The US dollar struggled throughout last night's session, the index losing around 1.2%, despite only modest gains in equities. Moody's said the US sovereign rating was at risk if the dollar was challenged as the main reserve currency, and Chinese officials were expecting Q2 GDP to be 8%, helping risk currencies. The S&P500 is up 0.2% near the close of an undramatic session. The US 2yr treasury auction saw record high foreign demand, as central banks seek to weaken their own currencies, but also shorten duration due to perceived inflation risk. 10yr notes rallied 5bp. Credit spreads were higher, particularly emerging markets like Russia (24bp wider).
EUR rallied without interruption from around 1.3850, where it hovered during the Sydney session, to 1.4108. ECB's Weber made some hawkish statements around London, saying they do not currently plan to take further monetary policy steps, and that too much liquidity can cause price bubbles. GBP bucked the lower dollar trend early London after BOS's Dale tried talking down the currency, but the 1.6210 low became a launching pad for a 2.5 cent rally.
AUD rallied from 0.7800 to 0.7980, and is currently consolidating around 0.7950.
NZD outperformed most, from 0.6255 to 0.6420, taking a breather just under 0.6400. AUD/NZD fell to 1.2400 major support, locked in a tight 1.2400-1.2450 range.
US Richmond Fed index up from 4 to 6 in June. The Richmond Fed factory survey built upon its May strength in June, with orders growing (not just less negative) for the second month running and shipments growth slower but still positive. The jobs measure continued to improve too. Richmond is now the regional Fed survey "star-performer", with all the others still pointing to manufacturing sector contraction (at varying paces). We doubt that Richmond accurately reflects trends in the industrial sector nationally.
US existing home sales rose 2.4% in both April and May, their first back to back monthly gains since Q3 2005! So although the 2.4% rise in May was not as strong as pending sales data suggested might be the case, the report still adds to the sense that the US housing market might be slowly starting to work its way through its problems. Prices remain very weak, down 16.8% yr, and that is helping to clear the backlog of unsold homes, which was equivalent to over 11 months' worth of the prevailing sales pace through much of last year, but was back below 10 months' worth in May. The separate FHFA government house price measure, based on homes that have been sold at least twice and financed via Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, continued to drift lower in April for a less steep -6.8% yr annual pace of decline.
Euroland advance PMI surveys for June showed further moderation in the pace of factory sector contraction (42.4 in June from 40.7) but a slightly weaker services sector reading (44.5 from 44.8), after several months of improvement, adding weight to the view that continental Europe is not participating in the apparent "bottoming out phase" as clearly as the other north Atlantic economies. That said, German consumer confidence rose from 2.6 to 2.9 in the latest GfK survey, labelled July but conducted in early June. That is the strongest result since 3.6 in "July" last year.
UK home loans update. The number of new mortgages approved by UK banks rose to a new 2009 high of 31.2k in May, consistent with reports that home loans are a little less difficult to get than earlier this year. Approvals bottomed out at 18k per month in Nov last year (down from their 87.5k peak earlier this decade).
The NZD has been in a 0.62 to 0.65 sideways range for the past 10 days, but as long as 0.66 holds on the topside, we remain bearish over the next few months, driven by a belief the USD has been oversold and data expectations are likely to be disappointed. Today's NZ consumer confidence report may support the NZD briefly, and tonight's FOMC meeting will be important for clues regarding further quantitative easing.
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