Europe’s resurgent common currency is looking powerful enough to get people talking about ‘King Euro’.
The currency has rallied more than 10% since virus turmoil shook global markets in March, buoyed by the European Union’s policy response to the crisis and as rock-bottom interest rates in the U.S. weaken the dollar. Hedge funds are now betting on another jump higher to $1.25 after U.S. elections, with options seeing the most bullish August on record.
It’s part of a wider trend that’s got Mizuho International strategists bestowing the title of king of currencies on the euro - an accolade normally reserved for the greenback - as uncertainty around November’s U.S. presidential vote helps to further burnish the appeal of European assets.
“Building expectations for a Democratic sweep have likely played a role in weakening the dollar and strengthening the euro,” said Lee Hardman, foreign exchange strategist at MUFG Bank Ltd. in London. “Whether that continues ahead of the election will depend on whether the race tightens or not.”
Either way, the vote is now the key event on traders’ horizons. Option markets show investors bracing for turbulence in the euro-dollar pair three months from now, then seeing volatility cool off gradually.
That’s not stopping hedge funds from betting the euro will trade above $1.25 after the elections, according to traders and brokers in Europe familiar with the transactions.
Renewed optimism for the euro’s prospects is also being reflected in options trades that have gone through the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation this month. August has seen the greatest demand for exposure to euro gains since Bloomberg began compiling data, at twice the volume of bets on a downturn.
Some investors are placing sizable bets for an even bigger surge to $1.28 next year. That would be an 8% increase from current levels, and would take it to the highest since 2014. Other gauges of market positioning and sentiment for the next two years are flashing levels of bullishness on the euro seen only a few times in more than a decade.
Of course, other factors will also determine the euro’s future, not least the extent to which the region’s growth outpaces that of the U.S., and how well both sides of the Atlantic manage to control the continued spread of the coronavirus.
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