Global Themes

Solid gains against sterling helped the U.S. dollar bounce above multimonth lows. The greenback jumped the better part of 1% against the U.K. pound after an EU summit failed to make progress on Brexit negotiations, increasing the threat of a no-deal scenario that would spell heightened uncertainty for the British economy. The dollar also firmed against the euro and notched new two-month peaks against the yen. Canada’s dollar hovered near but below three-month peaks ahead of influential data today on domestic inflation and consumer spending. While firmer Friday, underlying sentiment has cooled toward the dollar as a moderation in trade war fears has tempered appetite for safer bets while some see the end of the Fed’s interest rate hiking cycle coming into focus after a series of increases since late 2015. The Fed’s Sept. 26 policy decision will be the focal point of a busy week ahead. 

EUR

The euro softened after extending a rally above a key number to its highest in three months against the U.S. dollar. Receding fears of a global trade war have been a boon for the euro and a burden for the dollar as it’s catalyzed a bout of risk-taking which tempered investor appetite for safety and security in currencies like the dollar and yen. Data Friday showing weaker than expected factory growth in big economy Germany and the wider euro zone proved an excuse to book profit on the euro’s rise to June highs.

CAD

Canada’s dollar firmed toward three-month highs after the country’s economy seemingly put the fork in expectations for a local interest rate hike. Headline inflation cooled to an annual rate of 2.8% in August from 3% while one of the measures of core inflation that the Bank of Canada watches increased to 2% from 1.9%. Retail sales rose by 0.3% in July which was slightly under forecast though it helped that the previous reading got revised to a slightly smaller decline. On balance, the data were consistent with an economy that could use an inflation-checking rate hike to 1.75% from 1.50% at central bankers’ coming meeting on Oct. 24. Today’s data suggests that the upturn in the Canadian dollar to June highs is for real – at least ahead of the Fed next week.

JPY

The yen extended its descent to fresh two-month lows against the dollar as trade war tensions cooled and U.S. Treasury yields climbed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose further above the key 3% level that’s proven tough to sustain over recent months. U.S. yields are rising in the runup to next week when the Fed is expected to raise interest rates to 2.25% from 2% and keep the door open to another move in December and more in 2019.

GBP

Sterling led losses against the greenback Friday after an EU summit failed to make progress on Brexit with the parties continuing to squabble over a backstop for the Irish border which straddles Northern Ireland which is part of the U.K. and Ireland, a member of the EU. The less than congenial summit also added to an uncertain political backdrop on Britain where members of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative party could still pursue a leadership change given the lack of meaningful progress on Brexit. 

MXN

Mexico’s peso and most emerging markets came up for air Friday after staging a solid rebound in the wake of the dollar’s decline to three-month lows. The firmer dollar Friday put a brake on the EM rally. Yet EM currencies may have formed a tentative bottom thanks to proactive moves by area central banks, such as Turkey’s, to raise interest rates to help tackle high inflation and shore up their tattered currencies. Still, EM currencies could see renewed volatility next week, particularly if the Fed delivers a widely expected rate hike and should flag a faster pace of future increases to keep the strong U.S. economy from overheating.

USD

The dollar rebounded a bit from multimonth lows, but its underlying bias remained fragile. That’s because worries about a global economy-rattling trade war have moderated, diminishing safety flows into the U.S. unit while some are erring on the side of caution ahead of next week’s Fed meeting. While the Fed is all but certain to raise rates to 2.25% from 2% and keep the door unlocked to a December increase, the outlook for rate increases in 2019 is less certain. The Fed could signal that, after a series of rate increases since late 2015, it’s nearing the end of its rate rising rope, having raised rates at nearly every other meeting since late 2015. A less than hawkish outlook for rates next week would leave the dollar at risk of further losses.

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