The USD Sentiment Is Suffering Hit By Political and Economic Headwinds

Mar. 16, 2018 (Western Union Business Solutions) - The U.S. dollar was back on the defensive Friday after logging its first winning session in 5 days Thursday. The buck was modestly weaker versus the euro and sterling, down less than 0.2%, while it slipped more than 0.6% against the safe haven yen. The otherwise weaker greenback maintained a gain against Canada, keeping the U.S. unit near mid-2017 highs. White House woes have the dollar in the doghouse. More personnel changes are expected from the White House, keeping political uncertainty elevated. Should the president soon fire national security adviser H.R. McMaster, it would mark the loss of another moderate voice following the firing of the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and the resignation of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn. Other weights on the dollar include worries over U.S. trade policy and moderating economic optimism with consumer spending in a slump. Market attention remains on Washington where the Fed meets next week.

EUR

The euro strengthened on the back of the weaker greenback Friday but otherwise kept on a leash after another dovish salvo from Mario Draghi this week. The central bank president sounded the dovish alarms again by affirming that the ECB would be “patient, persistent and prudent” about paring back stimulus with inflation remaining stubbornly low. Underscoring anemic inflation, consumer prices unexpectedly got revised downward to a 1.1% increase in February, a wrong turn from the ECB’s just below 2% goal.

CAD

Canada’s dollar maintained a defensive posture after sinking to fresh 8-month lows this week. Trade friction between the U.S. and Canada has weighed, along with receding expectations for the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates in the months ahead following weaker readings on the economy. President Trump this week took exception with what he characterized as a U.S. trade deficit with Canada. The loonie has a heightened sensitivity to trade matters given Canada’s export-oriented economy.

GBP

Sterling firmed Friday, boosted by the weaker dollar and reports of progress between Britain and Brussels on granting the former a transitional deal to help smooth its exit from the 28-country bloc next year. Next week looms large for the pound with U.K. reports Tuesday on inflation and Wednesday on unemployment. If that’s not enough, retail sales and a Bank of England interest rate decision highlight Thursday trade. The BOE is not expected to raise rates but it could hint at the likelihood of action in the spring.

USD

The dollar was hit by political and economic crosswinds that had the U.S. unit on its back foot. Dollar sentiment is suffering from the perception of the White House shifting in a more hawkish direction with respect to trade that has concerns on the rise about a potential global trade war. Meanwhile, expectations for U.S. first quarter growth have moderated after data this week showed the American consumer in a three-month slump. Consequently, the Fed next week, while it’ expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points to roughly 1.6%, might be inclined to temper any hawkish message and stop short of signaling a fourth rate hike this year.


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