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Sharp Rise in U.S. GDP Pressures Foreign Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. Dollar surged on Wednesday, following the release of stronger-than-expected economic data. The news helped drive up interest rates, making the Greenback a more attractive investment. This put pressure on foreign currencies and commodities.

Today, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy grew 4 percent in the second quarter. The estimate was for a 3.1% increase. The first quarter GDP number was revised from down 2.9% to down 2.1%.

With the news showing a strong comeback in the economy, pressure may be on the Federal Reserve to move interest rates up faster than anticipate.

At today’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the central bank will be looking at today’s GDP data. Today’s growth number is likely to encourage FOMC members to strongly discuss the possibility of an early rate hike. Besides the GDP data, however, the central bank will also strongly consider the inflation rate and average hourly earnings before making a change to monetary policy.

Today’s Fed monetary announcement at 2:00 p.m. ET should show the central bank will maintain its low interest rate policy until at least September, maintain its plan to end monthly stimulus by October by reducing its bond purchases by $10 billion per month, and issue a new assessment of the economy.

Support for the EUR/USD continued to erode on Wednesday. The strong GDP figure drove up U.S. interest rates, driving investors into the dollar. This action pushed the Euro to a new low for the year at 1.3366.

The GBP/USD broke sharply on the GDP news. This sent a signal that investors believe the U.S. Fed will most likely raise interest rates before the Bank of England. The market is currently testing the lowest level of a key retracement zone at 1.6882. The Sterling could break into the mid-1.67 range if the downside momentum continues after the Fed announcement.

The improvement in the U.S. economy provided some clarity to gold traders who used the information to extend losses in the December Comex Gold market. The spike higher in the U.S. Dollar also made the dollar-denominated gold market a less-than-attractive investment.

If downside momentum continues after the Fed announcement, traders may go after the swing bottom at $1289.40. Taking out this level could trigger an acceleration into the Fibonacci level at $1289.40.

September Crude Oil futures fell from their highs, but the market held steady after the sharp rise in the U.S. Dollar. Since crude is dollar-denominated, it tends to fall if the Greenback increases in value. Today the stronger GDP data actually underpinned crude oil initially on the thought that a growing economy would lead to increased demand.

Crude oil fell, however, after the Energy Information Administration showed that U.S. crude stocks fell more than expected last week, while gasoline stocks increased.

Crude oil inventories fell by 3.7 million barrels in the week-ended July 25, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 1.5 million barrels.

USD/JPY Fundamental Analysis July 31, 2014 Forecast

The USD/JPY climbed above the 102 level and gained a bit more momentum today after a disappointing Japanese industrial production report.  The pair is trading at 102.14. The June industrial output fell at the fastest rate since the tsunami in March 2011 as companies slowed production to offset a build-up in inventories, official data showed on Wednesday, clouding the outlook for the economy. Manufacturers expect output to rebound in the coming two months as the pain from a sales tax hike in April fades, although soft exports may mean any any rebound will be modest.

The 3.3 percent month-on-month drop far exceeded the median 1.2 percent fall forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, and followed a 0.7 percent increase in May, data by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed. Analysts expect the economy to contract in the second quarter after the increase in the sales tax, with a Reuter’s poll conducted in July projecting a 1.4 percent quarterly drop. The economy is expected to grow 0.6 percent in the current quarter, however, as consumer spending recovers from the tax hike and the government stimulus spending supports domestic demand.

The JPY has been losing the battle against the strong US dollar as the recovery is in full swing in the US. Safe haven buying seems to have moved away from the yen and into the dollar as momentum builds before the FOMC decision due later today along with US GDP numbers.

GBP/USD Fundamental Analysis July 31, 2014 Forecast

The GBP/USD eased by 7 points to trade at 1.6937 as the US dollar continued to gain momentum on a strong US recovery. Data has shown that the US is full recovery mode. The US currency was also supported by increased safety seeking flows following the violence in the Middle East and Ukraine. The US Federal Reserve is also expected to cut its monthly-bond buying programme by another $10billion to $25billion having steadily reduced it from $85billion. The central bank is on course to bring the program to an end in October – leaving it free to start raising interest rates.

Despite signals of sooner rate hikes in the UK, the GBP/USD pair has fallen to a 40-day low of 1.6933 in the run up to the Fed policy, another indicator of the grip of dollar bulls in the market ahead of the big event. Sterling slipped to a six-week low against the US dollar last night in a sign that its year long rally against the greenback may be over.

The pound fell as low as $1.6933 – a level not seen since mid-June – despite a sharp pick up in mortgage lending last month.  Bank of England figures showed 67,196 mortgages were approved in June – up from 62,007 in May and the first increase since January.

The dollar has staged a comeback in recent weeks on the back of falling unemployment in the US and signs the world’s biggest economy is strengthening.

American consumer confidence is at its highest for seven years while official figures are today expected to show the economy grew at an annual rate of around 3 per cent in the second quarter.

EUR/USD Fundamental Analysis July 31, 2014 Forecast

The EUR/USD continued its decent to trade at 1.3402 ahead of the FOMC decision due later in the day. The US dollar index is set to post the biggest monthly gain in more than a year a few hours before the Federal Open Market Committee concludes its debate on US interest rates.

The FOMC is widely expected to leave the interest rate at the record low and maintain the current pace of tapering of asset purchases, but the accompanying statement is expected to contain more hawkish signals this time, given the progress of the economy.

USD index, the trade-weighted index that covers greenback’s performance against six major currencies, has risen to a new six-month high of 81.25 on Tuesday, and then gained today to trade at 81.39.

The index has rallied 1.93% since end-June, the biggest monthly gain after the 1.90% rise in April 2013. If the Fed fails to satisfy the dollar bulls, then the last day of July may delete a good portion of the gains of the past four weeks. The US currency was also supported by increased safety seeking flows following the violence in the Middle East and Ukraine.

The US and European Union decided to widen the sanctions net over Russia for its involvement in the Ukraine issue, which has become a major focus on the geopolitics map after the shooting down of the Malaysian jet MH17.