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The focus now shifts to the U.S. dollar. Non-farm payrolls are scheduled for release tomorrow and ahead of this key event there was very little consistency in the performance of the dollar. The greenback traded lower against JPY, AUD, NZD and CAD but moved higher versus EUR, GBP and CHF. After the strong increase in June, there’s no doubt that job growth slowed in July and the big question is by how much. Economists are currently calling for job growth around 180K and any reading greater than 200K will be positive for the dollar as long as the unemployment rate improves and average hourly earnings rise as expected. Any miss in the headline or underlying components will send the dollar tumbling lower.
While the leading indicators for non-farm payrolls point to a decline, the number may not be that bad. The 4 week moving average of jobless claims declined, continuing claims are lower, Challenger Grey and Christmas reported a sharp drop in job cuts and corporate payrolls increased slightly according to ADP. Although the employment component of non-manufacturing and manufacturing ISM declined, the dip was small and consistent with the drop in payrolls already forecasted. Consumer confidence is also down marginally according to the Conference Board’s survey, leaving the only major deterioration reported by the University of Michigan. There’s no doubt that the U.S. economy is outperforming its peers, which should make U.S. assets and the U.S. dollar more attractive in comparison. For these reasons and the fact that Japan’s big event risks are over, we anticipate a stronger recovery in USD/JPY.