With the holiday season lingering on and a new year on the cusp of arrival, traders may glance at the calendar and notice there is not much economic news to anticipate on Friday to cap off a light week. In situations like these where there can be lulls in bullish and bearish momentum due to a lack of fundamental catalysts, it can be helpful to remember that abstaining from trading is often its own discipline. With this in mind, let’s consider three ways traders can be productive during bouts of time where financial markets may not yield many trade setups. After all, the art of not trading is hard to navigate, but is essential for remaining profitable.
This may seem obvious or cliché at face value; however, guaranteeing meaningful rest for yourself is of the utmost importance when it comes to excelling in any skill. Just as athletes and manual laborers need rest days so that their muscles can adequately repair, time off from purely mental activities like trading is crucial for avoiding burnout and preventing recklessness. Besides simply making an effort to spend time away from the trading environment, ensuring a certain quality of rest can be quite helpful as well. Whether that means indulging in some extra sleep, spending time with old friends, exercising at the gym, or making time for an often-neglected hobby, good rest takes many forms for everyone. Whatever that happens to be for you, fitting restfulness into your lifestyle truly is an aspect of healthy trading, not a departure from it.
Because trading is a game of risk management and probabilities, setting aside time for pouring over historical data can be of great benefit when it comes to exploring a strategy. Whether you are considering implementing a brand-new approach or polishing a formula you judge to be tried-and-true, subjecting any strategy to backtesting is always time well spent. For those interested in learning more about how to backtest, feel free to watch this video and much more from A1 Trading’s YouTube channel, and explore a selection of Metatrader Trading Software offered here.
It often appears to be the case that many retail traders fall into the trap of over-relying on technical analysis over fundamental analysis. While reading charts and utilizing technical indicators can be incredibly helpful, it is important to remember that currencies, equities, and commodities are real things with actual value, and that their worth is not reducible to patterns on a screen. Investing your time in conducting fundamental analysis, such as reading up on the economic performance of the host country of a currency you trade or keeping up with news about the geopolitical tensions influencing a commodity’s availability, can be illuminating. By making an effort to understand the nuances of a particular currency pair or other asset, you may find that your biases as a trader grow more nuanced as well. For those interested in using a market scanner that offers supplemental fundamental analysis, the EdgeFinder is fantastic.
As the fiscal year comes to a close, consumers will likely finish shopping for the holidays, and traders and investors will get some respite thanks to a long weekend due to bank holidays around the world. While concerns about further stock market selloffs may be lingering in the minds of some, a promising set of assets is likely flying under most retail traders’ radar: Kiwi Dollar pairs. NZD has retained incredible strength in recent months, owed primarily to a remarkable New Zealand economy and a hawkish central bank; despite few bits of recent or upcoming news that could become fundamental catalysts, the New Zealand Dollar remains highly esteemed by the EdgeFinder. As we consider trade setups for the near future, it is worth asking: could NZD currently be the best currency to buy?
Three Pairs to Watch
According to the EdgeFinder, which provides nuanced supplemental analysis for traders, some of the pairs that earn the strongest biases are still NZD pairs. For those who are bullish on the Kiwi Dollar and interested in finding potential trade setups, the following pairs are well worth monitoring. They are listed below in order of signal strength, along with their respective ratings, signals/biases, and corresponding charts.
1) GBP/NZD - Earns an ‘-9’ Rating, or a ‘Strong Sell’ Signal
2) AUD/NZD - Earns an ‘-8’ Rating, or a ‘Strong Sell’ Signal
3) NZD/CAD - Earns an ‘5’ Rating, or a ‘Buy’ Signal
Fresh on the heels of today’s surprisingly low inflation data for the United States, all eyes will be on the big Fed decision ahead. Tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm ET, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC; the policy-making body within the Federal Reserve) will reveal their latest increase in the Federal Funds Rate, along with a corresponding statement and a new set of economic projections for the next two years (including interest rate forecasts). Following this, at 2:30 pm ET Fed Chair Jerome Powell will speak at the FOMC press conference, where he will answer questions regarding monetary policy strategy, economic outlook, and more. All these events are likely to cause a great deal of volatility across financial markets, especially as equities investors eagerly await a slower rate hike pace.
With a 50 basis point rate hike forecast for tomorrow, instead of another brutal 75 basis point hike like those that have been implemented consecutively the past several times, traders and analysts will be on the lookout for more signals regarding a further pivot away from hawkishness. They may feel further emboldened in this search in light of the latest CPI data released this morning, showcasing another month of slowing inflation, bolstering stock market optimism and reducing US Dollar bullishness. However, whether evidence for this narrative continues to build has yet to be seen: there is still the chance that the FOMC could further upwardly revise interest rate forecasts while slowing the pace, which would not be quite as bullish for stocks and bearish for USD as it may seem.
Three Indices to Watch
In yesterday’s article we discussed three pairs to monitor for those who are bullish on USD; they remain worth checking on for potential trade setups this week. Today, however, let’s examine three stock market indices worth watching for those who may be anticipating a fundamental catalyst related to potential Fed dovishness tomorrow. Though two receive neutral signals, the EdgeFinder currently offers positive ratings for all three listed below, as can be seen among their respective ratings, signals/biases, and corresponding charts.
1) US30 (Dow Jones) - Earns a ‘3’ Rating, or a ‘Buy’ Signal
2) SPX500 (S&P 500) - Earns a ‘2’ Rating, or a ‘Neutral’ Signal
3) NAS100 (Nasdaq-100) - Earns a ‘2’ Rating, or a ‘Neutral’ Signal
Tomorrow morning at 8:30 am ET, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to release the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for the month of November. Widely considered a proxy for inflation, the rate at which CPI increases will help the American public and the Federal Reserve discern how much of a threat high inflation continues to pose. Month-over-month CPI is forecast to slow to a 0.3% increase, while month-over-month Core CPI (which excludes volatile food and energy prices) is anticipated to clock in at 0.3% as well. If the real numbers exceed these expectations, this would be bullish news for USD and bearish news for stock market indices, whereas the inverse would be true if the numbers come in smaller. This is because hotter inflation data gives the Fed further incentive to raise interest rates to cool the economy, which strengthens the Greenback while diminishing demand for stocks. With the Fed’s next rate hike and press conference coming just two days from now, we must issue a warning: US CPI tomorrow is just the beginning for major pairs and equities.
Three Pairs to Watch
Considering that the latest Producer Price Index data released last week was quite bullish for USD, it seems plausible that tomorrow's CPI updates could yield similar results. With this in mind, for those interested in going long on USD, here are three potential pairs to watch for trade setups. While the EdgeFinder, A1 Trading’s handy market scanner, is reasonably cautious about some of them, new momentum from a fundamental catalyst could correlate with new biases being generated which are more optimistic for US Dollar bulls. They are listed below with their respective ratings, signals/biases, and corresponding charts.
1) USD/CAD - Earns a ‘6’ Rating, or a ‘Strong Buy’ Signal
2) USD/JPY - Earns a ‘1’ Rating, or a ‘Neutral’ Signal
3) AUD/USD - Earns a ‘-1’ Rating, or a ‘Neutral’ Signal
Between fresh numbers for US PPI and more tomorrow, there is a good chance that forex and equities traders could encounter increased volatility across financial markets. First, at 8:30 am ET on Friday, tomorrow morning, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to release the latest increases for the Producer Price Index (PPI; measures changes in the prices of goods and services sold by producers) and Core PPI (which excludes volatile food and energy prices), both month-over-month. These measurements of inflation are both currently forecast to have risen by 0.2% in the month of November; if the real figures fall short of these expectations, this would be bearish news for USD and bullish news for the US stock market, whereas the inverse would be true if the real PPI numbers exceed these expectations.
Second, at 10 am ET tomorrow, the University of Michigan in the US is going to publish the Preliminary release of their Index of Consumer Sentiment report. Released monthly, the index is based on data regarding the economic confidence of consumers gathered via survey; it acts as an indicator for economic optimism or pessimism, which can have big implications for financial markets. With the index anticipated to hit 56.9 this month, a larger number would signal more consumer optimism, which would be bullish news for USD and bearish for stocks. However, if the report fails to hit these forecasts, this could likely be bearish news for USD and bullish for the stock market. This is because, as with the PPI reports, hotter-than-expected growth and demand could cause the Federal Reserve to lean further into monetary tightening and hawkishness, which would fly in the face of investor hopes as reflected in the recent months’ stock market rally. Regardless of bullish or bearish biases, traders would be wise to keep an eye on these releases, as they may have a significant impact on price action tomorrow.
What Assets to Watch
While the EdgeFinder does not currently view the US Dollar in a particularly favorable light, it has generated one such bullish signal for a major pair. That pair is listed below, along with two assets worth watching for potential trade setups if tomorrow’s news is bearish for USD. They are all listed below with their respective ratings, signals/biases, and corresponding charts.
1) USD/CAD - Earns a ‘5’ Rating, or a ‘Buy’ Signal
2) US30 (Dow Jones) - Earns a ‘4’ Rating, or a ‘Buy’ Signal
3) XAU/USD (Gold) - Earns a ‘2’ Rating, or a ‘Neutral’ Signal
This morning at 8:30 am Eastern Time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed the latest figures for a key measure of inflation in the United States. The Producer Price Index (PPI), which tracks changes in the prices of goods and services sold by producers, was expected to increase by 0.4% month-over-month in October; instead, it only rose by a mild 0.2%. Likewise, Core PPI (which excludes volatile food and energy prices), was forecast to increase by 0.3% month-over-month, but remained static, changing exactly 0% instead. These surprising PPI numbers today offer yet another instance of American inflation dropping following the recent low CPI report, building a bearish case for USD and a bullish one for stock market indices as the need for a hawkish Fed ostensibly lessens. However, I am personally skeptical of this development as many underlying economic fundamentals have not changed, as we will discuss below.
Markets to Watch
My bias remains bullish on USD, and bearish on the US stock market, for three primary reasons: A) None of the crises the world is contending with have evaporated: an energy crisis still looms with winter around the corner, and many markets are still hot with artificial demand following quantitative easing mid-pandemic. B) The Democratic Party in the US, which tends to be seen as a pro-stimulus party, recently outperformed expectations in last week’s midterm elections, which I predicted could create short-term rallies in the stock market (but longer-term bullishness for USD). C) One month’s worth of data on inflation is not enough to mark a trend; October’s low numbers could easily be outliers, perhaps due to tapping into oil reserves to alleviate cost-of-living increases.
For those who remain bullish on USD and anticipate the Fed further hiking interest rates at a historic pace to quell high inflation, the following markets will be key to watch. They are listed below with their respective EdgeFinder ratings, signals/biases (which diverge from mine), and corresponding charts.
1) EUR/USD (Receives a -2, or ‘Neutral’ Signal)
2) US30 (Receives a 4, or ‘Buy’ Signal)
3) USO (Receives a -5, or ‘Sell’ Signal)
This week has been fascinating for financial markets: stock markets have performed quite well despite global interest rate hikes and some disappointing tech earnings in the US, while the US Dollar Index continued to decline from late September’s highs. These movements are perhaps only more surprising considering that key data on the US economy was released both yesterday and today, and the chances of it further emboldening the Fed are plausible. With the Federal Reserve scheduled to adjust the Federal Funds Rate (a key interest rate in the US) on Wednesday next week, and full-blown recession still looming in the minds of investors, it is worth unpacking this fresh data in order to ask: what will the Fed do?
Consideration #1: Surprising GDP Growth
Yesterday morning at 8:30 am Eastern Time, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis released some shocking information. Quarter-over-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the US, a measure of economic output, was estimated to have grown by a whopping 2.6% from July through September, even more impressive than the 2.3% which had been forecasted. This is a welcome respite for a country that had just met the criteria for a technical recession (two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth). However, this remarkably positive growth may leave the Federal Reserve only feeling more at peace with their monetary tightening regiment, since GDP contractions may have kept them somewhat cautious about the severity of their rate hikes.
Consideration #2: High Core PCE Index
This morning at 8:30 am ET, the Bureau of Economic Analysis also released new inflation data. The month-over-month Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Index, which measures the cost of goods and services purchased by consumers (excluding volatile food and energy prices), rose by 0.5%, perfectly meeting market expectations. While not bullish in the sense of exceeding forecasts, context is crucial: not only are these figures high, but they are also identical to last month’s increase. Considering that the Core PCE Index is the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, it seems likely that the FOMC, the Fed’s policy-making committee, could interpret these numbers as an indication that recent rate hikes have been insufficient for quelling inflation.
Consideration #3: High Personal Spending
The Bureau of Economic Analysis also reported higher than expected personal spending this morning, clocking in at 0.6% month-over-month, much higher than the 0.4% forecast. Though not holding the same significance as other indicators and measures of inflation, this increase marks a pattern, with personal spending similarly beating market expectations with a 0.6% increase the previous month. Considering that the intention behind the Fed’s interest rate hikes is to curb consumer demand by limiting borrowing and spending, hot personal spending numbers help indicate that their goals have yet to be realized.
Likelihood of Fed Decisions
In light of these latest developments in economic fundamentals, the odds of continued Fed hawkishness seem only more likely. Between a return to positive economic growth, persistently high changes in core prices, and historically hot labor markets and consumer spending, a 75 basis point rate hike seems all but certain next week. A full 100 basis point hike, while not currently forecasted, may not be off the table either, though they may refrain due to concerns about inflation data as lagging indicators (rendering current data somewhat unreliable for exhaustive Fed decision-making).
Conversely, some analysts are predicting the Fed easing up on their contractionary monetary policy aggression soon. The Employment Cost Index (ECI), administered by the US Department of Labor, revealed that wages in the private sector grew by 1.2% in Q3; though still remarkable, it is a decline from the 1.6% increase in the previous quarter. While these slower increases in pay could theoretically bring core inflation a bit lower soon, these numbers are still incredibly hot. Considering that the Fed has made it clear that they are willing to err on the side of hawkishness for the sake of returning annual inflation to 2% (down from the current rate of 8.2%), the notion that a Fed pivot towards smaller hikes will be coming soon seems rather premature.
Personally, I am anticipating further bouts of Fed hawkishness, and a corresponding return to bullish momentum for USD across major pairs. Likewise, I am expecting that the bear market for equities is not over, and that the recent rally will only make the Fed more comfortable indulging in rate hikes. Regardless, this coming Wednesday’s FOMC Statement and press conference will keep us updated on the Fed’s vision for the near future. The Statement and rate hike will be made known at 2 pm ET on Wednesday, November 2nd, with the press conference immediately to follow. The EdgeFinder, A1 Trading's market scanner which aids traders by providing supplemental analysis, is currently bullish on both USD and the S&P 500.
At 8:30 am ET this morning, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released a new set of shocking Consumer Price Index (CPI; a proxy for inflation) data. Month-over-month CPI and Core CPI (which excludes volatile food and energy prices) both rose far more sharply than expected in September. Month-over-month inflation had been forecast to rise at 0.2%; instead, it jumped by twice that at 0.4%, equating to 8.2% year-over-year. Likewise, core inflation was anticipated to hit 0.4% month-over-month, instead rising by a staggering 0.6%. Though today’s market activity did not reflect as such, this is incredibly bullish news for USD, as it further validates the Federal Reserve’s hawkish agenda, paving the way for more rate hikes. Let’s discuss what today's CPI news means, and several potential options for trading it.
Second Wind for Stocks?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared over 800 points today, or nearly 3%, on the inflation news. There is a chance this could be a bit of a reflexive fluke on the part of institutional traders (due to annual inflation technically decreasing from 8.3%), because current market conditions in the US remain holistically bearish for equities as the Fed slows economic output. However, there is also a possibility that the CPI news made stock traders more optimistic in the short term; after all, the Fed’s continued rate hikes were already all but certain, but consumer spending has evidently remained resilient despite monetary tightening. Thus, it could be the case that we see a stock market rally on a stronger-than-expected economy, however brief it may be.
Even More USD Strength
Similar to a jump scare in a horror movie revealing that the monster isn’t truly dead at the end, high inflation has once again reared its ugly head. The Federal Reserve will almost certainly feel ever more emboldened in their efforts to slow the economy, perhaps now further into the future as well, since Fed Chair Powell has made it clear he wants to err on the side of caution due to lagging indicators. Because USD has primarily surged in value in conjunction with the Fed’s interest rate aggression, it seems likely that demand for the US Dollar will yet again continue en masse.
Four Pairs to Trade
Here are four of the best forex pairs to keep an eye on for USD bulls, according to the EdgeFinder, A1 Trading’s handy market scanner. They are listed below with their respective ratings, signals/biases, and corresponding charts. The US Dollar's strange drop in value today may make for some optimal points of entry for those planning to go long on USD.
1) EUR/USD (Earns a -6, or ‘Strong Sell’ Signal)
2) XAU/USD (Earns a -6, or ‘Strong Sell’ Signal)
3) GBP/USD (Earns a -5, or ‘Sell’ Signal)
4) USD/JPY (Earns a 4, or ‘Buy’ Signal)
Tomorrow morning at 8:30 am Eastern Time, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics will release three key monthly labor data reports: Average Hourly Earnings (month-over-month), Non-Farm Employment Change/Payrolls (NFP), and the new US unemployment rate. These three measures of nationwide labor market activity, and NFP in particular, have tremendous market-moving potential as fundamental catalysts. This likelihood of volatility across financial markets warrants a warning: NFP is nearly here.
Currently, markets are forecasting an 0.3% increase in average hourly earnings in September (which equates to higher costs for businesses and more money for employees), 248,000 new non-farm payrolls added to the US economy, and an unemployment rate of 3.7%, unchanged from August. If the real numbers exceed these expectations on Friday, this will likely be bullish news for the US Dollar, since the Fed will have further incentive to raise rates to cool the economy. However, if the real numbers fail to meet these expectations, this may be interpreted as bearish for USD, since it could prompt the Fed to consider pumping the brakes on further interest rate hikes. If Wednesday's NFP estimates are any indication, a hotter-than-expected US labor market seems plausible, which would benefit USD bulls.
Two Potential Pairs to Buy
The following pairs are rated favorably by the A1 EdgeFinder as potential buying opportunities for those aiming to go long on USD. They are listed below with their respective ratings and signals, along with their EdgeFinder analysis and current trends on a 1-day timeframe.
1) USD/JPY (Earns a 4, or ‘Buy’ Signal)
2) USD/CHF (Earns a 4, or ‘Buy’ Signal)
Two Potential Pairs to Sell
The following pairs are rated favorably by the A1 EdgeFinder as potential selling opportunities for those who are bullish on USD. They are listed below with their respective ratings and signals, along with their EdgeFinder analysis and current trends on a 1-day timeframe.
1) EUR/USD (Earns a -7, or ‘Strong Sell’ Signal)
2) GBP/USD (Earns a -5, or ‘Sell’ Signal)
Last week’s selloff was brutal for investors in the US stock market: the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at its lowest level since late 2020, falling to 29590.41, losing 1.6% on Friday alone. With the S&P 500 currently down a whopping 23% from January’s highs this year, and other indexes close behind percentagewise, stock market bulls are understandably desperate to find any event to warrant optimism. Unfortunately, despite some respite from US inflation in July and August, there does not appear to be much reason to expect this selloff to stop anytime soon. With bearish momentum emerging for equities, and fears about an impending crash and recession growing, we have no choice but to get ready for the bear market.
What is a Bear Market?
Technically speaking, there is no strict definition for a bear market, since it is a more colloquial term than an exact set of financial conditions. However, it is generally agreed upon that when analysts refer to a bear market, they are discussing a financial market or index that has lost at least 20% of its value from recent highs. It is also worth noting that a bear market can occur without that market crashing, since a crash often refers to a dire situation in which said market loses at least 10% of its value in a single day.
Why is This Happening?
Many factors can contribute to a bear market, ranging from trade and foreign policy issues, to market-generated financial crises, to fiscal and monetary policy. In this particular situation, there appear to be two interrelated key catalysts creating a looming bear market in the United States:
1) An extremely hawkish Federal Reserve that is in eager pursuit of contractionary monetary policy, with economic growth being sacrificed accordingly. Chair Powell recently emphasized this at the FOMC press conference by explaining that for now, the Fed can only fulfill its ‘dual mandate’ by focusing on stabilizing prices at the expense of high employment, for the sake of eventual maximum employment. Stocks are not just a casualty in the effort to reduce high prices, they are a primary target.
2) Poor economic forecasts for both businesses and consumers, tied together in a vicious cycle. High interest rates will make it difficult for businesses to borrow or attract investors, as their high-risk shares and bonds will be far less lucrative compared to low-risk alternative securities. This nearly guarantees that they will have less capital to spend on employees, reducing employment opportunities and triggering layoffs for workers who are already struggling under the weight of high inflation and costly debts. These workers will then likewise spend even less, guaranteeing lower revenues for businesses accordingly, further impeding growth.
How Severe Will It Be?
For better or for worse, because of how unpredictable markets are by nature, we are effectively unable to know just how severe this bear market and recession could be. However, between the Federal Reserve’s far-from-spotless track record (2022’s hawkish Powell is, in fact, still the same person as 2021’s dovish optimist who dismissed inflation as ‘transient’), as well as the inherent lags in inflationary data such as Core CPI, the Federal Reserve could easily overshoot their tightening effort and create a depression.
This seems especially possible considering how badly the stock market has been hit while the labor market remains hot; these selloffs may become far worse as unemployment rates begin to increase, particularly if high global food and energy prices remain a problem for US consumers. However, because this hawkish monetary policy mission is consciously created by the Fed, rather than being the result of a structural failure as per the Financial Crisis of 2008, there is a chance that a meaningful economic recovery could be implemented more quickly than in decades past.
What Can Be Done?
Sadly, little can be done by working people to prevent a bear market from occurring beyond a miraculous, coordinated effort to voluntarily reduce consumer spending across the United States. Even if volatile food and energy prices continue to fall in a similar fashion as over the last few months, the Fed would still likely keep their eye on core inflation for a more complete picture. This downturn is being induced at an institutional level and is ostensibly unavoidable.
Nonetheless, for those who are long-term investors, bear markets also present myriad buying opportunities, as many shares across sectors are available at heavily discounted prices. For those who are patient and have some income to spare, building a diversified portfolio through recurring investments in safe, reputable funds remains a simple way to capitalize on poorly performing indices. While these methods by no means cancel out the horrors of economic suffering, value investing in this fashion offers consumers some semblance of wealth-building agency as we endure this business cycle.
• There have been significant declines in stock market prices since January of this year, with some indices, like the S&P 500, losing over 20% of their value. These trends sadly don’t appear to be stopping.
• A bear market is a term typically used in the context of a financial market or index that has lost at least 20% of its value from recent highs.
• While bear markets can occur for numerous reasons, the primary catalysts behind an impending bear market in the US appear to be hawkish aggression from the Federal Reserve and a bleak outlook for businesses, workers, and consumers accordingly.
• Although the exact dimensions of an anticipated bear market are unpredictable, it seems plausible that its severity could exceed that of current FOMC economic projections, though perhaps last more briefly because it is only artificially induced by the Fed.
• Unfortunately for working people, little will likely be done to prevent this downturn from happening at an institutional level. However, for those who can set aside some money for recurring and diversified long-term investments, buying opportunities will be plentiful.