Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

The European Central Bank expectedly kept the key interest rates unchanged

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Kelvin Reese | 28 January, 2018, 00:39

The single currency scaled $1.24 overnight for the first time in over three years, crowning a stellar rise over the past 2-1/2 months from $1.1608 in the first week of November.

The U.S. dollar reversed losses on Thursday when President Donald Trump said he wanted a "strong dollar", a day after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he welcomed a weaker greenback, which moved the currency lower against the euro.

"In other words, he said very little really, but he said it under snow-plastered slopes and he was speaking to a market where dollar bulls have been under the cosh". The market was also waiting in anticipation for Draghi to make his press conference later in the day and a part of the market was expecting him to talk down the euro as it felt that the European Central Bank would be uncomfortable with the quick and unfettered rise of the euro against the other currencies, especially the dollar.

Even as the euro zone economy roars ahead, a strong euro threatens to dampen inflation and endanger the work done by years of unprecedented stimulus, probably forcing Draghi to pour cold water on rising expectations that the European Central Bank is speeding towards an interest rate hike. But rapid economic growth and the likely end of the bond buys later this year justify some currency strength.

The yield on Germany's 10-year government bond, the benchmark for the region, was lower 1.6 bps at 0.515 percent, moving further off the recent five-month high of 0.54 percent hit in early January.

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The purchases, already twice reduced, are set to run until the end of September and investors are betting on their end in the fourth quarter.

Inflation is also years away from rising back to the ECB's target of 2 percent, so Draghi can hardly afford any big currency swings.

Yields on most euro zone government bonds, particularly the higher-rated ones, have risen in recent weeks as a booming euro zone economy fuels inflation expectations and bets that the European Central Bank would withdraw its 2.55 trillion euro bond-buying scheme and hike rates sooner rather than later. Its rate of minus 0.4 percent on deposits it takes from commercial banks was also unchanged.

"The euro's strong performance at the start of 2018 has been aided by upbeat" economic data, said Stamenkovic at NFS Macro.

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