Will Lower Than Expected Euro-area Inflation Accelerate the EUR Decline?

Sept. 28, 2018 (Western Union Business Solutions) –  The U.S. dollar is closing out the quarter on a run with solid gains Friday. After abandoning the dollar over recent weeks and sending it to multimonth lows, the market has embarked on a new buying spree of the U.S. unit which soared to two-week highs overall and to 2018 peaks against the yen. Down more than 0.5%, the euro led losses against the dollar as it plunged in response to twin negatives from Europe. Italy announced a bigger than expected budget deficit which undermined market confidence in Rome’s ability to service its massive debt burden. Core inflation in the euro zone unexpectedly weakened below 1%, dealing a blow to ECB optimism in prices making a vigorous comeback. The dollar also strengthened against sterling and emerging markets but was little changed against Canada and Switzerland. Big ticket data are due today on the American consumer and inflation, and July growth from Canada.




The greenback kept near session peaks after largely in line with expectations U.S. data. Both consumer income and spending increased by 0.3% in July. Included in the data was the Fed’s main gauge of underlying inflation which steadied at an annual rate of 2%. The data suggested full steam ahead for the Fed to deliver a fourth and final rate hike of the year by December. Still, with inflation remaining low and stable, it’s unlikely to meaningfully add to the dollar’s recent burst of strength since tame prices won’t pressure the Fed to tighten policy at a faster pace.




A double dose of discouraging news from Europe sent the euro tumbling more than 0.5% to two-week lows. Italy announced a debt to GDP budget deficit of 2.4%, a higher than expected amount that rattled market confidence in Rome managing one of the bloc’s biggest debt piles. While the 2.4% level is below the EU’s 3% ceiling, it’s higher than the market had expected. Rome appears to be wagering that by stepping up spending it would boost government revenue which could then be used to pay down the deficit. The danger is that if Rome’s game plan should backfire it could heap pressure on the ECB to backstop its finances or risk unleashing another sovereign debt crisis. Area data also served as a euro sell signal as core inflation unexpectedly slowed to 0.9% in September, a move further away from the ECB’s just below 2% goal. The data is seen as a setback to ECB hopes of a vigorous bounce back in inflation, a narrative that has supported the euro.




Canada’s dollar defied the stronger greenback to push higher after better than expected area growth was supportive of the Bank of Canada increasing borrowing rates next month. Canada’s economy bounced back by growing 0.2% in July, the start of the third quarter, after flatlining in June. The data, coming in above forecasts of 0.1%, increased the likelihood of a BOC rate hike to 1.75% from 1.50% on Oct. 24 to nearly 80% from about 70% Thursday.




The yen closed out the quarter at fresh 2018 lows, pressured by a broadly stronger greenback. The opposing paths of monetary policy in Japan, which is expected to remain low and south of zero for a long time yet, and the Fed which raised rates this week and expects to deliver more also served as a significant weight on the Japanese currency.

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