Forex Market update
US Dollar weakens on German industrial data; Pound on two-week high
United States Dollar: The US dollar slipped against most of its major trading rivals Wednesday as risk sentiments improved after German industrial production data beat forecasts handily.
The greenback retreated against the euro after German industrial production rose 1.2 percent in March from a revised 0.6 percent increase the previous month. The data, along with Tuesday’s unexpected factory orders rise, indicates Europe’s largest economy is holding its ground despite the contraction in the rest of Europe.
The ICE-dollar index, which measures the US currency’s strength against a basket of six other major currencies, dropped to 81.807 from 82.295 late Tuesday.
The WSJ dollar index, a rival gauge that measures a slightly wider basket, fell to 73.34 from 73.68 Tuesday.
EURO: The euro climbed the most in three weeks against the US dollar as robust German industrial production data boosted confidence in global growth and diminished expectations of near-term interest rate cut by the European Central Bank.
The 17-nation currency extended its advance after the German cabinet approved European Union plans to place all systemically important banks under the supervision of the ECB.
The euro rose 0.7 percent to $1.3176 from late Tuesday’s close of about $1.3084.
The German DAX 30 index and European stocks pushed against all-time highs following Wednesday’s report. The robust German numbers compliment the record highs in equity markets while the common currency is proving its resilience by sailing through crisis after crisis. Euro has lost less than 0.1 percent against the US dollar this year as falling borrowing costs in the peripheral countries makes investors believe the worst of the eurozone crisis has been put behind.
Nevertheless, further easing from the European Central Bank could still weigh on the shared currency, particularly in the wake of ECB President Mario Draghi’s statements Monday that a negative deposit rate to boost bank lending remained an option.
Japanese Yen: The yen firmed up against the US dollar, but slipped against the euro Wednesday as German industrial production expanded for the second straight month, suggesting Europe’s backbone is faring rather well despite a slowdown in the 17-member currency bloc.
The Japanese currency added 0.1 percent to 98.94 per dollar compared to 99.01 on Tuesday. It slid 0.5 percent to 130.15 yen to the euro.
Pound: The British pound rallied to a near two-week high against the US dollar Wednesday, but retreated further from three-month highs against the euro as investors remained unconvinced of a recovery in the British economy.
A report by the British Retail consortium said UK retails sales fell unexpectedly in April, hurt by an earlier than usual Easter this year. Same stores sales dropped 2.2 percent last month from a year earlier, falling short of the 1.9 percent gain economists predicted.
However, a report Lloyds Banking Group Plc’s Halifax unit revealed house prices in April rose 1.1 percent, more than the 0.2 percent gain economists had forecast.
The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee started a two-day meet on Wednesday and analysts expect the central bank to keep rates and asset-buying program on hold in light of the improved economic data. The UK avoided a triple-dip recession last-quarter, which may keep the central bank on the sidelines for another month. Markets are, however, awaiting March industrial output data, due on Thursday, to see if the positive momentum, as indicated by latest business surveys, is sustained.
Sterling fell 0.2 percent to 84.65 pence per euro at late afternoon trade, London time. It traded 0.5 percent higher against the dollar to $1.5563.
Canadian Dollar: The Canadian dollar rose for a fourth session, rallying to a 12-week high against its US counterpart, as a surge in metal prices boosted commodities ahead of Friday’s domestic employment report.
The currency flirted with parity against the greenback on strong Chinese import data and on signs Germany many avoid a sharp slowdown. It showed little reaction to domestic data that showed housing starts fell in April from March.
Imports rose 16.8 percent in April from the prior month, China’s customs administration said today in Beijing, beating the 13 percent rise markets had estimated. Exports grew at a robust 14.7 percent last month from March.
Gold, Nickel and Copper advanced more than one percent to help push commodities higher.
The loonie, as the Canadian dollar is popularly known, finished Wednesday’s session at C$1.0033 to the greenback, up 0.1 percent from Tuesday’s session close of C$1.0044.
Australian Dollar: The Australian dollar firmed up against the greenback after China said it notched up an $18.16 billion trade surplus in April, beating estimates.
The Australian currency slipped to a two-month low Tuesday after the Reserve Bank of Australia surprised the markets by announcing a rate cut, citing soft economic growth, weak credit growth and tame inflation.
But the currency found support after China said Wednesday imports rose 16.8 percent from a year ago in April. China is Australia’s biggest trade partner.
The Aussie, as the Australian dollar is popularly known, traded at $1.0184, down from late Tuesday’s $1.0179.
Elsewhere, the Norwegian krone advanced against the US dollar after the country’s central bank kept its interest rates unchanged at 1.5 percent for the seventh meeting. The Nordisk Bank had earlier warned about the currency’s strength and its effect on exports and inflation. The currency picked up 1.7percent against the dollar to 5.7448.