Foreign Exchange Market Update
March 3, 2015
Indicative Interbank spot sell rates only as of 12:00 PM PST.
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The U.S. dollar weakened 0.5 percent to 119.58 yen and was down 0.1 percent at $1.1196 per euro. The US Dollar Spot Index dropped from a decade high. U.S. consumer purchases adjusted for inflation rose 0.3 percent, following a 0.1 percent drop the prior month, a Commerce Department report showed Monday. The Markit Economics final index of U.S. manufacturing climbed to a four-month high of 55.1 in February from 53.9 a month earlier.
The euro-area economy has taken a step in the right direction. While improving conditions over the past month won’t change Mario Draghi’s plan to start buying government bonds within days, continued economic recuperation may well stir a debate about when to end them. So far, officials have indicated the buying spree could be extended beyond its proposed timetable -- a less likely outcome if an easing in the region’s price slump and a drop in unemployment mark the beginning of a trend. Consumer prices in the 19-nation euro area fell 0.3 percent in February, half as much as the previous month and less than economists forecast. Unemployment dropped to 11.2 percent in January, the lowest since April 2012.
Canada’s dollar rose the most in two weeks as a report showed gross domestic product grew more than forecast in the fourth quarter, before policy makers meet Wednesday. The Bank of Canada is forecast to hold the nation’s key interest rate at 0.75 percent, after cutting it in January from 1 percent. A report today showed the nation’s economy grew at a 2.4 percent annualized pace from October to December, beating the 2 percent median forecast. The loonie, named for the image of the aquatic bird on the C$1 coin, strengthened as much as 0.8 percent to C$1.2433 per U.S. dollar. Canada’s economy has suffered from a slump of more than 50 percent since June in the price of oil, the nation’s biggest export.
The pound was little changed at 72.79 pence per euro on Tuesday, after appreciating a day earlier to 72.34 pence versus the shared currency, the strongest level since December 2007. Sterling was at $1.5375, from $1.5366 on Monday. With the start of the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program potentially just days away, U.K. government bonds are yielding the most relative to similar-maturity Italian debt since 2007.
The Australian dollar led currencies of commodity-producing countries higher after the nation’s central bank refrained from a second interest-rate cut in as many months. The Aussie rose 0.9 percent to 78.33 U.S. cents at 12:40 p.m. in New York and climbed as high as 78.45 cents. It fell to a 5 1/2-year low of 76.26 cents last month, when the RBA trimmed borrowing costs by a quarter-percentage point.
There’s no “urgent need” to widen the Yuan trading band, the deputy central bank governor in charge of foreign exchange reserves management said, even as China’s currency contends with depreciation pressure. With a slowing economy and capital outflows, China’s currency has pressured the low end of its 2 percent daily fixing, which is set and defended by the People’s Bank of China. That pressure spurred speculation from analysts that the band could soon be widened. Slowing growth in China and a strengthening U.S. economy have combined to push the Yuan 2 percent weaker versus the dollar in the past 12 months. By comparison, the yen has declined more than 15 percent.
This market update is prepared by Cathay Bank for informational purposes only and does not constitute any form of legal, tax or investment advice, nor should it be considered an assurance or guarantee of future exchange rate movements or trends. This information is provided without regard to the specific objectives, financial situation or needs of any recipient. Cathay Bank does not make any representations or warranties about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of this market update.