November 2018

Nov. 27, 2018 (Western Union Business Solutions)  – The U.S. dollar was mostly steady while the U.K. pound broke below support, hitting its lowest level in nearly two weeks. The greenback otherwise was little changed against the euro, yen and Canadian dollar. Broader market sentiment was subdued following a strong day on Wall Street. The dollar remains well supported by elevated political uncertainty in Europe. Still, dollar gains have been capped by caution ahead of a speech Wednesday, at noon ET, by Jerome Powell, the head of America’s central bank. There’s a risk that Mr. Powell could tone down his optimism about the U.S. economy with global growth showing steady signs of slowing. Lots of risk events loom over the balance of the week, including Thursday when the U.S. issues data on the consumer, inflation and the minutes of the last Fed meeting, and Friday when the G20 meets in Argentina where President Trump and China’s president are expected to discuss their trade feud.




The pound ‘s 0.5% slide led major currencies lower, underscoring how the weekend Brexit agreement between the U.K. and EU didn’t prove to be a game changer for sterling. Moreover, comments from President Trump this week highlighted an uncertain outlook for trans-Atlantic trade to the detriment of the pound. It may be a while yet before Britain can negotiate trade deals with its non-EU counterparts.




Canada’s dollar steadied after an overnight brush with one-week lows. Oil prices softened after a Monday rally which kept commodity currencies on a vulnerable footing. Oil’s recent slide to almost below $50 from above $75 in recent weeks was the chief catalyst that knocked the loonie to late June lows last week. Canadian growth data Friday will shed some light on the local interest rate outlook, a narrative that’s proven loonie-positive following five rate increases by the Bank of Canada since mid-2017.




Like sterling, the euro also flirted with two-week lows against the greenback. The euro’s quick start to the week faded after remarks from Mario Draghi, the president of the ECB, played up economic fragility. Mr. Draghi’s comments Monday came on the same day that Germany released another lackluster report on business confidence. Meanwhile, Italy’s precarious budget situation has done little to inspire buying of the single currency.


Nov. 15, 2018 (Western Union Business Solutions)  – Sterling was spellbound, alternating between gains and losses, after Britain’s Brexit minister resigned. Heightened political uncertainty in the UK kept the pound on volatile ground. In the face of much scepticism amongst her own government, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was able to jump the first hurdle of many by securing cabinet approval of her draft Brexit agreement. GBP/USD oscillated between gains and losses in choppy trading, lacking any directional impetus either way. GBP/EUR continued to wrestle with a key level but was still unable to close above it – a feat last achieved in April. Despite approval from the cabinet, expected resignations by disgruntled cabinet ministers weighed on Sterling. The threat of hard-line Brexiteers calling for a no-confidence vote on Ms May could also derail Brexit developments and send Sterling southwards.


Today, Ms May will present the draft Brexit deal to the House of Commons and a vote in parliament is expected in December. There is increasing doubt over the divorce deal passing through parliament, which is unnerving investors and limiting Sterling gains. According to a Reuters report, demand for Sterling put options (the right to sell Sterling) is increasing, which is a tell-tale sign that market participants lack confidence in the pound recovering. UK retail sales for October unexpectedly fell by 0.5%, adding to the pound’s shaky bias. Yesterday, Sterling shrugged off inflation data, which held steady at 2.4% in October rather than rising to 2.5% as forecast. It appears that Sterling volatility is directly correlated to Brexit news though, leaving GBP traders vulnerable to both substantial upside and downside risk.




US inflation increased by the most in nine months in October, which helped to temporarily stall the US Dollar’s recent decline from traders’ taking profit. The consumer price index rose by 2.5% from 2.3% y/y, encouraging investors about a path of gradual rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve. The US Dollar index, which tracks the dollar’s value against a basket of six currencies, powered to over 16-month highs on Monday, which prompted investors to take profit on the move higher, in other words selling the dollar and thus weakening it. However, despite dropping slightly, the US Currency remains near 2018 highs against its major currency rivals such as the Euro, Yen, Sterling and Canadian Dollar. The US today issues its monthly report on retail sales at 8:30 a.m. ET. Forecasts predict brisk spending of 0.5% in October, from the previous month’s 0.1% increase. Evidence of faster consumer spending, the main engine of US economic growth, would tend to be dollar-positive and a potential catalyst to keep the US unit near 2018 peaks.




The Euro attempted a further recovery yesterday following the relatively positive Brexit developments, however upside appears limited in the wake of the continued standoff between Rome and Brussels regarding Italy’s budget proposal. Italy ramped up tensions by re-submitting its budget plan to the European Commission with no changes to its deficit or growth targets. The original proposal was rejected by the Commission last month as it broke EU fiscal rules and therefore disciplinary steps may now be taken against Rome, which could result in a weaker Euro. The uncertainty and hostility rumbling on in Europe is unnerving investors and putting increased downside pressure on the common currency. EUR/USD momentarily recaptured a key level, which appears to be a level of both support and resistance. Meanwhile, data yesterday revealed the Eurozone grew at the slowest pace in four years in the third quarter. GDP in the common currency bloc expanded by just 0.2% between July and September. The slowing economic growth combined with the jitters resurfacing from Italy could force the European Central Bank to postpone its planned monetary tightening next year might, which would also hurt the Euro in the long run.

Nov. 12, 2018 (Western Union Business Solutions)  – The US Dollar continues to gain strength against its major currency rivals after the US Federal Reserve (Fed) reaffirmed the need to raise interest rates at a gradual pace last week. The expectations of a rate hike in December lifted and the monetary policy divergence between Europe and America widened, allowing the dollar to appreciate. Demand for the dollar continues to swell as the US Dollar index, which tracks the value of the dollar against a basket of currencies, climbs to new 16-month highs around 97.50 this morning.  Data from America this week includes inflation data on Wednesday, retail sales on Thursday and industrial production on Friday.




The Euro has fallen to a fresh 16-month low against the US Dollar this morning, tumbling as investors increase demand for dollars in the current uncertain climate in Europe. As well as sterling, the euro is also suffering amid the rising risks of a no-deal Brexit. The standoff between Rome and Brussels over Italy’s controversial new budget plan is also weighing on the common currency. Tensions and risks are rising as the European Union gave Italy until Tuesday to present a revised version of the budget.  The data docket is quiet across the board today, but tomorrow’s German inflation figures and ZEW survey will kick start another busy data week from Europe. On Wednesday, flash German GDP data will be revealed alongside the Eurozone’s industrial production figures and the blocs overall GDP number. The week will wrap up with a raft of inflation data, but most notably the overall Eurozone core inflation number is forecast to remain well below the European Central Bank’s target of near 2%, which could add to the Euro’s woes.




Renewed Brexit uncertainties continue to plague the British Pound this morning. A Reuters report over the weekend revealed that Moody’s rating agency has warned that the risk of a no-deal Brexit has risen sharply. It appears that UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been forced to abandon plans for a special cabinet meeting to approve a Brexit deal this week and a number of British ministers are threatening to quit again, ramping up the pressure on Ms May and weakening sterling as a result.  This week, investors will also be eying the important UK economic data released from Tuesday onwards. Tomorrow, UK average earnings and unemployment data could give the pound some support as wage growth is forecast to remain above 3%. UK inflation data will be released on Wednesday with a small uptick expected, which could offer sterling additional support. Retail sales data will be revealed on Thursday.

Nov. 8, 2018 ( – The USD extended its gains, pushing the EUR back under 1.14, following Fed’s decision to maintain the benchmark interest rate in its current range between 2% and 2.25%, but keeping the door open to a rate hike at its next meeting on December 18.

Below is the official FOMC Statement released by the central bank earlier today:

“Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in September indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising at a strong rate. Job gains have been strong, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has declined. Household spending has continued to grow strongly, while growth of business fixed investment has moderated from its rapid pace earlier in the year. On a 12-month basis, both overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy remain near 2 percent. Indicators of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective over the medium term. Risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced.

In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 2 to 2-1/4 percent.

In determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its maximum employment objective and its symmetric 2 percent inflation objective. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Jerome H. Powell, Chairman; John C. Williams, Vice Chairman; Thomas I. Barkin; Raphael W. Bostic; Lael Brainard; Richard H. Clarida; Mary C. Daly; Loretta J. Mester; and Randal K. Quarles.”


Nov. 7, 2018 (Western Union Business Solutions)  – The U.S. dollar slumped to multi-week lows after America’s midterm vote yielded a split Congress. The dollar slid broadly, hitting two- and three-week lows against the euro and sterling and its weakest in three months versus the Aussie and kiwi dollars. Canada’s dollar appreciated while emerging markets also outperformed the greenback. America has spoken and awarded the House of Representatives to the Democrats. Republicans maintained control of the Senate. The mixed result suggests an uphill battle for President Trump to deliver more economy-boosting stimulus, a scenario that could mean less economic horsepower and less leeway for the Federal Reserve to raise borrowing rates. The mixed vote also points to a period of dollar-negative political uncertainty if Democrats use their clout to investigate the president. Downside for the greenback could prove somewhat limited ahead of the Fed which begins a two-day meeting today that will conclude Thursday with a decision on interest rates.




The strong dollar suffered a setback after America’s midterm election yielded a divided government that pointed to political gridlock ahead. With Democrats regaining control of the House from Republicans it could make it harder on the president to advance his growth-positive agenda. The specter of less horsepower for the world’s biggest economy could potentially hasten the end of the Fed’s rate hiking era. For now, though, the U.S. economy remains in a high gear, something that could lead the Fed this week to reiterate an optimistic outlook and stay on course for a December rate hike.




Canada’s dollar turned higher against its political-injured U.S. counterpart. Broad-based greenback weakness helped to push oil markets higher, giving the loonie an added boost. Canada’s economy will be in focus today with a gauge of business sentiment due at 10 a.m. ET. The Ivey PMI barely grew last time, with a reading of 50.4 in September, holding just the 50 level that separates boom from bust. The index could be primed for a bounce back in October after the U.S. and Canada forged a new trade agreement.




The kiwi dollar soared to three-month highs and led gains against the U.S. currency. The kiwi received a data-inspired jolt after New Zealand reported a 3.9% jobless rate during the third quarter, the lowest in a decade, a stronger than expected showing that all but shut the door to a local rate cut from 1.75%. While New Zealand’s central bank mulls a policy decision Thursday, it’s not expected to alter borrowing rates but officials could sound more confident in the wake of the stellar jobs news.




The yen steadied above one-month lows hit overnight as the dollar emerged broadly weaker after America’s midterm vote yielded a divided government. Dollar losses were modest and kept the U.S. currency above key levels against the yen. Gains could be tough to sustain for the yen with the Fed now in focus. America’s central bank embarks on a two-day meeting today that will conclude Thursday with an afternoon decision on interest rates. The Fed is not expected to increase rates just yet but an upbeat message would open the door wider to a rate hike in December, a narrative that’s long proven dollar-positive.




The euro rolled to two-week peaks after the dollar succumbed to political risk in the wake of America’s mixed election outcome. Meanwhile, the single currency enjoyed a data lift with German industrial output topping forecasts. America’s midterm vote merely dimmed the political spotlight on Italy, a debt-choked nation that’s in a battle with Brussels over its spending plans, a factor that could keep a relatively low ceiling above the single currency.




Sterling rallied to three-week highs against its U.S. rival as political uncertainty increased on the left side of the pond. Sterling sentiment has brightened at the margin as markets see potential scope for a Brexit deal in the weeks ahead, a treaty that would go some way in allaying pound-negative political risk. Still, the risk is still alive of a no deal outcome, a scenario that would pose a potentially significant downside threat to the U.K. economy. And even if a Brexit treaty is reached, it would still need to be ratified by area parliaments which could prove a daunting task.