A "black streak" came for the AUD/USD bulls after a streak of gains. The pair was rising almost the entire week and hit 0.7147, a seven-month high. But traders couldn't keep it at the level of the 71st figure: the price went down for the second day and tested the 69th price level. Although, it is worth taking note of the fact that the pair is losing ground not only because of the greenback's strength ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting.
Australia: Labor market and inflation
In exactly one week's time, the Reserve Bank of Australia will hold its meeting on February 7. Therefore, traders are not only discussing the outcome of the Fed meeting, but are also preparing for the announcement of the RBA's verdict.
Take note that last week, the pair received strong support from Australian inflation. Data on consumer price index growth in Australia turned out to be in the green zone, surprising market participants. For example, the monthly CPI indicator rose to 8.4% in the twelve months to December (with a forecasted increase to 7.6%). As for Q4 as a whole, all indicators were also in the green zone, exceeding analysts' expectations. In particular, Australia's annual rate of inflation has risen to a record high of 7.8% (with the forecast of 7.5%). The indicator continued the uptrend that it demonstrated throughout last year. The CPI rose 1.9% in the December 2022 quarter, while most experts had forecast a decline to 1.6% (after 1.8% in the third quarter). Core inflation in Australia (weighted average CPI) in quarterly terms also exceeded forecasts, coming in at 1.7%.
The inflation report "revived" the aussie after the previous labor market report. This report, on the contrary, turned out to be very controversial. The growth rate of the number of employed people fell to -14,600, while the growth rate was forecasted to +27,000. After the report, there were rumors in the market that the RBA might take a break in hiking rates in the beginning of spring. Unexpectedly strong inflation refuted these rumors, and the pair managed to conquer the resistance level of 0.7000.
The decline was due to investors' concerns over the actions of the Australian central bank. In my opinion, these fears are exaggerated.
The next steps of the RBA
Let me remind you that after the previous (December) meeting, RBA Governor Philip Lowe said that the central bank does not follow the pre-planned course: according to him, "the size and timing of future rate hikes will continue to be determined by incoming data and the Board's assessment of the outlook for inflation and the labor market". And while the labor market has generally "let down" the bulls, rising Australian inflation clearly speaks in favor of further rate hikes.
In this context, another phrase from Lowe is also noteworthy - that "the Board's priority is to return inflation to target over time".
One would assume that the central bank would slow the pace of rate hikes. But in this case, the RBA played ahead of the curve, lowering the rate to 25 points ahead of many of the leading central banks in the world. That's why this issue was off the table months ago.
As for rumors that the RBA may pause in monetary tightening, first of all, representatives of the central bank have repeatedly denied such intentions, and secondly, inflation indicators have offset the "dovish" talk, even amid weak "Australian Nonfarm".
The Australian dollar, in my opinion, unreasonably yields to pressure from the US currency. Certainly, ahead of the announcement of the results of the Federal Reserve's February meeting, it is detrimental and even dangerous to open any trading positions on the pair. But if the Fed does not ally with the greenback, the upward route for the pair's bulls will be open, even despite some doubts regarding the RBA's further actions. The bullish target will be 0.7150 again.
Technically speaking, the pair is between the middle and the upper lines of the Bollinger Bands indicator on the D1 chart, as well as above all lines of the Ichimoku indicator, which demonstrates a bullish "Parade of Lines" signal. In other words, technically, the pair retains the potential for further growth, to the major resistance level of 0.7150 (the upper line of the Bollinger Bands indicator on D1). A breakdown of this level will open the way to the area of the 72nd figure.