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The US Dollar Index

The Dollar Index is a very useful yet simple to understand tool for currency, commodity and equity traders. The index measures the fluctuations of the US Dollar against a basket of different currencies: Euro, Japanese Yen, Canadian Dollar, British Pound, Swedish Krona and Swiss Franc (the Forecast Service provides market projections for currencies and many other asset classes. Send an email to info@hypervolatility.com and get a free 14 days trial). In practical terms, the Dollar Index tries to quantify how much the US dollar is appreciating or depreciating with respect to some of the most important and traded currencies in the world. The reason the Dollar Index is a valuable instrument for many traders is primarily due to its correlation to other asset classes and particularly risky assets.

As previously mentioned, the Index tracks the performance of the American dollar against a basket of other currencies, however, each exchange rate has a different weight. Specifically, the Index is a weighted geometric mean whose components and respective weights are the following: Euro (56.7%), Japanese Yen (13.6%), British Pound (11.9%), Canadian Dollar (9.1%), Swedish Krona (4.2%) and Swiss Franc (3.6%). The Index has 100 as a benchmark value therefore every reading below this threshold would imply a depreciation of the American currency against the basket, primarily the Euro, while any value above it is obviously indicating an appreciation. It goes without saying that the reason the Dollar Index has been trading below the 100 level for so long is the axiomatic consequence of the strength of the Single currency. It is clear that the Euro, whose weight in the Dollar Index calculation is 56.7%, is the most important currency since its impact is by far the heaviest. Obviously, every appreciation of the Single currency will impact negatively on the performance of the dollar and the next chart evidently displays such relationship:

Dollar Index

The above reported chart evidently displays the natural inverse relationship between the 2 markets and the obvious contrary fluctuations can be used to hedge potential currency based portfolios. In particular, the Euro, which is considered to be a risky asset, is positively correlated to equity indices therefore a drop in the Single currency would automatically correspond to a rise in the Dollar index. However, the positive correlation amongst Euro futures and other equity indices (such as E-Mini S&P500, DAX or Nasdaq futures) would suggest that a down trend in the Single currency is likely to be accompanied by a retracement in many risky assets. Therefore, the Dollar Index, being a “contrarian market by default”, could be very useful to detect market nervousness and cover unstable positions in equities. In order to better understand how much the American currency is linked to its components we will analyze the volatility fluctuations of the most important exchanges: Euro, British Pound and Japanese Yen futures. The reason we chose these 3 currencies is related to their weights, in fact, the combination of the aforementioned asset classes is responsible for 82.2% of the Dollar Index’s oscillation (Euro 56.7% + Japanese Yen 13.6% + British Pound 11.9%).

Dollar Index

The calculation tracks the volatility performance of the Dollar Index, Euro futures, Japanese Yen futures and British Pound futures. It is evident that the oscillations are more or less correlated, in fact, the volatility decreased for all asset classes in January, April – May, August – September and November – December but drastically augmented in February, June – July and October. Undoubtedly, every market behaved differently in the short term but the macro movements are very correlated each other. This information is very important to forex traders because it proves that the Dollar Index, in terms of magnitude, moves as much as the other currencies implying that it could be used as a hedging tool when the Euro or the British Pound are in downtrend (the behaviour of the Japanese Yen is different and it will be treated separately later on). Let’s have a look at the relationships amongst the aforementioned exchanges from a quantitative point of view:

Dollar Index

The table presents the correlation and covariance of each asset class against the Dollar Index and the results stress what have been previously stated: the Index obviously has an extremely strong negative correlation to the price of the Euro (-0.93) and a strong negative correlation to the price of the British Pound (-0.66). However, Euro and British Pound volatilities display a strong positive connection to the Dollar Index, in fact, the correlation coefficients are +0.79 and +0.69 respectively. The positive connection in volatility is an obvious consequence of the fact that the rise in the Dollar Index will always be proportioned to the depreciation of the remaining currencies, hence, the movement will be fairly similar in terms of magnitude. The covariance of Euro and British Pound prices with respect to the value of the dollar (the covariance measures the mutual variability of 2 random variables) is negative, -0.16 and -5.04 respectively, which is another natural consequence of the appreciation of the American currency against European exchanges. On the other hand, the volatility covariance is positive, 1.95 and 1.73 respectively, implying that Euro and British Pound volatilities rise when the volatility of the Dollar Index rises and vice versa. The reason volatilities move in the same direction is because both markets observe a leverage effect process: the volatility tends to rise when the price action is in downtrend. Specifically, a drop in Euro and British Pound futures would probably cause an increase in market volatility but a rise in the Dollar Index would increase its volatility too. In other words, risky assets such as Euro or British Pound futures follow a leverage effect process while the Dollar Index is governed by an inverted leverage effect: the volatility increases with a larger buying pressure and decreases in case of a sell–off. Consequently, If Euro and British Pound futures are plunging they are effectively depreciating against the Dollar. Therefore, the volatilities of the 2 European asset classes, following a leverage effect process, will increase while the appreciation of the Dollar will push the Dollar Index up and the buying pressure would increase its variance too.

The Japanese Yen, instead, needs a different approach. First of all, it is necessary to remind that the Asian currency is often used as a hedging tool in portfolio management because many market participants rush to buy Yen when equities drop. Secondly, it is important to point out that the “safe haven role” played by the Japanese Yen has a clear implication: the volatility rises when the market heads north (if you are interested in hedging portfolio risk you may want to read the HyperVolatility research entitled “Portfolio Hedging: Risky Assets vs Safe Havens”). As we can see, Japanese Yen futures, as well as the Dollar Index, are popular assets when equity indices and single stocks are plummeting and their volatilities are both driven by an inverted leverage effect process. The positive price correlation between Dollar Index and Japanese Yen futures (+0.10) and the weak covariance (-0.26) evidently proves the point just made. The price correlation is clearly very low and the negative, although feeble, covariance indicates that the buying pressure was sometimes stronger for the Asian currency. The numbers suggest that in 2012 the Dollar Index and Japanese Yen futures have been both used as a hedging tool but in a diverse fashion because the buying pressure was evidently different.

Conclusions

The Dollar Index is a very simple to understand tool for traders and it is worth monitoring when investing. Here are some important points to bear in mind:

1) The benchmark value for the Dollar Index is 100. If the Index is below this level the dollar is depreciating against other currencies while a reading above this threshold implies an appreciation of the American currency

2) The Dollar Index is a weighted geometric mean whose components and respective weights are the following: Euro (56.7%), Japanese Yen (13.6%), British Pound (11.9%), Canadian Dollar (9.1%), Swedish Krona (4.2%) and Swiss Franc (3.6%)

3) The Euro is the currency that influences Dollar Index’s fluctuations the most

4) The volatility of the Dollar Index rises with an increasing buying pressure and decreases when the market goes down

5) Euro, Japanese Yen and British Pound are responsible for the 82.2% oscillations in the Dollar Index

6) The Dollar Index can be effectively used to hedge positions in Euro and British Pound futures

7) Japanese Yen futures do not show much correlation to the Dollar Index because of their “safe haven” characteristics

8) The Dollar Index, given its “contrarian nature” is a rather good asset to hold when risky assets (equities, stocks, etc) plunge

The HyperVolatility Forecast Service enables you to receive the statistical analysis and projections for 3 asset classes of your choice on a weekly basis. Every member can select up to 3 markets from the following list: E-Mini S&P500 futures, WTI Crude Oil futures, Euro futures, VIX Index, Gold futures, DAX futures, Treasury Bond futures, German Bund futures, Japanese Yen futures and FTSE/MIB futures.

Send us an email at info@hypervolatility.com with the list of the 3 asset classes you would like to receive the projections for and we will guarantee you a 14 day trial.

Japanese Yen Futures Volatility Forecast (05/10/2011)

Japanese Yen opened at 130.9 on Monday, touched 130.1 on Tuesday, achieved 130.8 on Wednesday, plunged to 130.3 on Thursday and settled at 129.7 on Friday.

The actual volatility is 0.53% (8.4% annualised) and the TGARCH plot is now displaying a fairly stable volatility curve which is likely to remain at this level even in the upcoming trading days.

However, a short term burst of the conditional variance could very easily occur and that would imply an increase in the buying pressure which would probably push higher the price action.

The HyperVolatility team is neither bullish nor bearish Japanese Yen futures because the volatility should remain at current levels even though some oscillations are highly probable.

The price action should remain around the 130.6 -130.8 level throughout the entire week but a worst than expected news could easily change the scenario and push Japanese Yen futures towards the 131 threshold.

Japanese Yen Futures Volatility Forecast (27/09/2011)

Japanese Yen Futures opened at 130.4 on Monday and remained at the same level on Tuesday, moved to 130.5 on Wednesday, rose to 131.2 on Thursday and closed at 130.4 on Friday.

The actual volatility is 0.45% (7.1% annualised) and the TGARCH curve is clearly moving sideways. It would appear that market participants do not expect wild fluctuations in the price action, at least in the short term, although the fact that the conditional variance did not increase despite the consistent drop occurred on Friday is a bit of a warning signal.

Japanese yen futures decreased sharply on Friday even if the equity markets saw an heavy sell-off because the intervention of the central bank of Japan scared away many investors that are now looking for protection elsewhere.

The HyperVolatility team is neither bearish nor bullish. We think that there could be a very short term explosion of the volatility in the first 2 days of the week but the overall picture should remain almost unchanged with futures prices probably settling around the 130 – 130.5 area by Friday.

Japanese Yen Futures Volatility Forecast (19/09/2011)

Japanese Yen Futures opened at 129.1, rose on 130 on Tuesday, touched 130.45 on Wednesday, achieved 130.48 and closed at 130.1 on Friday.

The volatility is now 0.51% (8% annualised) and the TGARCH plot is showing a slightly upward sloping curve which seems to suggest that the upcoming trading hours will see an increase in the fluctuations rate which a consequent drop of the price action.

The concerns about Europe and the great uncertainty surrounding the destiny of Greece , which seems to be really on the brink of collapse, would probably push investors towards safe haven again, if they have ever left them at all, implying that the buying pressure could augment and lift Japanese Yen futures as well as the volatility curve.

The HyperVolatility team is bullish Japanese Yen futures because the symmetric effect between volatility and price action during turmoil is an indication that the buyers will probably get back into the game and purchase some more assets in order to diversify the risk of their portfolios. Hence, we believe that futures prices should increase and eventually retest the 132 threshold by Friday.

The FOMC statement on Wednesday could potentially change the picture should new monetary policies being released.

Japanese Yen Futures Volatility Forecast (06/09/2011)

Japanese Yen futures opened at 130.1 on Monday, rose to 130.4 on Tuesday, jumped to 130.5 on Wednesday, dropped to 130 on Thursday and closed at 130 on Friday.

The volatility is trading around the 0.5% area (7.9% annualised) and the TGARCH plot is now displaying a slightly upward sloping curve which seems to announce a short term increase in the conditional variance although the overall chart shows a fairly stable curve.

The Bank of Japan is still trying to force its currency down in order to counterbalance the massive buying pressure generated by the sell-off in equity markets and by the increased concerns regarding the sovereign debt problems in Europe.

The HyperVolatility team is bullish on Japanese Yen futures because the volatility chart does not seem to present any sign of sharp retracements. Additionally, it is important to point out that the explosion in volatility, at least in the last months, have been caused by an enormous buying pressure rather than a market drop because, as we all know, the Japanese currency is considered to be a safe haven by investors and traders. We are expecting futures prices to skyrocket and achieve the 132 – 133 area by Friday.

Japanese Yen Futures Volatility Forecast (30/08/2011)

Japanese Yen futures opened at 130.2 on Monday, rose to 130.5 on Tuesday, dropped to 129.9 on Wednesday, plummeted to 129 on Thursday and closed to 130.4 on Friday.

The current volatility is 0.52% (8.2% annualised) and the TGARCH plot is displaying an upward sloping curve which seems suggesting that the upcoming hours could see an increase in the market fluctuations rate. The chart clearly shows that the volatility plummeted, found stability around the 0.5% level (7.9% in annual terms) but never experienced any short term bursts. Consequently, the probability for the oscillation rate to augment are quite high and such a phenomenon could manifest itself in the next hours.

Japanese Yen futures are still trading in an unknown territory because the 130 threshold had never been violated over the last 2 years and the fact that the price action is now moving sideways but the volatility is at historically low levels is a very strong warning signal.

The HyperVolatility team is bearish Japanese Yen futures because the buying pressure should diminish over the next hours causing a rise in the conditional variance which will inevitably drag the price back down in the 127 – 127.5 area by Friday.

However, it is worth pointing out that this week the macroeconomics calendar is quite intense and therefore some worse-than-expected news in the fundamentals could easily “poison” futures prices which could achieve the 132-133 threshold before the end of the week.

Japanese Yen Futures Volatility Forecast (22/08/2011)

The last week we were expecting a retracement of the market which would have been favoured by a softening of the panic among investors but the bad figures regarding the manufacturing industry in US and irresponsible politicians poured fuel on flames. In fact, Japanese Yen futures opened at 130.1 on Monday, rose to 130.3 on Tuesday, jumped to 130.7 on Wednesday, retraced at 130.6 on Thursday and closed at 130.7 on Friday.

The current volatility is 0.52% (8.2% annualised) and the TGARCH curve is clearly displaying a curve which is now fluctuating within its equilibrium point. The plot is highlighting a low volatility environment which is probably going to last for another while because the Japanese currency is being bought by investors who consider it a safe haven type of asset class.

Many investors and traders kept buying Japanese Yen futures in order to diversify their portfolios and run away from risky markets but it is worth noting that the Bank of Japan keeps trying to devaluate its currency and the current price action is clearly in an overbought zone with the volatility just ready to explode on the upside and drag futures prices back down again.

The HyperVolatility team is neither bullish nor bearish on this market because a lot of things will depend upon macro-events:

1)    An ulterior sell off will cause the volatility to remain where it is whilst the price action could hit the 131 – 131.5 area by Friday.

2)    Should things get back to normal in the equity world, Japanese Yen futures volatility would literally explode and the price would be inevitably pushed back down in the 128 area by Friday.

This week we decided to opt for a double scenario type of forecast because of the massive uncertainty amongst investors but we certainly reckon that the conditional variance is way too low to remain unaltered for an extended period of time.

Japanese Yen Futures Volatility Forecast (14/08/2011)

The Japanese currency was expected to break through the 130 level on the futures market and effectively so it was even if the 131 resistance was not achieved and the market settled just behind the 130.3 points. In particular, Japanese Yen futures opened at 128.9 on Monday, rose to 130 on Tuesday and moved sideways since then because 130.26, 130.2 and 130.23 have been the closing prices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday respectively.

The actual volatility is 0.58% (9.2% annualised) and the TGARCH plot is visibly showing a downward sloping curve which has effectively touched its long term equilibrium point; that is 0.52% – 0.53% (8.2% – 8.4% in annual terms).

The Bank of Japan’s big sell-off did not manage to prevent its currency from appreciating, phenomenon that for a country which bases most of its revenues on exports could lead to financial catastrophe, but at least it decreased its growth rate.

Furthermore, most of the panic that we have been seeing in the market is now slowly dissipating and the fact that the volatility dropped significantly is a signal that the situation is about to change.

The HyperVolatility team is bearish Japanese Yen futures because the volatility should augment, at least in the short term, whilst the price should get back to normal and eventually touch the 126.5 level by Friday.

Nevertheless, ulterior bad macroeconomics news could alter and distort the price action once again by pushing Japanese Yen futures above the 131.5 threshold.

Japanese Yen Futures Volatility Forecast (08/08/2011)

The sharp drop that equity markets experienced over the last 10 days forced many investors to buy Japanese Yen futures which opened at 129.5 on Monday, rose to 129.8 on Tuesday, remained at this level on Wednesday, dropped to 126.5 on Thursday and closed at 127.6 on Friday.

The current volatility is 0.68% (10.7% in annual terms) and the TGARCH plot is clearly displaying an upward sloping curve which seems to suggest that an ulterior increase in the conditional variance should be expected in the upcoming trading days.

The Bank of Japan intervened, by selling something like 4 trillion yen, in order to prevent its currency from appreciating too much and this caused the heavy drop we all saw on Thursday. In particular, many investors got scared about a default of US and tried to diversify their exposure to market risk by investing in safe havens which is precisely why we had a violent appreciation of the Japanese currency against the dollar.

The HyperVolatility team is bullish Japanese Yen futures because the US debt downgrading, the European debt concerns and the slow growth in the global economy will “motivate” many investors to keep their money in “safe assets”. Particularly, the volatility should start softening over the next trading days whilst the buy pressure should augment despite the desperate intervention of the Bank of Japan to prevent its national currency from a further sharp appreciation which would heavily affect their economy given the fact that Japan is primarily an exporting country.

Japanese Yen futures should retest the 130 level and eventually break through it by Friday. The price action could even touch 131 should the global economy provide ulterior signs of weakness.

Japanese Yen Futures Volatility Forecast (02/08/2011)

The Japanese Yen opened at 127.7 on Monday, touched 128.3 on Tuesday, settled around 128.2 on Wednesday, moved to 128.6 on Thursday and closed at 130.1 on Friday.

The actual volatility is 0.52% (8.2% annualised) and the TGARCH plot is clearly displaying a fairly calm volatility curve, with some very short term augments of the conditional variance, which is now trading within its equilibrium level which is set at 0.5% (7.9% in annual terms).

Furthermore, the price is now trading very closely to the 130 resistance point but, as we anticipated the last week, this is an unknown territory because Japanese Yen futures never managed to break through this price in the last 2 years.

The Japanese Yen futures market has been used by many investors to diversify their portfolio risk whilst earning some small but constant returns in the long term and that’s why we witnessed to a quite steady uptrend over the last 3-4 months. The big question is: is this trend going to last forever?

The HyperVolatility team is bearish Japanese Yen futures because the extremely low volatility environment, which should explode in the short term, and the closeness to a key resistance point are factors that will push the price down back in the 126.8 – 127 area by Friday.

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