctuate, so that an investor may get back less than originally invested. Certain high-volatility investments can be subject to sudden and large falls in value that could equal or exceed the amount invested. Value and income from investment products may be adversely affected by exchange rates, interest rates, or other factors. Past performance of a particular investment product is not indicative of future results.
HSBC and its affiliates will from time to time sell to and buy from customers the securities/instruments (including derivatives) of companies covered here on a principal or agency basis.
Whether, or in what time frame, an update of this information will be published is not determined in advance.
Additional disclosures
  1. This report is dated as at 30 August 2021.
  2. All market data included in this report are dated as at close 27 August 2021, unless a different date and/or a specific time of day is indicated in the report.
  3. HSBC has procedures in place to identify and manage any potential conflicts of interest that arise in connection with its Research business. HSBC's analysts and its other staff who are involved in the preparation and dissemination of Research operate and have a management reporting line independent of HSBC's Investment Banking business. Information Barrier procedures are in place between the Investment Banking, Principal Trading, and Research businesses to ensure that any confidential and/or price sensitive information is handled in an appropriate manner.
  4. You are not permitted to use, for reference, any data in this document for the purpose of (i) determining the interest payable, or other sums due, under loan agreements or under other financial contracts or instruments, (ii) determining the price at which a financial instrument may be bought or sold or traded or redeemed, or the value of a financial instrument, and/or (iii) measuring the performance of a financial instrument or of an investment fund.

Disclaimer

This document is prepared by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (‘HBAP’), 1 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. HBAP is incorporated in Hong Kong and is part of the HSBC Group. This document is for general circulation and information purposes only. This document is not prepared with any particular customers or purposes in mind and does not take into account any investment objectives, financial situation or personal circumstances or needs of any particular customer. HBAP has prepared this document based on publicly available information at the time of preparation from sources it believes to be reliable but it has not independently verified such information. The contents of this document are subject to change without notice.
This document is not investment advice or recommendation nor is it intended to sell investments or services or solicit purchases or subscriptions for them. You SHOULD NOT use or rely on this document in making any investment decision or decision to buy or sell currency. HBAP is not responsible for such use or reliance by you. You SHOULD consult your professional advisor in your jurisdiction if you have any questions regarding the contents of this document.
You SHOULD NOT reproduce or further distribute the contents of this document to any person or entity, whether in whole or in part, for any purpose. This document may not be distributed to the US, Canada or Australia or any other jurisdiction where its distribution is unlawful.
Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, this document is distributed by HBAP to its customers for general reference only. HBAP is not responsible for any loss, damage or other consequences of any kind that you may incur or suffer as a result of, arising from or relating to your use or reliance of this document. HBAP gives no guarantee, representation or warranty as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of this document.
Miscellaneous
Notwithstanding this document is not investment advice, please be aware of the following for the sake of completeness. Past performance is not an indication of future performance. The value of any investment or income may go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount invested. When an investment is denominated in a currency other than the local currency of an investor, changes in the exchange rates may have an adverse effect on the value, price or income of that investment. Where there is no recognised market for an investment, it may be difficult for an investor to sell the investment or to obtain reliable information about its value or the extent of the risk associated with it.
This document contains forward-looking statements which are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Such statements are projections, do not represent any one investment and are used for illustration purpose only. Customers are reminded that there can be no assurance that economic conditions described herein will remain in the future. Actual results may differ materially from the forecasts/estimates. No assurance is given that those expectations reflected in those forward-looking statements will prove to have been correct or come to fruition, and you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements. No obligation is undertaken to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this document or any other related document whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, its affiliates and associates and their respective officers and/or employees, may have interests in any products referred to in this document by acting in various roles including as distributor, holder of principal positions, adviser or lender. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, its affiliates and associates, and their respective officers and employees, may receive fees, brokerage or commissions for acting in those capacities. In addition, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, its affiliates and associates, and their respective officers and/or employees, may buy or sell products as principal or agent and may effect transactions which are not consistent with the information set out in this document.
© Copyright 2021. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, on any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.
HSBC
HSBC