ECB Decision: Stimulus Change Would Be Premature

Dear Traders,

It’s ECB decision day and the euro trends slightly lower against the U.S. dollar ahead of the event risk. Meanwhile, the dollar received some support by an unexpectedly robust ADP employment report which nearly doubled the 185K forecast, lifting estimates for tomorrow’s non-farm payrolls report. A Fed rate increase is therefore priced in as a near-certainty. However as certain as next week’s FOMC rate decision seems, the tightening cycle in subsequent meetings has not accelerated. Hence, the greenback seems to be unimpressed by the hawkish outlook.

Euro traders will pay close attention to comments from European Central Bank president Mario Draghi. The bar is high and investors are looking for clues as to whether the conditions are right for a stimulus change. However the central bank is not expected to signal any change in policy today as policy makers will keep QE probably going until the end of the year. Even with euro-zone inflation at 2 percent for the first time in four years, Draghi is expected to maintain a dovish bias for the time being. The ECB must very cautiously reduce the level of current stimulus and it will therefore seek to avoid unnecessary turmoil. Nevertheless, inflation forecasts are expected to be revised higher for 2017 and 2018, which is why some market indicators point to the possibility of a rate hike in 2018.

The ECB’s decision will be announced at 12:45 UTC, followed by the ECB press conference 45 minutes later.

As usual, traders should prepare for volatile swings around the time of the press conference. Technically, the euro’s downtrend remains intact with the focus being on a next lower target at 1.0515/10. The 1.05-support level could lend a strong support to the euro which is why traders should also consider possible pullbacks in short-term time frames. A current resistance is seen at 1.0550, a level where sellers might jump back in. If the euro breaks however above 1.0575 we may see further gains towards 1.0640 and possibly even 1.0670. A break below 1.0490 could increase bearish momentum towards 1.0390.

The pound sterling extended its losses against the greenback and dropped to a low of 1.2139. We still anticipate some corrections in short-term time frames, sending the pound higher towards 1.23 and possibly even 1.24. On the bottom side there is a crucial support area ranging from 1.21 to 1.20. The pound may have difficulty to break that support zone ahead of the trigger of Article 50. No date has yet been fixed for the potential Brexit trigger, which is supposed to take place before the end of March.

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