EUR/USD Slips to New Lows on Good US Data
Daily FX Market Roundup 03.25.2021
By Kathy Lien, Managing Director of FX Strategy for BK Asset Management
Stronger than expected economic reports drove the U.S. dollar higher against all of the major currencies. There’s no question that of the G3 currencies (USD, EUR and JPY), the U.S. is leading the recovery and data is beginning to show the benefits of a smooth coronavirus vaccine rollout. Seventy percent of Americans 65 or older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose with more than a third of the overall adult population receiving their first jab. Businesses are reopening and economic activity is accelerating. As a result, jobless claims fell to 684K, its lowest level in more than a year. Fourth quarter GDP growth was also revised up to 4.3% from 4.1%. The U.S. economy is still a long way from normal but the numbers show that it is moving in the right direction. With more Americans getting vaccinated every day, further improvements are likely. Personal income and spending numbers are due for release tomorrow.
While investors bought dollars, stocks did not turn higher until after the London close. The reluctance can be partly attributed to Federal Reserve Chairman Powell’s comments on NPR’s Morning Edition. For the first time since the pandemic began, he talked about a future with less stimulus. Powell said, “As we make substantial further progress toward our goals, we’ll gradually roll back the amount of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities we’ve bought.” However all of this would be predicated on a strong recovery which is ultimately positive for U.S. assets and explains why equities recovered their losses to end the day up.
Fewer restrictions, more vaccinations stand in stark contrast with Europe where fresh lockdown measures were announced this month for Germany, France and Italy. Compared to the U.S., only 9% of the German population have received their first shot. We have been bearish euros all month and that will remain true regardless of tomorrow’s IFO report. German business confidence may be bolstered by the stronger PMIs, but confidence in the region will be restrained until the government gets better control of the latest wave. ECB member De Guindos sees Eurozone GDP contracting in the first half of the year. EUR/USD dropped below 1.18 for the first time since November and it may not find support until the 50-week SMA at 1.17.
Sterling on the other hand snapped a 5 day decline to end the day higher against the U.S. dollar. The U.K. is in a very difficult position with COVID-19. Like the U.S., their vaccine rollout program has been quick and aggressive. More than 50% of their adult population received their first shot and this will pay dividends for the economy. Retail sales are due for release on Friday and we are looking for a solid increase after last month’s sharp decline.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars erased earlier gains to end the dollar lower against the greenback whereas the Canadian dollar started the day under pressure. Although New Zealand’s trade balance returned to surplus, investors can not look past the government’s recent steps to curb housing price increases. No data was released from Canada but oil prices resumed their slide and more importantly, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled the carbon tax law as constitutional. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a top priority for the government and this tax which is bad for the industry, is something they would have had to deal with eventually.