A broadly stronger U.S. dollar clocked one-month highs against the euro but remained on the defensive against the yen. China stocks steadied somewhat a day after they had plunged 7% on the year’s first session. Still, Chinese equities ended with a 0.3% decline Tuesday, reflecting nervousness over the health of the world’s second largest economy. So far, safe havens are off to a fast start to the year with confidence in global growth on the ebb in the wake of downbeat factory growth from the world’s top two economies. The dollar has garnered some safe haven and fundamental interest, while the yen has fared even better, notching 11-week highs this week against its American rival. Disappointing inflation data from the euro zone weighed on Europe’s main currency which slumped to Dec. 3 lows. Sterling flirted with nine-month lows while Canada’s loonie firmed but kept near 2004 lows.
Canada’s buck kept in reach of decade-plus lows after a gauge of Canadian inflation fell for the fourth time in as many months, doing nothing to quell talk that area interest rates have yet to hit bottom. Producer prices fell 0.2% in November versus forecasts of zero or unchanged. The steady decline in oil bodes poorly for Canada’s economy thus keeping pressure on the Bank of Canada to consider a growth-boosting interest rate cut. The loonie could be a poor jobs report, due Friday, away from weakening above C$1.40 against the dollar.
Data showing no such improvement in euro area inflation weighed on the euro and knocked it to one-month lows. Keeping a tight lid on inflation, prices steadied at a 0.2% annual rate in December, disappointing forecasts of 0.3%, remaining miles below the European Central Bank’s near 2.0% sweet spot. Weak energy prices were the main culprit. Low inflation suggests the ECB might not be as gun shy about firing its policy bazooka in the months ahead, boding bearishly for the euro.
The Aussie dollar has fallen into an early year hole against its U.S. counterpart, hurt by the bad PR China, the top destination for Australia’s prized resource exports, has received. A weakening Chinese economy points to diminishing demand for Aussie goods, a key growth engine Down Under. Meanwhile, no meeting this month by Australia’s central bank, which is customary, could keep markets guessing over whether area interest rates have bottomed, uncertainty that could serve as another headwind on the Aussie.
The dollar rose to one-month highs against the euro and a currency basket, buoyed by global instability and expectations that Friday’s U.S. jobs report would be solid. Still, the dollar finds itself in an early year hole against the yen following downbeat news Monday from the U.S. and China whose influential factory sectors remained in reverse in December. Subpar U.S. data risk delaying the next Fed rate hike, something that would cause the dollar to lose altitude.
The pound edged closer to 9-month lows with Britain these days ground zero to much uncertainty, sapping demand for the U.K. unit. Mixed messages on Britain’s economy, Europe’s No. 3, keeps the risk of a Bank of England rate hike low. Meanwhile, doubts about Britain’s future in the European Union have fanned further uncertainty, leaving the pound vulnerable to further falls.