US Dollar slips on Donald Trump fiscal policy uncertainty

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23 March 2017

Written by
Matthew Ryan

Senior Market Analyst at Ebury. Providing expert currency analysis so small and mid-sized businesses can effectively navigate international markets.

The US Dollar declined to a fresh seven week low against its major peers, while slumping to a four month low against the safe-haven Japanese Yen on Wednesday, with a risk-off mood dominated currency trading yesterday.

I
nvestors have grown increasingly doubtful that US President Donald Trump would be able to follow through with his plans to ramp up spending and cut taxes following his election. The ongoing FBI investigation regarding the Trump Administration’s ties with Russia and pending healthcare bill could possibly delay, or even derail, many of the President’s economic plans.

The House of Representatives will today vote on Trump’s proposed American Health Care Act. Should it fail to be passed, as expected, the prospect of increased spending or lower taxes in the US before the summer will begin to look increasingly more remote.

Sterling briefly approached a six day low against the Euro after news of the attack on Westminster Bridge broke yesterday afternoon. The Pound quickly recovered and ended trading mostly unchanged against both the Euro and the Dollar. The currency continues to trade around its highest level in a month amid expectation of higher interest rates in the UK before the end of the year.

Away from the major currencies, oil prices fell again to their lowest level since November after data showed US crude inventories rose faster than expected. The commodity dependant Canadian Dollar and Russian Ruble subsequently ended trading as two of the worst performing currencies.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will be speaking in Washington just after midday UK time this afternoon, although is unlikely to add much new information given the lack of time elapsed since last week’s Fed meeting. Retail sales in the UK this morning could also prove a market mover.

Major currencies in detail

GBP

The Pound ended London trading 0.1% lower yesterday, hovering around its strongest position in four weeks.

Speculation is growing that the Bank of England could be on course to raise interest rates at some point in 2017. Sterling has now surged by around 3% in the past week off the back of Tuesday’s above target inflation data and the unexpected decision of MPC member Forbes to vote for an immediate interest rate hike last week. A Bank of England report released yesterday claimed that a weak Sterling was being passed through into both higher manufacturing output and inflation, both of which are conducive of higher rates.

Retail sales will be the main focal point of trading today when released this morning. Sales are forecast to have accelerated in February, in line with the recent stream of economic data out of the UK that suggests the economy is weathering the effects of the pending Brexit vote remarkably well.

EUR

The single currency was fairly range bound throughout much of trading yesterday, ending the London session just 0.1% higher against the Dollar.

With no major economic news released in the Eurozone again on Wednesday, attention was on events elsewhere, primarily out of the US. The latest French election poll was largely unchanged, showing a modest 2% advantage for Marine Le Pen in the first round of voting. A second round poll from Elabe did, however, give Emmanuel Macron a comfortable advantage in the run-off vote. Macron is expected to beat Le Pen with 64% of the vote to 36%.

Consumer confidence data will be released at 15:00 UK time and is expected to show a modest uptick on a month previous.

USD

The US Dollar fell 0.2% on concerns that Trump may be unable to follow through with many of his proposed economic policies this year.

Housing data out of the US yesterday was broadly disappointing. Existing home sales fell 3.7% month-on-month in February, slightly below expectations. The housing price index also came in flat for January, versus a 0.4% consensus.

Janet Yellen is unlikely to provide much new information today. Initial jobless claims this afternoon are expected to remain around their lowest level in over four decades.

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