Dollar ride may get even rockier after payrolls
New York (Apr 2) Dollar traders should brace for a big dose of volatility following the release of Friday's much-anticipated nonfarm payrolls report, analysts warned.
Soft data this week have raised concerns about the U.S. economic outlook, and trading volumes thinned by public holidays across the world have set the dollar up for some potentially wild swings, they said.
"If you love volatility, then you will be glad to know that it could notch up when the unemployment data will be released tomorrow," said Naseem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade, in a note.
"Given that the manufacturing and ADP employment data was soft this week, expectations are not really for a thrilling number."
Ahead of Friday's all-important jobs number, analysts polled by Reuters forecast the U.S. economy created 245,000 new roles in March compared with 295,000 in February.
Most U.S. markets will be closed on Friday, with some European markets closed both Friday and Monday for Easter. This means that trading volumes will be lower than usual – something that can exaggerate price moves.
"We could get a situation where you get a very short volatile reaction to the NFP (nonfarm payrolls) and then a more extended reaction on Monday," Boris Schlossberg, managing director of BK Asset Management, told CNBC. "If it's a big miss we could get some big movements."
The dollar has retreated this week on soft economic numbers such as Wednesday's ADP employment report showing a 189,000 rise in monthly private payrolls, well below expectations of around 225,000.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback's value against a basket of major currencies, was trading at 97.89 on Thursday, down about 2.5 percent from 12-year highs hit last month.
It is still up more than 20 percent from where it traded a year ago, however, as investors bet the Federal Reserve will this year deliver its first interest-rate hike since 2006.
Alain Bokobza, global head of asset allocation at Societe Generale, told CNBC on Thursday that he believed that the Fed could even deliver two rate hikes this year.
"Two rate hikes is very little – you have an economy in the U.S. that is running on trend at 3 percent," he said. "We believe that the Fed must very gradually exit the zero-interest rate policy."
And any data that brings forward the timeline for U.S. rate hikes could give the dollar a new lease of life and renew talk of a move to parity against the euro.
The euro hovered around $1.0787 on Thursday, having weakened to below $1.05 last month.
"We think we'll see parity at the end of April or early May. It is soon and there are a number of factors that role into that," Tony Nash, global vice president of Delta Economics, told CNBC.
Analysts added that even if Friday's payrolls number comes in above expectations, it may not ease concerns that a strong dollar is hurting the U.S. economy -- and that could mean the dollar bull-run remains in check for now.