USD wins for the first time this month


The dollar was top dog on Thursday for the first time this month, strengthening by an average of 0.3% against the other ten most actively-traded currencies. It appears that investors saw another escalation in the trade war as increasing the upward pressure on inflation and increasing the chances of higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve.

The US economic statistics were all respectable, though not perhaps of sufficient importance to have much effect on the currency. Housing starts were up by 5.7% in April, less than the expected 9.0% bump, and building permits increased by 0.6%. Initial and continuing jobless claims were both fewer than forecast. The Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index almost doubled to 16.6, indicating "continued growth for the region's manufacturing sector".


This morning's euro zone ecostats covered April's consumer prices and construction output for March. All of the numbers matched or exceeded analysts' predictions. The 0.3% fall in construction beat the forecast 0.8% fall: inflation at 1.7% was as expected and unchanged on the month.

The EUR has given up half a US cent on the day, 0.4%. It is 0.4% lower on the week against the USD.


A rise of just under 1% in the price of WTI crude did little for the CAD. It is 0.6% lower on the day against the USD. The 2.1% monthly increase in manufacturing shipments, reported for March, did the Loonie no good either: it strengthened only briefly following the news before continuing its downward drift.

The Loonie did nothing wrong on Thursday. Its loss was a by-product of the USD's newly-regained popularity and at least partly related to heightened trade tensions.


For a third day there were no UK economic data on the agenda. And for a fourth successive day the GBP was the weakest performer among the major currencies, losing 0.4% to the USD. It is down by 1.7% from its position at the beginning of the week.

Yet again it was Brexit that did the damage, this time because of likely changes at the top of government. The ruling Conservative party's parliamentary executive committee has given prime minister Theresa May until the beginning of next month to submit a timetable for her departure.  She will try one more time to get her EU withdrawal bill through the Commons and then, win or lose, she must go. The particular concern among investors is that she could be replaced by Boris Johnson. They see him as a populist chancer who would be unafraid to take Britain out of the EU on WTO terms and hope for the best.


As the USD regained its mojo the safe-haven currencies were left behind, but not far behind. The JPY is down by just 0.1% on the day.

The only Japanese statistic was the Tertiary index of industrial activity.  At -0.4% it was in line with expectations.

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