FOMC minutes send USD a little higher


The dollar strengthened slightly, on average, against the other ten most actively-traded currencies. They were mostly not big gains though. The only appreciable one was against the AUD, where the dollar added 0.8% as the Aussie was knocked back by rate cut fears and a Chinese ban on coal imports.

There were no US ecostats of any note. The main highlight was the minutes of January's Federal Open Market Committee meeting. They contained nothing startling. As suspected, the Fed is preparing a plan to wind down its "quantitative tightening" action - the off loading of assets built up during the quantitative easing programs. It is still being "patient" with interest rates but there was some debate among the committee as to how long that patience will last. Overall, the tone of the minutes was a little less dovish than investors had bargained for, hence the USD's modest gains.


The euro is 0.2% lower on the day, partly because of the USD's broadly upward progress and partly as a result of this morning's crop of provisional purchasing managers' index readings. There was no clear trend, with the EUR changing direction several times.

Yesterday's "official" measure of consumer confidence from the European Commission was a little better than expected, improving by half a point to -7.4. Many of today's provisional PMIs beat forecast too, but that is not to say they were good. The real question marks were raised by manufacturing in Germany and pan-Euroland. On a scale where 50 represents stagnation Germany scored 47.6 and the euro zone came in at 49.2. Both were worse than expected. Earlier inflation readings of 1.4% from Germany and France were not surprising but they were clearly well adrift from the European Central Bank's 2% target.


Give or take a dozen ticks the Loonie is unchanged on the day against the USD, having covered a range of no more than half a cent. It promised much during the early New York session before giving it all back in the afternoon and overnight.

The CAD's early optimism related to higher oil prices: WTI crude went up by 2.2% to its highest level this year. However, there was no follow-through. The rally stalled and the CAD stalled with it. There were no Canadian ecostats on Wednesday. Today brings wholesale sales and ADP's employment change figure. More important than those, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz will be speaking at 12:35ET. His topic is monetary policy, so it could mean some movement for the CAD.


There was no way the GBP was going to repeat Tuesday's stellar performance. The only real question was how much it would have to give back. The answer, as it turned out, was not much at all: it was unchanged, on average, against the other major currencies and lost just 0.2% to the USD.

Yesterday's sole UK ecostat was the Confederation of British Industry's Industrial Trends Survey, which monitors manufacturers' order books. It improved by seven points to 6. Today the Office of National Statistics announced a net repayment of £15.8 billion of government debt in January, more than the expected £1 billion. The main support for sterling came not from the data but from expectation that the government is close to a Brexit deal with the EU that the prime minister can sell to parliament. There was no breakthrough yesterday when Theresa May visited Brussels but the talks are continuing.


It was another day of no change for the yen.

And it was almost another day of no economic data. The only one on offer overnight was the Nikkei/Markit manufacturing PMI. The report did not make great reading, as the index fell to a 32-month low of 48.5 in February, two points lower on the month, and future expectations turned negative for the first time since November 2012. There was no immediate reaction from the JPY, though it did turn lower an hour later.

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