The US dollar is higher against most major pairs on Thursday. The greenback is only down against the Japanese Yen which rose 0.42 percent. Geopolitics and a strong dollar combined to keep stock markets under pressure. The investigation on the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US-China concerns, Brexit, Italian budget comments and the aftermath of the release of the Fed minutes are dictating market moves as investors look for safe haven assets.
The US Treasury Department published its currency report yesterday, and while not outright calling China a currency manipulator it did focus on past intervention and was first on a list of 6 countries on the monitoring list. The language was tougher and the emphasis on the trade deficit signals the current trade dispute between the two nations will not be resolved in the short term. The US and China are preparing talks at the G20 meeting next month.
The news that US Secretary pulled out of the Saudi Arabia investment conference after discussing with President Trump and Secretary Pompeo is seen as a conciliatory move from the administration to politicians who have called for some distance from the Middle East nation. Mnuchin joins a long list of businessmen and leaders who have excused themselves amid the disappearance of Khashoggi.
GBP – Pound Lower as Brexit Shows Sides are too far Apart
Sterling is down 0.63 percent against the greenback. Theresa May is still optimistic a “good deal” can be reached, but the reality appears to show the UK and the EU are too far apart with a fast approaching deadline and the currency market is reflecting that. Earlier the UK PM said that the EU proposal on the Irish border was unacceptable.
The EU and the UK have kept an optimistic demeanour when discussing the divorce with the press, but there does not seem to be that much progress from either side. The best so far have been extensions, and as the DUP party said extending the deadline will not solve the Irish backstop problem.
ECB President Mario Draghi said today that he sees Brexit’s effect as limited for the European economy with a higher risk coming from EU budget rules being challenged.
EUR – Italian Budget Giving Euro Headaches
Italian budget comments from the EU commission pushed Italian bonds lower as the stand off between Brussels and Rome continues. Italian PM Conte will hold a meeting on Saturday to go over the already proposed budget. The EU commission is calling the proposal a “unprecedented deviation” from EU’s budget rules.
The single currency fell 0.29 percent on Thursday against the US dollar. The Italian budget drama put the euro in a corner as the release of the minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and comments from voting and non-voting members support more US interest rate lifts.
CAD – Loonie Under Pressure Ahead of Retail Sales and Inflation
The Canadian dollar fell 0.49 percent on Thursday as Fed rhetoric and risk aversion drove the USD higher. CAD traders will be on the lookout for Canadian retail sales and inflation data due out on Friday. The data is not expected to impress, but rather continue to show a solid pace of growth in the economy validating the upcoming decision by the Bank of Canada (BoC). The central bank is heavily anticipated to lift rates by 25 basis points next week from the current 1.50 percent benchmark.
OIL – Crude Falling as Suppler Fears Ease
Oil prices had bumpy ride on Thursday. Crude was on the decline at 9am in the morning, but the bounce in US stocks pulled oil out of sessions lows. The bounce did not last long and by 2pm West Texas Intermediate was trading below $69 with Brent holding on to gains a little better at $79.67.
Oil prices are caught between supply concerns triggered by geopolitics and rising stockpiles in the US with a possible supply rise by other major producers. The US sanctions against Iran boosted prices even as the Trump administration tried to convince OPEC members to drive costs down. The latest diplomatic turmoil surrounding missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi puts Saudi Arabia under intense focus from global leaders.
US weekly inventories released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday showed a larger than expected buildup that further depreciated oil prices. Growth concerns as trade disputes are not resolved have started to impact energy demand even as supply is tighter.
Weather and geopolitics have been the main factors behind supply disruptions, and without a significant change upward to demand, crude will be more sensitive to political events, specially if it’s based on a major producer.
GOLD – Gold Retaking Safe Haven Crown
Gold rose on Thursday as risk aversion gripped the market. The yellow metal is trading higher after reclaiming its place as a safe haven during times of uncertainty. Gold is rising despite the Fed signalling more upcoming rate hikes to the US interest rate, but geopolitical factors are keeping the metal bid.
Gold is trading at 1,229.60 and will head into the Friday session having gained 0.61 percent. The US dollar is expected to keep its upward trend, specially as investors will not want to have short exposures going into the weekend. Gold’s appeal as a safe haven could reduce the pressure from the USD, considering the various geopolitical events playing out around the globe.
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