The US currency began this week on the back foot. USD retreated significantly after an earlier upsurge triggered by US labor market data. The euro took advantage of the situation and once again rebounded, trying to consolidate its past gains.
On Monday, February 6, the US dollar extended its Friday rally, which began after the release of strong labor market data. However, USD could not overtake EUR. On Friday, February 3, the US dollar index (USDX) jumped and tested the three-week high at 102.7.
As the greenback surged, US stock futures declined considerably. The release of strong US labor market data prompted investors to avoid risky assets, and sent USD higher, as it indicated that the Fed's policy expectations should be reconsidered. Market participants are expecting the regulator to continue its hawkish policy and put the peak interest rate at 5%-5.25%. According to preliminary estimates, this could be achieved with two additional hikes. Analysts say that the non-farm payrolls for January show that the US labor market is overheated. This would give the Fed more room for further rate hikes, experts say.
In the meantime, the European currency rallied after dropping on Friday by 1%. At the beginning of the new week EUR rose against USD and hit 1.0796. EUR/USD traded at 1.0790 early on Monday, February 6, trying to hold on to its gains. FX strategists at TD Securities believe the pair will move near 1.0800, but may retreat to the low of 1.0600 in the near future.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the United States dropped unexpectedly by 0.1% in January, reaching an all-time low of 3.4%. Experts expected the rate to rise to 3.6%. The latest data shows that employment rose by 894,000 in January, while the number of unemployed declined by 28,000. At the same time, the number of non-farm payrolls rose by 517,000, far exceeding forecasts. The non-farm payroll report for December 2022 was also revised upward.
According to estimates, the number of new jobs in the US economy was almost three times higher than expected. The unexpected growth gave the American economy a new impulse, experts noted. In January, the world's largest economy added 517,000 jobs. This is almost twice as much compared to 223,000 new jobs registered in December 2022.
In addition, average hourly earnings in the US rose by 0.3% last month. Last December average hourly earnings increased by 0.4%. As a result, year-on-year wage growth declined to 4.4% from 4.8% in the previous month. According to current data, public sector employment in the U.S. increased substantially, with 74,000 new jobs added.
Business activity in the US service sector also picked up in January. After a brief dip in December 2022, the index was back above the key level of 50 points, which separates growth from decline. As a result, the ISM Services PMI went up noticeably and advanced to 55.2 points from 49.6 points in November 2022. Recall that in November last year this indicator was 49.6 points.
The current macroeconomic data supported the US dollar, which gained 1% against the euro at the end of last week. However, on Monday, February 6, USD reversed course. As a result, the European currency got the upper hand, recouping its earlier drop.
Analysts believe that upcoming retail sales data in the eurozone may change this situation. Earlier, the euro decreased after the ECB made its decision on interest rates, only to increase after the statements made by the Federal Reserve. Last week, Fed chairman Jerome Powell suggested that there were only two rate hikes left for the regulator. In addition, the head of the Federal Reserve made it clear that the regulator may likely change its monetary policy interest rate, as the rate could reach its peak in 2023 (5%-5.25%).
Amid this situation, analysts noted that the market has become "tired" of endless USD sell-offs. This trend has been continuing throughout the last four months. This might lead to a corrective pullback of EUR/USD by 3%-4%, experts argue. In case of such a scenario, market participants will be able to take their current profits and balance their investment portfolios.