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US Dollar, Major Currencies Brace for Volatility as Trump Speaks

The Australian Dollar traded higher in overnight trade, with prices tracking S&P 500 futures upward. The move may reflect pre-positioning ahead of a much-anticipated speech from Donald Trump. The US President is due to address a joint session of Congress tomorrow, with markets hoping at last to hear some concrete details about the administration’s economic program
posted onMarch 1, 2017

The billionaire’s surprise victory in last year’s presidential election stoked risk appetite amid hopes that an increase in infrastructure spending, a corporate tax cut and deregulation will boost firms’ earnings. Within that context, the Aussie’s move may reflect the markets’ hope that this so-called “Trump trade” will find fresh momentum if the President finally offers some tangible specifics.

Investors seemed hardly of one mind about what Mr Trump’s speech will amount to however. A key part of the “Trump trade” narrative sees expansionary fiscal policy stoking inflation, pushing the Fed into a steep rate hike cycle. This means optimism about what the White House will unveil ought to have sent the US Dollar higher overnight, yet it edged downward.

Also of note, the anti-risk Yen advanced as Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index retreated from intraday highs. Regional shares managed to eke out paltry gains but the mood seems far from rosy, with worries about tomorrow’s reemergence of the Trump administration’s fiery rhetoric about trade and exchange rate policy perhaps at play.

If anything seems all but certain, it is that the President’s words will move markets. Indeed, one-week implied option volatility readings rose across the G10 FX space in Asia. A quiet European economic calendar offers little to divert traders’ attention away from Washington, DC. Another busy day on the Fed-speak front and a revised set of fourth-quarter US GDP figures may be likewise overlooked.