NordFX Weekly Forecast

Forex and Cryptocurrencies Forecast for March 11 - 15, 2024

Publish date: Sat, 09 Mar 2024, 06:11 AM
Forex Forecast and Cryptocurrency Forecast form NordFX

EUR/USD: A Bad Week for the Dollar


The past week was dominated by the European Central Bank (ECB)'s meeting on Thursday, 7 March. As anticipated, the pan-European regulator decided to maintain its current monetary policy, leaving the interest rate unchanged at 4.50%. This move reaffirmed its commitment to steering inflation into the desired range. The ECB aims to be absolutely certain that inflation is consistently moving towards its 2.0% target, which currently stands at 2.6%.

According to analysis from ANZ Bank, a reduction in euro rates is expected in Q2. "Our interpretation of current ECB official guidance is that hawks are on the rise and prefer to wait for more detailed wage growth data before initiating a rate cut. We believe a consensus will be reached in June," ANZ economists wrote.

This expectation was echoed by Gediminas Šimkus, a member of the ECB Governing Council and head of Lithuania's central bank, on Friday, 8 March. He stated that "all conditions are set for a transition to a less stringent monetary policy, with a rate cut in June being very likely. While a cut in April cannot be ruled out, the likelihood is low." He added that there is no reason to reduce the rate by more than 25 basis points in one go.

It's important to note that the Federal Reserve usually acts more aggressively than the ECB, changing its rate more frequently and with greater amplitude. To see this, one only needs to look at the statistics from the last 10 years. According to analysts at Commerzbank, this means that if both central banks start their easing cycles at the same time, the dollar rate could very quickly fall below the euro rate, which would support an increase in the EUR/USD exchange rate.

However, what the cycles will look like this time remains unclear. The CME FedWatch Tool estimates a 56% probability of a Federal Reserve rate cut in June. Yet, speaking to the US Congress on 6-7 March, Fed Chair Jerome Powell only vaguely stated that the regulator would ease monetary policy "at some point this year".

A statement by Loretta Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, proved to be more interesting. Speaking at the European Centre for Economics and Finance, she expressed concerns about the continued steady decrease in inflation throughout the year. Therefore, in Mester's view, it would be appropriate to keep the rate at its current level of 5.50%. The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland also suggested that if economic conditions align with forecasts, the likelihood of a rate cut towards the end of the year might increase.

Regarding the macroeconomic statistics released last week, Eurostat's final assessment showed that the Eurozone economy grew by 0% in quarterly terms over the last three months of 2023. Year-on-year, GDP increased by 0.1%. Both figures matched preliminary estimates and market expectations, thus having no impact on the exchange rates.

Throughout the week, the dollar was under pressure, and not just due to Jerome Powell's "dull" Congressional testimony. US macroeconomic reports appeared relatively weak. For instance, the ISM Services Sector Business Activity Index for February fell from 53.4 points to 52.6 points. Manufacturing orders in January also dropped by 3.6%, which was worse than the 2.9% forecast. The number of job openings (JOLTS) in the US last month was 8.863 million, down from 8.889 million the previous month, and initial unemployment claims for the week ending on 2 March rose to 217K, exceeding the 215K forecast. All these factors together led to the EUR/USD pair moving out of the narrow range of 1.0800-1.0865, in which it had been trading since 20 February, and rising to the 1.0900 mark.

Labour market statistics released on Friday, 8 March, could have supported the dollar, but this did not happen, even though the market's reaction was somewhat puzzling. On one hand, the number of new jobs created outside of the agricultural sector (NonFarm Payrolls) was 275K, significantly exceeding both the previous figure of 229K and the forecast of 198K. Typically, such indicators would push the EUR/USD pair down. However, this time, it sharply rose instead. This likely relates to the unemployment rate increasing from 3.7% to 3.9% (with a forecast of 3.7%) and the average hourly earnings showing a sharp drop from 0.5% (month-over-month) to 0.1% (against a forecast of 0.2%). It seems the last two indicators outweighed the positive effect from the NFP. Market participants decided that these would be additional arguments in favour of a more imminent interest rate cut, resulting in EUR/USD soaring to 1.0980.

Subsequently, the excitement settled, and EUR/USD closed at 1.0937. As for the short-term outlook, as of the evening of Friday, 8 March, 35% of experts were in favour of the dollar strengthening and the pair falling, while 65% sided with the euro. Trend indicators and oscillators on the D1 chart are 100% coloured in green, with a quarter of the latter in the overbought zone. The nearest support levels for the pair are situated in the 1.0845-1.0865 zone, followed by 1.0800, then 1.0725, 1.0680-1.0695, 1.0620, 1.0495-1.0515, and 1.0450. Resistance zones are located around 1.0970-1.1015, 1.1050, and 1.1100-1.1140, up to 1.1230-1.1275.

The upcoming week is expected to be quite tumultuous. Significant volatility can be anticipated on Tuesday, 12 March, with the release of consumer inflation (CPI) data in Germany and the USA. On Thursday, 14 March, retail sales statistics and the Producer Price Index (PPI) in the United States will be announced. The week will conclude with the publication of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index on Friday, 15 March.

GBP/USD: A Good Week for the Pound

Starting the week at 1.2652, GBP/USD recorded a local high of 1.2893 on Friday, gaining 241 points and breaking out of the medium-term sideways channel of 1.2600-1.2800. The first reason for such dynamics is the weakness of the dollar, as mentioned earlier. The second reason is the positive economic statistics from the UK: the Construction PMI increased from 48.8 to 49.7. This indicates that the real estate sector is almost overcoming a period of stagnation, which, in turn, will eventually provide significant support to the country's economy.

There's also a third reason. In our last review, we warned that a key event for the pound sterling last week would be the announcement of the UK Government's budget on Wednesday, 6 March. This pre-election budget could significantly impact the British currency, which in 2024 is the second most successful G10 currency after the US dollar.

Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt, presenting the spring government budget, called it a plan for long-term growth. Hunt announced various benefits and subsidies amounting to £1.8 billion, as well as an allocation of £360 million for funding research and development in the biomedical sector, car manufacturing, and aerospace production. The government will also assist British households by partially reducing taxes. Moreover, it will actively stimulate economic growth to ensure the prosperity of the country's citizens. Specifically, the temporary reduction in duties on fuel and alcohol will continue.

Hunt also stated that inflation could fall to 2.0% by the end of the year, and the UK's GDP this year would grow by 0.8%. Overall, the finance minister's figures and promises, as is customary before elections, were quite impressive, allowing the pound to strongly challenge the dollar.

But will this boost of strength last for the British currency? Economists at HSBC note that the UK still faces a challenging combination of inflation and growth. This limits the Bank of England (BoE)'s ability to maintain a maximally hawkish stance compared to other central banks. As it becomes more dovish, the pound may face significant downward pressure in the coming months.

GBP/USD concluded last week at 1.2858. Analysts' opinions on its near-term behaviour are divided: a majority (60%) predict a decline, 20% anticipate growth, and 20% remain neutral. Among trend indicators and oscillators on the D1 chart, the situation mirrors that of EUR/USD: all point north, although 25% of oscillators signal the pair is overbought. Should the pair move southward, it will encounter support levels and zones at 1.2800-1.2815, 1.2750, 1.2695-1.2710, 1.2575-1.2610, 1.2500-1.2535, 1.2450, 1.2375, and 1.2330. In the event of an upward trend, resistance will be met at levels 1.2880-1.2900, 1.2940, 1.3000, and 1.3140.

On Wednesday, 13 March, the UK's GDP data for January 2024 will be released. The country's economy is expected to show growth of 0.2%, reversing a decline of -0.1% in December, which would confirm Jeremy Hunt's optimism. No other significant macroeconomic statistics regarding the UK economy are scheduled for release next week.

USD/JPY: A Great Week for the Yen

If the past week was very good for the pound, it was simply great for the Japanese yen. USD/JPY reached a local minimum of 146.47 on the evening of Friday, 8 March, meaning the yen reclaimed more than 360 points from the dollar.

In addition to the weakening of the dollar, the yen was bolstered by rumours that the Bank of Japan (BoJ) may soon decide to normalize its monetary policy. Citing informed sources, Reuters reported that "if the results of the spring wage negotiations [on 13 March] are strong, the Bank of Japan may not have to wait until April" to exit its negative interest rate policy, and that the BoJ "is leaning towards ending negative rates as early as March."

Another report by Jiji News mentioned that "the Bank of Japan is considering a new quantitative framework for its monetary policy, which will outline the prospects for future government bond purchases." "The Bank of Japan," Jiji continues, "will review its Yield Curve Control (YCC) as part of considering a new quantitative policy.".

Thus, Wednesday, 13 March, could become a significant day for the Japanese currency, as could 19 March, when the next meeting of the Bank of Japan is scheduled. It's possible the regulator might increase the interest rate on this day for the first time since 2016. However, analysts at the French Natixis Bank believe that if there is an increase, it would be very slight. "In reality, the depreciation of the yen is beneficial for the Japanese economy," the bank's analysts write. "It helps to bring inflation back to the 2% target and stimulates exports. Since Japan has very significant net foreign assets, primarily in dollars and euros, a depreciation of the yen leads to a capital gain in yen value of these external assets." "As a result," Natixis concludes, "one should not expect Japan to move to a tighter monetary policy. At most, a symbolic increase in the base rate can be expected."

Commerzbank holds a similar position, believing that the yen's potential is limited, and a strong appreciation, especially in the medium and long term, should not be expected. According to Commerzbank economists, this is due to the Bank of Japan's lack of capacity for a pronounced normalization of interest rates.

USD/JPY concluded last week at 147.06. As for the near future, it's impossible to come to a consensus: 20% sided with the bears, an equal 20% with the bulls, and 60% remained undecided. Among the oscillators on the D1 chart, only 15% are coloured in green, while the remaining 85% are in red, with 40% indicating an oversold condition. The distribution of strength among trend indicators is exactly the same: 85% to 15% in favour of the reds. The nearest support levels are found at 146.50, 145.90, 144.90-145.30, 143.40-143.75, 142.20, and 140.25-140.60. Resistance levels and zones are located at 147.65, 148.25-148.40, 149.20, 150.00, 150.85, 151.55-152.00, and 153.15.

In the upcoming week's calendar, noteworthy events include the announcement of Japan's Q4 2023 GDP volume on Monday, 11 March. Additionally, as previously mentioned, the wage negotiations on 13 March are of significant interest. No other major events related to the Japanese economy are planned for the near future.

CRYPTOCURRENCIES: Two Historic Records in One Week

In less than 24 hours on 4 March, bitcoin appreciated by approximately 10% and reached the mark of $69,016. This was a new (but not the last) historical record, surpassing the previous one of $68,917 set on 10 November 2021. Most top-10 crypto assets also saw a 10-30% increase in value over the week.

This surge in bitcoin is attributed to purchases by a supposed billionaire from Qatar, who flew in on his private jet to Madeira for the three-day Bitcoin Atlantis conference. Keychainx CEO Robert Rodin wrote that he saw something at Madeira airport that "could forever change bitcoin." BTC maximalist Max Keiser, in turn, shared a video in which the President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, greets the Emir of Qatar with the words "It's happening!"

What exactly Rodin and Bukele meant is unknown. However, this was enough to fuel discussions about Qatar adding bitcoins to its balance sheet. The accuracy of such claims is unproven, but social networks are abuzz with speculation on this matter. It's worth noting that rumours about one or two sovereign wealth funds or investment companies from the Middle East secretly buying up bitcoins have been circulating for several months.

Following the update of its historical high, bitcoin then plunged, dropping to $59,107 on 5 March, with forced liquidations on the futures market reaching $1 billion. However, this dip was short-lived as whales bought up much of the supply, not only returning the market to its previous dynamics but also setting a new record: on 8 March, the leading cryptocurrency reached $69,972. This is largely because most market participants anticipate its continued growth, surpassing at least the $100,000 mark.

According to trader Gareth Soloway, the upcoming bitcoin halving in April does not guarantee by itself that the digital gold will reach the mentioned size. Soloway identifies the monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve as the deciding factor. The Fed's reluctance to aggressively cut interest rates could support high inflation, potentially contributing to bitcoin's upward trend. "If we see an increase in liquidity (which will definitely happen), then bitcoin will rise to $100,000 in 2024," writes Soloway. However, on its way to this round figure, the trader does not rule out a short-term bearish correction.

Experts at JPMorgan also discuss the possibility that the halving could trigger a sharp decrease in the price of the first cryptocurrency. The algorithmic reduction of the reward from 6.25 BTC to 3.125 BTC will decrease mining profitability. Based on this, economists at JPMorgan, led by senior analyst Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, predict that the price will fall to $42,000 after the halving. "The cost of mining bitcoin empirically acts as a floor for its price," their report states. "After the halving, this metric will be $42,000." "This is also the level towards which, in our view, the price will gravitate once the post-halving euphoria subsides in April," note JPMorgan's experts.

According to the well-known Stock-to-Flow (S2F) model, the primary cryptocurrency has transitioned from the accumulation phase to the growth phase. The accumulation phase is characterized by a relatively smooth price increase, low volatility, and moderate corrections, with the maximum drawdown in the concluded cycle not exceeding 22%. The growth phase presents a different picture. Historical data shows that during movements towards new highs, drawdowns ranged from 36% to 71%. JPMorgan has predicted a drop in bitcoin to $42,000. At the current price, this correction would be approximately 36-40%, aligning with the lower end of the specified range. A 70% correction, however, could lead to a significantly deeper fall.

How could this happen? Initially, to stay afloat, miners, whose incomes will be halved, will begin to sell off their stocks. Then, institutional and short-term speculators, looking to lock in profits, will join in. Concurrently, stop orders will start to trigger, leading to an avalanche-like plunge in quotations. And if investors who have put their money into spot BTC-ETFs also join this "crypto-fall", the depth of the drop could be hard to imagine. It's worth noting that in January-February, BTC-ETFs attracted 75% of all investments in the main cryptocurrency, and there are no guarantees that panic sentiment won't affect the depositors of these funds.

However deep the correction might be, bitcoin, in the opinion of many experts, will still remain within the long-term upward trend. "We have entered the era of the bitcoin gold rush. It started in January 2024 and will last approximately until November 2034," believes MicroStrategy's founder Michael Saylor. According to his calculations, by that time, miners will have extracted 99% of all coins, marking the beginning of the "growth phase." (According to BitcoinTreasuries, 93.5% has already been mined as of now).

Saylor believes that currently, only 10-20% of asset managers are interested in spot BTC-ETFs. In the future, as existing barriers are removed, this figure will approach 100%. "When they [managers] can buy BTC through a bank, platform, or prime broker, they'll spend $50 million in an hour," he stated. The founder of MicroStrategy also expressed confidence that "there will come a day when bitcoin will surpass gold and will be traded more than the S&P 500 ETFs."

In the next 15 years, bitcoin could appreciate 64 times to reach $10.63 million. This forecast was made by Professor Giovanni Santostasi based on a power-law model. According to the scientist, this model provides a clear and predictable scenario for the price change of the first cryptocurrency over long periods. However, over shorter spans, which the media primarily focus on, the quotations behave chaotically. Unlike the S2F model by the analyst known as PlanB, the power law is logarithmic, not exponential. In other words, the price of bitcoin is not expected to constantly increase over time. According to Santostasi's calculations, digital gold will peak at $210,000 in January 2026, then drop to $60,000, and after that, it will continue its wave-like growth to $10.63 million.

(For reference: A power-law relationship is a mathematical relationship between two quantities where a relative change in one quantity leads to a proportional relative change in the other, regardless of the initial values of those quantities. The manifestation of this law can be found across a wide range of natural phenomena, from the frequency of earthquakes to the dynamics of stock market changes.).

As of the evening of Friday, 8 March, BTC/USD is trading at around $68,100. The Crypto Fear & Greed Index has slightly risen from 80 to 81 points, entering the Extreme Greed zone. The total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies stands at $2.60 trillion (up from $2.34 trillion a week ago), with the main cryptocurrency's dominance index at nearly 52%, and its capitalization exceeding $1.35 trillion. This surpasses the fiat currency market capitalizations of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the UAE, Mexico, and many other countries. A few days ago, BTC surpassed the Russian ruble in capitalization, taking the 14th spot in the overall ranking of the largest currencies, with the Swiss franc as its nearest competitor. Amid news that bitcoin exceeded the rouble, jokes flooded the internet suggesting Vladimir Putin is Satoshi Nakamoto. Ethereum ranked 28th, performing better than the Chilean peso but not as well as the Turkish lira.

In the overall ranking of the most capitalized assets, which includes precious metals and companies, bitcoin secured the 10th place. It surpassed Berkshire Hathaway, the company of well-known cryptocurrency critic billionaire Warren Buffett, but did not reach Meta. The top 3 are currently occupied by gold, Microsoft, and Apple.

NordFX Analytical Group

Notice: These materials are not investment recommendations or guidelines for working in financial markets and are intended for informational purposes only. Trading in financial markets is risky and can result in a complete loss of deposited funds.

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