ECB Announces Dovish Tightening
The big market-moving central bank announcement this week was not the Fed. They came out with their so-called “hawkish hike”, but yesterday, the ECB came out and they were supposed to announce the end of their Quantitative Easing program, their own version of the taper, which they did. But they surprised the market by indicating that they would not raise rates above zero, where they are stuck, until the summer of 2019. The markets had not expected such a delay in rate hikes, so it was a dovish tightening announced by the ECB.
The ECB Effectively Eased
When the Fed raised rates, the reaction was pretty much what I expected. The dollar did not strengthen. Gold did not go down. All of that had been priced into the market. What caused the dollar to rally and gold to sell off was the ECB and their unexpected ease, which put a bid into the dollar. We got a huge rise in the dollar yesterday. We got a 2 percent or so drop in the value of the euro against the dollar. And the weakness in the euro, along with the strength in the dollar caused a lot of the emerging market currencies to sell off, so it was a huge dollar rally, not because the Fed hiked, but because the ECB effectively eased.
Initially, yesterday, gold jumped 2% in terms of the euro. In fact it jumped up the the high end of the range that had been trading against the euro and it was very close to a breakout against the euro. It was only up a couple of bucks against the dollar, so all of the rise was in terms of euros, and of course, other currencies also fell against the dollar.
Unexpected ECB Move Caused Gold Sell-off
This morning, the traders came out huge. When we couldn’t get above that key level in terms of the euro, there was massive selling of gold this morning right out of the gate, and gold finally dropped about $20. Remember on Wednesday I talked about the fact that gold had been in a $12 range all month, and I knew that that wasn’t going to persist. Gold was going to have to break out one way or the other. I anticipated gold to break to the upside because I expected gold to rise after the Fed hiked rates, which is what has been happening. What I did not expect was for the ECB to come out with an effective ease, and that’s what caused gold to break out of that range. So I was right about the breakout but I was wrong about the direction due to the unexpected ECB move.