By Ambar Warrick
Investing.com — Most Asian currencies moved in a flat-to-low range on Tuesday as growing concerns over the path of U.S. monetary policy kept traders wary of risk-driven assets, while stronger-than-expected Chinese economic data did little to improve sentiment.
rose slightly after data showed that in the first three months of 2023 grew a bigger-than-expected 4.5%, after the country relaxed most anti-COVID restrictions earlier this year.
While the reading indicates that an economic recovery in the country is on track, other readings furthered the notion that a rebound has so far been largely uneven. Softer-than-expected data in particular highlighted continued weakness in the manufacturing sector.
Investment in China’s property sector also slowed, a trend that could weigh on growth later this year. Still, a recovery in China bodes well for the broader Asian economy, given the country’s position as a dominant trading hub.
But most other Asian currencies fell on Tuesday, coming under pressure from strength in the dollar and Treasury yields as markets reassessed their expectations for how high U.S. interest rates will rise.
Risk-heavy Southeast Asian currencies bore the brunt of selling, with the and the down 0.4% each. The was flat after falling sharply overnight, also coming under pressure from new Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda stating that the bank’s ultra-loose policy will remain for now.
Among outliers for the day, the rose 0.2% as the minutes of the Reserve Bank’s recent meeting showed that the bank may yet hike interest rates further, despite a pause in April.
The and fell slightly on Tuesday, but marked a strong recovery from one-year lows over the past two sessions. show that markets are pricing in a nearly 90% chance the Fed will hike rates by 25 basis points (bps) in May, with a small, but growing possibility of a similar hike in June.
Treasury yields also rose in overnight trade, as hawkish signals from Fed officials and some stronger-than-expected data pushed up fears of more hikes. Focus is now on a slew of Fed speakers in the coming days, ahead of the on May 3.
The prospect of rising U.S. interest rates bodes poorly for Asian currencies, given that it narrows the gap between risky and low-risk yields. Bank of International Settlements head Agustín Carstens also warned that interest rates may need to stay higher for longer due to high inflation and rising risks of instability in the global economy.
Dollar drifts higher as US debt ceiling in spotlight
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A picture illustration shows U.S. 100-dollar bank notes taken in Tokyo August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar edged higher on Tuesday in choppy trading, with no clear direction, as investors kept an eye on debt ceiling talks to avert a possible default that could reverberate across asset markets and damage confidence in the world’s largest economy.
The , a measure of the greenback’s value against six major currencies, was up 0.2% on the day at 102.61. Against the yen, the greenback rose 0.2% to 136.315 yen
Democratic President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy’s U.S. debt ceiling negotiations ended on Tuesday after less than an hour, as the looming fear of an unprecedented American debt default prompted Biden to cut short an upcoming Asia trip. But the meeting ended on an upbeat and unexpected note as McCarthy, coming out of the meeting with Biden and other congressional leaders, said, “It is possible to get a deal by the end of the week.”
Both parties agree on the need for urgent action.
“Clearly, to the extent that there is a default risk, it would be chaotic. The question is in a default, can you have Treasuries as collateral in a world that’s highly levered?” said Axel Merk, president and chief investment officer at Merk Investments in Palo Alto, California.
Historically speaking, the U.S. dollar tends to rally in times when there is financial stress and in periods of deleveraging as investors scramble to unwind risky bets.
“But you don’t want Treasury bills,” Merk said. “So it’s very difficult to suggest that we would have a dollar rally in that deleveraging. I would say it’s very hard to predict what will happen other than volatility might be dramatic.”
In afternoon trading, the euro slipped 0.1% versus the dollar to $1.0858, while sterling fell 0.4% to $1.2478.
The dollar earlier rose after U.S. retail sales rose less than expected in April, but details showed that the underlying trend remained solid. This suggested that consumer spending likely remained strong early in the second quarter.
Retail sales rose 0.4% last month. Data for March was revised slightly lower to show sales dropping 0.7% instead of 0.6% as previously reported.
In line with the generally upbeat economic picture, industrial production jumped 1% in April, easily topping expectations for a flat reading and up slightly from the revised 0.8% increase in March.
The reports suggested that while the market widely expects the Federal Reserve to pause increasing rates at the next meeting, a hike in borrowing costs was not off the table.
“While there were some mixed signals in today’s various data reports, on net most were favorable and early in the quarter we’re continuing to track some upside risk to our 1.0% 1Q GDP growth projection,” wrote Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan, in a research note.
“Even so, given all the dark clouds on the horizon, we continue to see the Fed on hold at the next meeting in mid-June.”
Richmond Federal Reserve President Thomas Barkin on Tuesday doubled down though on the higher-for-longer mantra. He said he likes the “optionality” implied in the central bank’s latest policy statement, but he is “comfortable” with raising interest rates further if that is what is needed to lower inflation.
That has been the message from several Fed officials over the last week.
Currency bid prices at 3:54PM (1954 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Dollar index 102.6200 102.4300 +0.20% -0.841% +102.6900 +102.1900
Euro/Dollar $1.0858 $1.0874 -0.14% +1.34% +$1.0905 +$1.0855
Dollar/Yen 136.3000 136.0950 +0.16% +3.97% +136.6750 +135.6800
Euro/Yen 147.99 148.01 -0.01% +5.48% +148.5000 +147.6200
Dollar/Swiss 0.8965 0.8956 +0.09% -3.05% +0.8970 +0.8920
Sterling/Dollar $1.2478 $1.2531 -0.42% +3.18% +$1.2546 +$1.2466
Dollar/Canadian 1.3481 1.3466 +0.13% -0.49% +1.3493 +1.3405
Aussie/Dollar $0.6653 $0.6700 -0.70% -2.40% +$0.6710 +$0.6651
Euro/Swiss 0.9734 0.9739 -0.05% -1.63% +0.9742 +0.9720
Euro/Sterling 0.8700 0.8678 +0.25% -1.63% +0.8718 +0.8680
NZ $0.6226 $0.6243 -0.14% -1.82% +$0.6260 +$0.6224
Dollar/Norway 10.7220 10.6000 +1.10% +9.20% +10.7370 +10.5930
Euro/Norway 11.6436 11.5214 +1.06% +10.96% +11.6725 +11.5195
Dollar/Sweden 10.4087 10.3480 +0.49% +0.01% +10.4251 +10.3188
Euro/Sweden 11.3008 11.2454 +0.49% +1.36% +11.3218 +11.2411
Column-Yuan won’t be FX reserve currency if no one buys China’s bonds: McGeever
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An advertisement poster promoting China’s renminbi (RMB) or yuan , U.S. dollar and Euro exchange services is seen outside at foreign exchange store in Hong Kong, China August 13, 2015. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
By Jamie McGeever
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – faces significant long-term obstacles to becoming a global reserve currency of any great import, but the biggest challenge in the near term is the fact that nobody wants to buy Chinese bonds.
Foreign investors have been dumping Chinese bonds ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, wary that Beijing’s ties to Moscow could potentially expose overseas holders of Chinese assets to international sanctions.
The reversal was sudden – non-residents had poured money into Chinese debt securities almost every single month over the preceding decade – and so far, it has been sustained.
Figures through March this year compiled by macroeconomic data research firm Exante Data show that foreigners have been heavy sellers of Chinese bonds every month bar one since Russia invaded Ukraine.
“It is very hard to create a reserve currency, without attractive reserve assets. China has a problem. It wants foreigners to buy bonds but they have been selling since early 2022,” says Jens Nordvig, founder and CEO of Exante Data.
“Both the private sector and the official sector are reducing yuan exposure within their fixed income portfolios,” Nordvig adds.
Exante Data’s figures show foreign investors bought a net $558 billion of Chinese bonds between 2010 and 2021. From February last year through March this year they sold $115 billion.
The global ‘de-dollarization’ debate has found a new lease of life recently.
The dollar’s nominal share of global reserves is 58.35%, according to the International Monetary Fund’s currency composition of official foreign exchange reserves, or ‘Cofer’ data, the lowest since the euro’s launch in 1999.
Several countries, including Brazil and other major emerging economies in Asia and the Middle East, have called for trade in oil, commodities and other global goods to be invoiced in non-dollar currencies.
To be sure, the renminbi’s share of world FX reserves has more than doubled in the last seven years to 2.69%, according to the IMF’s Cofer data.
It has grown much faster than the yen, sterling, and currencies like the Australian and Canadian dollars and Swiss franc that are bundled together in the ‘others’ category in the Cofer data. But from a much lower base.
The nominal amount of global reserves held in renminbi was $298 billion at the end of last year, down from a peak of $337 billion 12 months earlier.
But in a pool of $12 trillion global reserves, of which nearly 80% is denominated in dollars and euros, these are very small numbers. There is a long way to go for the yuan to reach even the levels of sterling and the yen at 4.95% and 5.50%, respectively.
Any currency that has designs on attaining international reserve status must meet several criteria and fulfill several roles.
It should be widely accepted as a unit of reserve for central banks, an accounting unit for international trade, and a transaction currency for trading in global financial assets like equities and bonds.
Beijing has gradually allowed more institutions and central banks to enter the yuan-denominated bond market over the past two decades by relaxing rules around quotas, lock-up periods and registration requirements.
But as IIF economist Jonathan Fortun notes, it is a slow and uneven process, which will be made even slower and more uneven by the heavy selling of Chinese bonds recently.
“Any episode of large outflows concentrated in a single locale, as has been the case of China for much of last year, would be detrimental for a currency to achieve reserve status,” Fortun said.
The IIF’s capital flows data shows some minimal net inflows into China in recent months, but paints a broadly similar picture: demand for Chinese debt has evaporated.
Reluctance to own Chinese bonds comes amid growing pressure form Washington on its Group of Seven allies to impose restrictions on certain investments in China with national security implications. It didn’t make it into the final G7 communique, suggesting other G7 members are less enthusiastic.
But Washington is likely to keep pressing its allies to take a stand against what it considers Beijing’s use of “economic coercion” against other countries.
Beijing, in turn, could view this as the thin end of the wedge, effectively a call for companies, institutions and investors in some of the world’s richest nations to steer clear of China and allocate capital elsewhere.
Which is what bond investors, at least, are already doing.
(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.)
(By Jamie McGeever; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
Dollar stabilizes near five-week high ahead of more debt ceiling talks
Investing.com – The U.S. dollar stabilized in early European trade Tuesday, just off a five-week high helped by its safe haven status as the standoff in Washington over the U.S. debt ceiling continued.
At 03:15 ET (07:15 GMT), the , which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, traded largely flat at 102.250.
The potential for a U.S. default of its debts if a deal is not done to lift the country’s borrowing limit, which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reiterated could be hit as soon as June 1, has helped the dollar push higher of late, with traders seeking the greenback given it is often used as a safe haven in times of stress.
The main parties are expected to meet once more later Tuesday, with President Joe Biden expressing confidence a deal can be done, but Republican House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Monday that the two sides were still far apart.
“Unless we see truly encouraging progress, investors’ fears may keep growing,” said analysts at ING, in a note. “Barring positive news on this end, we think the balance of risks remains tilted to the upside for the dollar for now, which should see safe-haven flows as risk sentiment stays subdued.”
Aside from this, traders are likely to focus on the release of U.S. data for April, which is expected to show sales grew 0.8% on the month in April, an improvement from the dramatic slump of 0.6% last month.
The raised interest rates last week for a 10th straight time, but hinted that it may be about to pause its aggressive policy tightening as it studies incoming economic data and assesses the impact of the tightening to date.
Inflation remained elevated in April, even if slightly lower than the prior month, and a number of Fed officials have said in separate addresses that interest rates were likely to stay higher for longer if prices continue to remain substantially above the Fed’s 2% target.
Elsewhere, rose 0.1% to 1.0880, after bouncing off a five-week low overnight, ahead of the release of preliminary first quarter for the euro zone.
This is expected to show the region barely scraped growth in the first three months of the year, rising 0.1% on the quarter and 1.3% on an annual basis.
Also of interest will be the for May, which is expected to show a deterioration of sentiment in the eurozone’s largest economy.
fell 0.3% to 1.2494 after the U.K. unexpectedly rose to 3.9% in the three months to March, raising the likelihood of the Bank of England pausing its run of increases when it next meets in June.
dropped 0.3% to 135.78, fell 0.3% to 0.6683, while rose 0.2% to 6.9643 with the yuan trading near a two-month low after Chinese data showed and grew less than expected in April.
rose 0.1% to 19.6861 as Turkey’s presidential race heads to a runoff with incumbent Tayyip Erdogan leading his opposition rival.
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