Dollar Bid as Rates Firm

The US dollar is moving higher against nearly all the other major foreign
currencies today. 
As far as we can tell, the driving force remains interested rate considerations.  US rates
are rising in absolute terms and about
Europe and Japan.  The US 10-year yield is moving above the downtrend that
has been in place since the day after the Fed hiked rates last December. 
It is now near 2.53%.  The US two-year yield is making new multiyear highs

At the same time, official, investors and collateral-related demand for
German paper have continued to widen the interest rate differential. 
The correlation (60-day, percentage change) between the rate differentials and
the euro-dollar and dollar-yen exchange rates remains high.

The euro is lower for the third session.  Recall that last Friday; the euro snapped a three-day slide.  It is
now retraced
61.8% of its bounce (~$1.0550).  The euro was unable
to resurface above $1.06 in North America yesterday,
and this will likely continue to cap the single currency ahead of the ECB
meeting tomorrow.  The strong German
(January 2.8% and December revised to -2.4% from -3.0%) and Spain (0.3% vs.
consensus 0.2%) were largely ignored by the market
.  There had been
some talk last week that the ECB could alter its forward guidance at tomorrow’s
meeting, but most seem to be
downplaying the likelihood in recent days.  

The US 10-year yield is higher for the eighth consecutive session. 
Over this span, the dollar has risen
against the yen in six sessions, including today.  That said, the ranges
remain tight.  For the third day, the dollar is in a JPY113.50 to the JPY114.15 range.  The small upward
revision to Q4 16 GDP was of little importance to trading. The upward revision
to 0.3% from 0.2% left consumption flat and seemed to be mostly a function of
slightly stronger capex, which appears
tied to the export sector.  It was the fourth consecutive quarter that the
world’s third-largest economy expanded in
three years. The key test for the dollar comes near JPY115.00.  

China surprised the market.  Despite being well aware of
distortions caused by the Lunar New Year, investors were surprised by the news that China recorded a trade deficit in
February.  The  $9.15 bln shortfall is the first since February
2014.  Exports collapsed, falling 1.3% after rising 7.9% year-over-year in
January.  The median estimate in the Bloomberg survey was for a 14%
increase.  Imports surged 38.1% (16.7% in January), compared with the
median estimate of 20%.   The recorded trade deficit and the build in
reserves reported yesterday are not preventing new yuan weakness.  The
dollar is edging above CNY6.91 to reach its highest level since mid-January. 
It has nearly retraced 61.8% of this year’s fall (~CNY6.9135).  It seems
more a case of dollar strength then yuan weakness.  

Sterling continues to trade like a dog.  Last Friday was the
only session since February 23 that has
not fallen.  Once it broke $1.24, it
has not looked back.  Perhaps the Gilt market is awaiting Hammond’s budget, but the foreign exchange market is
not.  Sterling is extending its losses below $1.22.  We continue to
look for a test on the two-point trendline from the spikes of the flash crash
last October and the mid-January dip below $1.20.  It is found near 1.2050 and edges up to about $1.2065 by
next Wednesday (when the Fed meets and the Dutch hold elections). 

Yesterday the S&P 500 posted its first consecutive losses since the
end of January.
  Asia followed America’s lead, and the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index was off 0.2%, snapping a
two-day advance.  European shares firmer as the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 is
trying to snap a four-day drop (for a total drop of 1%). Industrial metals are
stabilizing.  Copper is firmer after its four-day slide.  Chinese
steel futures hit eight-day lows, though iron ore eked out a small gain (0.5%)
after being up nearly two percent earlier.     Higher API
oil inventory estimate weighs on oil prices today.

The Australian dollar has given up yesterday’s gains and is approaching
the multi-week low set before the weekend near $0.7545.
  Below there,
support is seen in the $0.7500-$0.7520
area.  The US dollar is making near highs against the Canadian dollar and is
approaching the year’s high set on January 3 near CAD1.3460.  

The ADP estimate of US private sector employment is the most important
report today. 
  A gain of around 190k is expected.  Productivity and unit labor costs for Q4 16 that
will also be reported are functions of
last week’s revised GDP report.  Recall that contrary to expectations
there was no upward revision and that warns of risks to survey expectations of
a small increase in productivity and a tick down in unit labor costs. 
Canada reports Q4 productivity and housing starts and permits.  


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