The Euro Nominal Effective Exchange Rate (NEER) appreciated about 8% between 20th April and late-August and outperformed all major currencies. However, since its multi-year high on 28th August the Euro NEER has weakened an albeit very modest 1%.
The question is whether/when the Euro may again find favour and set new multi-year highs or whether a more acute correction looms.
Part of the answer lies in the confluence of inter-related factors which contributed to the Euro’s steady climb in the first place but have recently lost some traction.
Prior to its take-off in April, the Eurozone NEER had been one of the more stable among the majors. The Euro was perceived as neither a “risk-on” nor “risk-off” currency and the ECB tacitly welcomed the Euro’s underperformance versus its key trading partners’ currencies.
While the French presidential election in April-May was an important catalyst for the Euro’s appreciation, the seeds for its rally and accession to “safe-haven” status had arguably been sown in 2015-2016.
However, some of these Euro-positive factors have become prey to far greater uncertainty and lost traction in recent weeks, undermining the Euro’s relative appeal while the Dollar and Sterling narrative has improved somewhat.
Financial markets have in particular reacted negatively to Sunday’s German federal election and uncertainty it has generated, both at a domestic and European level.
The Euro finds itself at a cross-road and I see little scope for rapid and/or sustained appreciation until the ECB announces the modalities of an extended QE program and a new German government is in place, with the risk biased towards bouts of Euro weakness.
Longer-term, however, a number of factors could drive renewed Euro appreciation, albeit at a likely slower pace than in April-August.