(European session) – Dollar dives ahead of Fed meeting minutes; euro rallies as Catalonia-related risk eases
Dollar dives ahead The dollar was the worst performer during the European session on Wednesday as both geopolitical risks and uncertainty over Trump’s fiscal policy dragged the currency lower against other major currencies. Comments by the Chicago Fed President, Charles Evans, and disappointing readings on JOLTS job openings added further losses to the greenback. On the other hand, the euro was performing the best as the absence of a formal Catalan independence declaration relieved markets which feared possible negative political implications. The Spanish government, though, accused the Catalan leader of causing confusion with his actions.
With the North Korean story getting more complicated and investors worrying that Trump’s feud with Senator Bob Corker would harm his tax plans, the dollar extended its slide against its peers during the session after JOLTS job openings came in below expectations and the Chicago Fed President, Charles Evans, questioned the path of inflation.
US job vacancies increased by 6.082 million in August, below the 6.140 million seen in July and the 6.125 million anticipated by analysts. It is worth noting that the figure was probably affected by the hurricanes. This comes a few hours before the release of the Fed’s September meeting minutes at 1800GMT with market watchers looking for insights on the future path of monetary policy.
Earlier, the Chicago Fed President, Charles Evans, speaking at a Bloomberg event in Zurich today, claimed that factors weighing on inflation might not be temporary and it makes him “nervous” when such factors are cited as explanations in inflation forecast surveys. He also said that there is no “harm in waiting longer to take more stock of the inflation situation”. Yet he acknowledged the strength of the US as well as of the global economy.
The dollar index dropped to a two-week low of 92.96 before it edged up to 93.07, being down by 0.23% on the day. Dollar/yen moved down by 0.18% to 112.25, whilst dollar/swissie declined by 0.30% to 0.9723. The safe-haven gold stood 0.10% higher at $1,288.70 per ounce.
A day after the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, signed the sovereignty of Catalonia but decided to freeze implementation in order to initiate dialogues with the Spanish government, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, called Puigdemont on Wednesday to clarify whether Catalonia is considered now independent. This action was said to be the first step over the course of phases (Article 155 or “nuclear option”) needed for the Spanish government to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy and therefore intervene in the running of the region – a measure never been used in Spain or in other European countries.
Euro/dollar extended its uptrend by 0.40% during the day, making a fresh two-week high of 1.1857. Euro/pound was also 0.40% up at 0.8976, while euro/yen gained 0.15%, rising to 132.96.
In the UK, the British Finance Minister, Philip Hammond, spoke in front of a parliamentary committee on Brexit on Wednesday, admitting that the government is making plans for all possibilities including the “no deal” prospect regarding Britain’s departure and its future relations with the block. Moreover, he argued that he would not make any financial commitments related to a “hard” Brexit scenario at the moment unless there is evidence on that outcome. Besides that, he suggested for discussions on the transitional period to speed up, supporting transitional arrangements have an important value probably until the start of the new year but as the time moves through 2018 “its value to everybody will diminish significantly”.
The pound was moving sideways around $1.3204.
Turning to energy markets, the monthly OPEC report released today increased the demand projections for 2018 for the third consecutive time, stating that demand for crude oil would be 33.06 million bpd next year, 230,000 bpd up from the previous forecast. In addition, the report reiterated the high degree of compliance between OPEC and non-OPEC members to curb the oil supply glut. However, oil prices retreated after the statement mentioned that OPEC’s production in September rose to the highest monthly level this year. WTI crude fell from a one-week high of $51.92 reached today to $50.81 per barrel, being 0.22% down on the day, while Brent declined by 0.41% to $56.38.
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