Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments today started a rally for the US dollar. His moderate tone, rather than the expected comments about monetary easing, has kept foreign exchange traders guessing.
Interestingly, since July 2011, the US dollar has risen against 16 of the major world currencies. The EUR/USD rate was 0.7959 as of 19:00 GMT on Thursday. The dollar trading rate also went up to 79.58 yen from 79.20 yen.
Against the Swiss franc, USD/CHF trading increased to 0.9561, slightly higher from the previous trading day. The pound, too, gained and the GBP/USD trading rate was at 1.5531.
Foreign exchange traders will have to wait and see as to how the next US trading session pans out.
Euro reaches 10 day high
On Thursday, the euro was at its highest level in 10 days. The euro reached a European session close of $1.2609, an increase of about 70 pips on the day.
Relatively strong demand at Spain’s bond auction added some stability to the euro rate. Spain managed to sell more than 2 billion euros of government bonds, trying to get financial infusion into its banking sector, without the need for a bailout. This has also shown that investors are again in risk taking mode.
Additionally, China’s interest rate cut and the news that European governments may take steps to strengthen their economies enabled the euro to gain against currencies of growing economies.
Today, foreign exchange traders dealing in the euro will be closely watching the US trade balance figure. If this figure is below expectations, it could lead to losses for the dollar against the euro.
Yen advances against major currencies
In Friday’s Asian trading session, the yen advanced against its major counterparts. It reached highs of 79.29 against the dollar, 99.33 against the euro, 122.81 against the pound and 82.71 against the Swiss franc. The yen then somewhat stabilized.
Japan also posted a current-account surplus today. This was the April figure, and was weaker than expected. This figure highlights the poor global demand that is affecting Japanese exports.
A weaker yen will enable export-centric stocks of Japanese automakers and electronic companies to rise. The euro looks set to reach the 100-yen mark after falling to lowest levels about a week back.
Oil prices up on China’s interest rate cut
China’s unexpected interest rate cut to boost the economy has helped increase oil prices.
Additionally, prices are rising on the sentiment that the Federal Reserve may provide a stimulus to the US economy. However, it is not known when the stimulus will be provided as the Federal Reserve Chairman has not provided explicit clues on the same. It is worth noting that previous rounds of economic stimuli have made stock markets rise and commodity prices increase.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, oil for July 2012 delivery was up to $85.94 a barrel (as per Europe’s Thursday afternoon trading). Brent crude for July 2012 delivery also registered gains to the tune of $101.44 per barrel.
The investment bank, Goldman Sachs, has stated in a report that it expects greater clarity on global policy issues from governments in the month of June itself. This clarity will help stabilize oil prices.
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