US Dollar soars to 2018 high on strong retail sales, higher yields

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16 May 2018

thomasdodds

The Dollar soared to its strongest position, so far, this year on Tuesday, with a relatively solid set of retail sales data and a rise in the 10-year US Treasury yields back above 3%, sending the currency over half a percent higher for the day in trade-weighted terms.

R
etail sales in the US expanded a fairly solid 0.3% in April, while there was also a welcome upward revision in the March number. This supports the recent narrative that the US economy is expanding at a much faster pace than most other major economies, which could allow the Federal Reserve to raise rates at an accelerated pace this year.

Tuesday’s rally in the greenback was helped on its way by some soft macroeconomic news out of the Eurozone, with industrial production numbers being particularly sluggish. Output in the sector expanded in March, although growth of just 0.5% in the measure was below the 0.7% that economists had pencilled in. Earlier in the day, revised German GDP data also showed that Europe’s largest economy only grew by 0.3% in the first quarter of the year, versus the 0.4% preliminary estimate, its weakest pace since mid-2016.

With the recent downward trend in the EUR/USD rate reasserting itself in the past few trading sessions, Euro bulls will be hoping for an upside surprise in this morning’s Euro-area inflation data to help buck the trend. Aside from that, ECB President Draghi and members Praet and Cœuré will all be speaking at an event in Frankfurt throughout the afternoon.

Pound stumbles, Lira hits all-time low on central bank concerns

Sterling succumbed to broad US Dollar strength yesterday, with the UK currency slipping to its lowest level since December. Currency traders were quick to overlook Tuesday’s relatively solid labour report in favour of US Dollar strength. The report showed that earnings growth exceeded inflation in the UK, for the first time in a year in March, with wage growth, excluding bonuses, rising to its highest level since August 2015. With no major economic news out of the UK today, Sterling could be driven largely by events elsewhere.

Yesterday’s sharp rally in the greenback also wreaked havoc among a host of other major and emerging market currencies, with almost none spared from the sell-off. Both the volatile South African Rand and Colombian Peso lost almost 2% of their value, while the looming deadline on the new NAFTA trade pact kept the Canadian Dollar and Mexican Peso firmly on the back foot.

It was the Turkish Lira, however, that got the title for worst performer of the day. The currency crashed to a fresh record low level yesterday, extending its losses to over 5%, since the beginning of trading on Friday. President Erdogan’s insistence on lower interest rates in Turkey, despite spiraling levels of inflation, heightened concerns over the central bank’s inability to tame lofty price growth in the country.