NordFX Weekly Forecast

Forex and Cryptocurrencies Forecast for March 18 - 22, 2024

Publish date: Sat, 16 Mar 2024, 09:33 AM
Forex Forecast and Cryptocurrency Forecast form NordFX

EUR/USD: Stubborn Inflation Refuses to Back Down

Market participants last week were keenly focused on inflation data from the US. The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting of the Federal Reserve is scheduled for Wednesday, 20 March, and these figures will undoubtedly influence the Committee's decision on interest rates. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell recently stated that more evidence of a sustainable slowdown in inflation would be necessary to start cutting rates. However, it appears that such evidence is lacking. Data released on Tuesday, 12 March, showed that prices, instead of decreasing, have been on the rise.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), excluding food and energy, was expected to increase by 0.3% but actually rose by 0.4% month-on-month. Year-on-year, inflation in February increased by 3.8%, slightly above the forecast of 3.7%. The overall CPI showed a monthly increase of 0.4% and an annual rise of 3.2%. Thus, the overall CPI has increased by 4.2% on an annual basis over the last three months, marking the highest level since June of the previous year. Certainly, this surge in inflation is not a cause for panic, but it is too early to declare a complete victory over it, for which the Fed raised rates to the highest level in 40 years.

Additional arguments for the Federal Reserve to refrain from hastily cutting rates emerged on Thursday, 14 March. It was found that industrial inflation, measured by the Producer Price Index (PPI), increased from 0.3% to 0.6% month-on-month, against market expectations of 0.3%. Against this backdrop, the yield on 10-year US Treasury bonds sharply increased, providing support to the dollar.

Beyond CPI and PPI, there's a third argument in favour of maintaining the Federal Reserve's tight monetary policy: the labour market, which remains relatively robust. Despite the highest unemployment rate increase in two years (from 3.7% to 3.9%), the number of new jobs created outside of the agricultural sector (NonFarm Payrolls) reached 275K, significantly exceeding both the previous figure of 229K and the forecast of 198K. Additionally, real wages continued to grow year-on-year in February.

Against the backdrop mentioned above, the euro faced pressure last week. Moderately dovish statements from officials at the European Central Bank (ECB) did not provide any relief. On Thursday, the bank's chief economist, Philip Lane, in an interview with CNBC, stated that wages are moving in the right direction. However, he added, the EU's monetary authorities avoid giving clear forecasts regarding further steps and must make decisions at each specific meeting.

According to Peter Kazimir, a member of the ECB's Governing Council and head of the National Bank of Slovakia, it would be wise to wait until June for the first rate cut. "Rushing this step is unwise and disadvantageous," he said. "Upside risks to inflation are alive and well. More convincing data on inflation prospects are needed. [And] only in June will we reach the threshold of confidence in this matter." "But the discussion on easing should start now," added the head of the National Bank of Slovakia.

Olli Rehn, a member of the ECB's Governing Council and head of the Bank of Finland, spoke similarly. He confirmed the start of discussions on reducing the restrictive aspect of the bank's monetary policy. When asked about the appropriate time to begin rate cuts, he carefully replied, "If inflation continues to decline, it would be possible to gradually start lifting the foot off the monetary policy brake pedal."

The preliminary Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, published on 15 March, showed a slight decrease to 76.5 from the previous value and forecast of 76.9. Following this, EUR/USD ended the working week at 1.0886. As for the near-term outlook, as of the evening of Friday, 15 March, 75% of experts voted for a strengthening dollar and a decline in the pair, with 15% siding with the euro and 10% taking a neutral stance. Oscillator readings on the D1 are evenly distributed: one-third are coloured green, one-third red, and one-third neutral grey. Trend indicators' force ratio is such: 35% recommend selling the pair, while 65% recommend buying it. The nearest support for the pair is located in the zone of 1.0845-1.0865, followed by 1.0800, then 1.0725, 1.0680-1.0695, 1.0620, 1.0495-1.0515, and 1.0450. Resistance zones are found at 1.0920, 1.0965-1.0980, 1.1015, 1.1050, 1.1100-1.1140, and 1.1230-1.1275.

In the coming week, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) value for the Eurozone will be released on Monday, 18 March. However, as the ECB meeting has already taken place, this indicator is unlikely to provoke a strong market reaction. The main event of the week, as mentioned, will be the Federal Reserve's FOMC meeting on Wednesday, 20 March. It is expected to be the fifth consecutive meeting where the federal funds rate remains unchanged at 5.50%. The greatest interest for economists and investors will likely lie in the subsequent Federal Reserve leadership press conference, where they hope to hear hints about the start date for monetary policy easing. Currently, according to CME FedWatch, there is a 40% chance that the reduction will begin in June.

Apart from these events, a comprehensive package of data on business activity (PMI) across various sectors of the economy in the US, Germany, and the Eurozone, set to be released on Thursday, 21 March, also presents interest. On the same day, traditional data on the number of initial unemployment claims in the US will be published.

GBP/USD: More Negatives than Positives for the Pound

Last week, the dollar was recovering from the losses it suffered in the first ten days of March. On one hand, GBP/USD was pressured by rising inflation in the US, and on the other hand, by weak macroeconomic statistics from the United Kingdom. Data published on Tuesday, 12 March, confirmed the cooling of the country's labour market. In January, employment decreased by 21K (against a forecasted increase of 10K), and the unemployment rate rose from 3.8% to 3.9% (forecasted at 3.8%). Additionally, the number of claims for unemployment benefits sharply increased from 3.1K in January to 16.8K in February. Meanwhile, the wage growth of UK workers slowed down, marking the slowest pace since 2022.

Market participants' pessimism increased on Wednesday, 13 March. It was revealed that although the country's GDP grew by 0.2% in January, industrial production fell from +0.6% to -0.2% month-on-month and from +0.6% to +0.5% year-on-year. The manufacturing sector saw an even sharper decline, from +0.8% to 0.0% month-on-month and from +2.3% to +2.0% year-on-year.

All these data strengthen the likelihood of the Bank of England (BoE) soon shifting to a more dovish monetary policy. Some estimates suggest this could happen as early as May. If data from the United Kingdom continue to worsen, the probability of a pound interest rate cut in the coming months will only increase, pushing GBP/USD further down.

"GBP/USD could fall as the UK continues to stagnate and the Bank of England finally begins to cut rates," analysts at the French bank Societe Generale believe. Economists at the Dutch Rabobank also see potential for significant strengthening of the dollar against the British currency over a 1 to 3-month horizon. However, Rabobank forecasts that the interest rate differential, signs of improvement in the UK's economic outlook, combined with the prospect of uneventful elections in the country and a relatively stable political backdrop, should provide moderate support to the pound. "We believe," the bank's economists write, "that over a 12-month perspective, GBP/USD will recover to the 1.3000 area.".

The pair closed the week at 1.2734. Analyst opinions on its near-term direction were divided as follows: a majority (65%) voted for a decline, 20% for an increase, and 15% remained neutral. Among the D1 oscillators, 40% point north, only 10% south, and 50% east. Trend indicators have 65% looking upwards and 35% in the opposite direction. Should the pair move southward, it will encounter support levels and zones at 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 move, resistance will be met at levels 1.2755, 1.2820, 1.2880-1.2900, 1.2940, 1.3000, and 1.3140.

In addition to the Federal Reserve's FOMC meeting, the upcoming week will also feature a meeting of the Bank of England, scheduled for Thursday, 21 March. The day before, we will learn about the inflation situation (CPI) in the United Kingdom, and just before the BoE meeting, preliminary data on business activity (PMI) in the country will be released. The workweek will conclude with the publication of retail sales data in the United Kingdom.

USD/JPY: What to Expect from the Bank of Japan


The upcoming week, on Tuesday, 19 March, will also see a meeting of the Bank of Japan (BoJ). Consequently, speculation regarding an imminent shift in the regulator's monetary policy is mounting. Analysts at TD Securities have shifted their forecast for a yen rate hike from April to March. "Following a positive round of wage negotiations, we believe the Bank of Japan has the necessary information to raise the rate at next week's meeting," they write. TD Securities expects that if the rate is increased, such a move away from NIRP could easily push USD/JPY to 145.00. However, if the BoJ does not do so but attempts to sound hawkish, hinting at the possibility of a policy reversal in April, the pair might rise, but only slightly – to 150.00.

Rabobank analysts also discussed the potential tone of the Bank of Japan's statements. "If the Bank of Japan exits its negative interest rate policy on 19 March, it is likely that rates will only be raised by 10 or 15 basis points (bps)," the Rabobank experts believe. "Furthermore, at best, the Bank of Japan's guidance next week will be cautiously optimistic. It is important to note that even after the negative rate is relegated to economic history, Japan's monetary policy settings will likely remain accommodative." Rabobank does not rule out that a very cautious tone from the BoJ regarding further changes may increase the risk of a "sell the fact" reaction post-19 March. "Nevertheless, despite the risk of a short-term increase in the pair, we continue to see the possibility of USD/JPY declining to 146.00 in a three-month perspective," conclude the Rabobank economists.

Strategists at Standard Chartered echo similar sentiments. Like many of their peers, they anticipate that the Bank of Japan will end its ultra-loose policy in March rather than April. However, in their view, the expected policy adjustment is unlikely to signal the start of an aggressive rate-hiking cycle. The abolition of the negative interest rate policy (NIRP) will not alter the negative yield differential with other countries. Nonetheless, the potential cessation of yield curve control (YCC) should ultimately be positive for the yen, especially if the Federal Reserve and the ECB start cutting rates from June. In this scenario, Standard Chartered strategists believe that by the end of Q2 2024, USD/JPY could fall to 145.00.

Economists at ING, the largest banking group in the Netherlands, have repeatedly emphasized that a sustainable rally in the yen is more dependent on cuts in the Federal Reserve's rates than on rate hikes by the Bank of Japan. "We still believe that it will be difficult for the yen to sustainably strengthen beyond the volatility surrounding the rate hike until rates in the US are reduced. This remains our base scenario for this year," they write.

Societe Generale analysts are notably optimistic about the Japanese yen in their forecasts. They believe the yen is the only G7 currency likely to significantly appreciate against the US dollar this year. Even if the Bank of Japan's steps away from negative interest rates and yield curve control on 19 March are fairly symbolic, the yen is still expected to strengthen, as it is currently considered undervalued.

Throughout the past week, USD/JPY, buoyed by a strengthening dollar, rose and concluded at 149.05. Looking ahead, whereas a majority of analysts sided with the dollar in EUR/USD and GBP/USD, the situation here is reversed – in anticipation of a historic move by the Bank of Japan, 65% of experts leaned towards the bearish side for the pair, with 35% remaining undecided. No votes were cast in favour of the American currency. Technical analysis tools seem unaware of the Bank of Japan's meeting, which is why only 35% of D1 oscillators favoured the yen, 25% favoured the dollar, and 40% remained neutral. Trend indicators show a clear advantage for the dollar – 90% are coloured green, and only 10% red. The nearest support levels are located at 148.40, 147.60, 146.50, 145.90, 144.90-145.30, 143.40-143.75, 142.20, 140.25-140.60. Resistance levels and zones are at 150.00, 150.85, 151.55-152.00, 153.15.

Apart from the Bank of Japan meeting, no other significant events related to the Japanese economy are scheduled for the coming days. Traders should also note that Wednesday, 20 March, is a public holiday in Japan: the country observes the Vernal Equinox Day.

CRYPTOCURRENCIES: Riding the Wave of FOMO to New Historical Highs

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is currently the dominant sentiment in the market, driving the leading cryptocurrency to new heights. Another record was set on Thursday, 14 March, when BTC/USD reached $73,743.

Following the approval of spot bitcoin ETFs in the US earlier this year, demand for the flagship crypto asset has significantly outstripped the daily supply of bitcoin mined by miners. The halving, scheduled for the third decade of April, will only intensify this imbalance. Despite these two drivers remaining on the agenda, their endless discussion has started to weary market participants. As a result, the focus has shifted towards issues of the global economy, the Federal Reserve's monetary policy, and the upcoming presidential elections in the US.

Starting with the potential Presidents of the United States, specifically what could happen if the White House is won by one of the two main contenders. Former US President and Republican Party leader Donald Trump emphasized the importance of the American national currency in a CNBC interview, comparing a departure from the dollar standard to defeat. At the same time, he stated he would not interfere with the use of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies if he wins the elections in November. "If you think about it, it's an additional form of currency," Trump said. "[Bitcoin] is widely used, and I'm not sure I'd want to give it up right now," the politician added. However, when asked by the host if he himself invests in cryptocurrency, the former (and potentially future) president answered negatively.

Regarding the current White House occupant, a study conducted by Pierre Rochard, Vice President of Riot, is of interest. He assessed the US budget for 2025, proposed by Joe Biden's team, and concluded that Democrats are expecting BTC to reach $250,000 over a decade – by 2034-2035. This is suggested by the taxes laid out by the White House in the budget. However, the expert clarified that the document, of course, does not contain direct indications of this price. Conclusions are made based on the assessment of potential profit from taxes and regulation of the cryptocurrency market.

Discussing the US economy, former Coinbase CTO and a16z general partner Balaji Srinivasan writes, "We are in the phase of looting the treasury amidst the collapse of an empire. Bitcoin is the only available salvation from inflation and potential asset confiscation in the US, which could occur due to the unsustainable trajectory of government spending." According to Srinivasan's calculations, the US national debt has reached a record $34.5 trillion, increasing by 25% since 2020, and continues to grow by $1 trillion every 90 days. The US government spends $10 billion more daily than it receives. Given this, the former Coinbase CTO did not rule out that as the "financial reckoning" for such behaviour approaches, the "insatiable state" might consider the possibility of confiscating private assets.

"Private property will not be protected by the state in a bankrupt blue [Democratic] America. Any blockchain under Washington's control is vulnerable. Fortunately, we have digital gold. It is independent of the state and cannot be confiscated. Bitcoin maximalism will win. It will save us from state budgeting," believes the former CTO of Coinbase. He declined to specify when the "reckoning" would occur but reminded that Ray Dalio, Elon Musk, Larry Fink, and Stanley Druckenmiller have previously announced the inevitability of such a scenario.

Analysts at Matrixport, sharing Balaji Srinivasan's optimism about the global future of bitcoin, also suggest that a risk-reward analysis indicates that the coin's quotes may soon undergo a correction. "This bull market still has legs," Matrixport believes, "but the divergence between the decreasing RSI and high BTC prices could signal that bitcoin needs to consolidate before it can start rising in price again."

Investor and founder of MN Trading, Michael Van De Poppe, believes a market pullback of 20-30% is quite possible in the near term. He also noted that he has high expectations for altcoins, which have yet to reach record highs.

Raoul Pal, the founder of the investment company Real Vision, predicted the potential performance of bitcoin, ETH, and SOL. He suggested that the target mark for bitcoin in the foreseeable future is $250,000 per coin. The first cryptocurrency may exceed this projected level due to high demand for spot bitcoin ETFs. The upcoming April halving is also expected to increase demand for this cryptocurrency.

Raoul Pal is also bullish on Ethereum. Thanks to the utility of smart contracts, the value of this altcoin could rise to $17,000-$20,000. Currently, ETH is trading around $4,000, but unlike bitcoin, it has not yet surpassed its record – in November 2021, Ethereum reached a level of $4,856. The Real Vision founder believes that the altcoin's growth could be influenced by a strong correlation with bitcoin, anticipation of the launch of spot ETH ETFs, and the Dencun update.

The specialist forecasts that the price of Solana could range from $700 to $1,000, as the high performance of the blockchain will increase demand for this coin. In early November 2021, SOL reached a peak mark of $260, and the coin still has plenty of growth opportunities.

Last week, much attention was also paid to miners, not just individually, but in conjunction with the American economy. Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital, called bitcoin mining one of the reasons for inflation and the fall of the US dollar. "The rise in bitcoin prices leads to an increase in mining and energy consumption, raising the latter's cost and causing inflation and the dollar's decline. This stimulates demand for bitcoin, its mining, and energy consumption. The cycle continues, bitcoin goes into infinity, energy prices skyrocket, the economy collapses," the billionaire described his scenario, adding that this relationship "works both ways."

Taking an opposite viewpoint was another influencer – the aforementioned Pierre Rochard from Riot. He believes that the mining industry could experience exponential 10-fold growth, thanks to the active development of the US market and the country's surplus of electricity. His scenario does not foresee an economic collapse and sky-high energy prices.

Time will tell which of these experts is correct. However, according to analysts at Bernstein, mining company stocks remain the best proxy investments in bitcoin as the cryptocurrency moves towards the target mark of $150,000. In a note to clients, they point out that historically, miners' quotes have almost always outperformed bitcoin in terms of growth rate during a bull market. Since we are in the middle of the current cycle, every "weakness window" for digital gold miners is, in the experts' opinion, an opportunity to buy their stocks.

Bernstein claims that retail investors currently dominate this segment, while institutional investors largely avoid "bitcoin-proxy" investments, as they remain sceptical about cryptocurrencies. However, as the asset grows to new highs, analysts expect this category of investors' interest in miners' stocks to awaken and grow.

At the beginning of spring, bitcoin surpassed the Russian rouble in market capitalization and occupied the 14th position in the overall ranking of the largest currencies. Just a few days later, on 11 March 2024, bitcoin made another leap – rising above $72,000 per coin, it surpassed silver in market capitalization. The first cryptocurrency moved to the eighth spot in the ranking of the largest assets by this measure, crossing the $1.4 trillion mark.

As of the writing of this review, on the evening of Friday, 15 March, after traders took profits, BTC/USD is trading around $68,200. The total market capitalization of the crypto market stands at $2.58 trillion ($2.60 trillion a week ago). The Crypto Fear & Greed Index has risen from 81 to 83 points and is in the Extreme Greed zone. (It's worth noting that the historical maximum for this index was recorded at 95 points during the Bull Rally at the end of 2020).

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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