Currency Market Analysis

Dec 03, 2015 | Currency Market Analysis

Global Themes

In volatile trade after the European Central Bank cut a key interest rate, the U.S. dollar gave back fresh April highs against the euro. Ahead of today’s wildly hyped decision, the euro had plumbed fresh lows. So far the 19- nation central bank has met consensus expectations, not overwhelmed them like some had anticipated, with its decision to cut its deposit rate for commercial banks by 10 basis points to minus 0.30%. The ECB’s move is aimed at getting area banks to step up lending rather than parking money at the central bank which now comes at a higher cost. More easing measures are anticipated when ECB President Mario Draghi holds a press briefing at 8:30 a.m. ET. If that’s not enough, markets will also weigh remarks today from the Fed chair when she testifies on Capitol Hill at 10 a.m. ET. U.S. data on weekly jobless claims and services sector growth are also due. The big U.S. jobs report looms Friday.


The Aussie dollar extended its winning streak to its strongest in seven weeks, buoyed by the steady outlook for area interest rates; a subtly hawkish view that was bolstered by Australia’s stronger growth last quarter. Weak commodities and the uncertain shape of China, Australia’s prized export market, suggest the Aussie gains might not stretch beyond the short run. 


Sterling rose above seven-month lows hit Wednesday against the greenback, tracking EUR/USD higher after the ECB decision. Currency seas are highly choppy ahead of speaking appearances today by the heads of the ECB and Fed. Sterling also benefited from faster U.K. services growth last month which clocked in at 55.9, the highest in four months and nearly a point better than expected. Nevertheless, underlying sentiment has darkened for the pound on the view that Britain may arrive later to the interest rate raising party that the Fed appears on the cusp of throwing.


A whipsawed euro soared to mid-November highs after the ECB stopped short of markets’ gung-ho expectations for new policy stimulus. Ahead of the ECB’s much ballyhooed decision, the euro had slumped to fresh seven-month lows under $1.06. The euro jumped after the ECB announced measures that were toward the low end of expectations. The bank cut the deposit rate for commercial banks to minus 0.30% from minus 0.20%. Its monthly bond purchases, aimed at cheapening credit for businesses and consumers and lifting low inflation, remain at €60 billion but will run at least through March 2017, six months longer than previously anticipated. The euro is now free to test the upper limits of its range since markets went overboard in expecting more from the ECB.


An underwhelming ECB and a jump in U.S. jobless claims robbed the dollar of fresh highs, knocking it to three-week lows against the euro. Jobless claims rose 9,000 to a still solid 269,000, keeping in a healthy range below 300,000 for nearly 40 consecutive weeks. Lots more to drive the dollar in Fed chair testimony, and more data, including Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report for November, forecast to show a gain of 200,000.


The Bank of Canada’s steady hand yesterday leaving interest rates at 0.50% along with its not as dovish statement continued to supply the loonie would buoyancy, keeping it above recent lows. The BOC held steadfast to views that the economy would pick up and benefit from low lending rates and a lower loonie.

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