The dollar is down today against the euro and some emerging market currencies, such as the Turkish lira, are rallying.
The news ostensibly behind the move is some data indicating that U.S. inflation slipped in August. The logic goes that with inflation sliding the Federal Reserve might hold off on an interest rate increase either at its September 26 meeting or its December 19 meeting.
Personally I think the likelihood that a slip in August inflation will derail the Fed’s schedule for the rest of 2018 is close to nil, none, nada.
I think what we’re seeing is a bounce as traders decide that the dollar has climbed so far so fast that it’s due for a pull back against other currencies.
And especially against the euro. The European Central Bank concluded its most recent meeting on monetary policy today with a press conference at which bank president Mario Draghi set new standards for refusing to say anything. “No,” he said, the bank didn’t discuss how it will reinvest maturing bonds in its portfolio. Questions from reporters about how the bank would respond to rising inflation were good questions, he noted, but not for discussion today. And “No,” he said, the bank didn’t discuss any possible effects from the U.S.-China tariff tiff. The press conference broke up well short of the hour allotted for reporters’ questions.
Which, of course, allowed traders to put any spin on bank policy they wanted to pick. Today, the opinion is that, for whatever reason, this total lack of action or information is good for the euro. The euro climbed 0.5% today against the dollar and that took the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index down 0.2%. At $1.1684 the euro is the strongest it’s been in–wait for it–two weeks.
The lira, the emerging market currency that started the whole currency crisis (although the Argentine peso hasn’t been far behind) jumped as Turkey’s central bank raised interest rates 6.25 percentage points to 24% from 17.75% (still well short of Argentina’s 60%). The currency gave back some of its early gains to finish the day up 4.1%.
On confirmation of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal story that the United States and China were seeking to resume trade talks, U.S. stocks have climbed today with the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index ahead 0.51% as of 3 p.m. New York time; the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.49%; and the NASDAQ Composite climbing 0.68%. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) was higher by 1.46%. The CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX) was down 5.63% to 12.40. West Texas Intermediate crude was off 2.32% and Brent crude was down 1.69%.
A continuation of this bounce through Friday depends largely, I think, on the retail sales numbers from China due to be released tomorrow. If they show growth in China slipping, then I think we’ll see a reversal of today’s optimistic trades. A pick up in retail sales will keep the bounce going into next week.