Euro surges as investors see ECB done with stimulus

US dollar and Euro notes are seen in this November 7, 2016 picture illustration. — Reuters pic
US dollar and Euro notes are seen in this November 7, 2016 picture illustration. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Sept 13 — The euro rocketed to a 17-day high against the dollar today as German government bond yields surged on the back of investors thinking the European Central Bank was done stimulating the ailing euro zone economy after cutting rates yesterday.

The central bank cut its deposit interest rate by 10 basis points to a record low of minus 0.5 per cent and said it would restart bond purchases at a rate of €20 billion a month from Nov. 1 for an indefinite time.

The revived bond purchases exceeded many expectations because they are set to run until “shortly before” the ECB raises interest rates. Given that markets do not expect rates to rise for nearly a decade, such a formulation suggests that purchases could go on for years, possibly through most of Christine Lagarde’s term leading the bank.

As he announced the monetary stimulus package, ECB President Mario Draghi also emphasized on the importance of fiscal stimulus and structural reforms, essentially saying that only a combination of both monetary and fiscal stimulus could revive European growth.

The ECB “gave the impression to the market that we’re pretty much done” with monetary policy stimulus, said Vasileios Gkionakis, global head of fx strategy at Lombard Odier, adding that “there’s no denial that the ECB delivered on all fronts.”

“The main message (from the ECB) is that we’ve seen the bottom in the euro/dollar,” Gkionakis said.

The euro was up 0.3 per cent at US$1.1096 after jumping earlier to US$1.11095, its highest since Aug. 27. The 10-year German Bund yield surged to a six-week high of negative 0.48 per cent .

The day before, the common currency briefly went below US$1.10. Deutsche Bank had projected the euro would fall below US$1.10 and now that it had, the German bank said it was now neutral on the common currency.

“We think the risks on the euro are now turning more two-sided,” said George Saravelos, Deutsche’s currency strategist, in a note, adding he was “not willing to turn bullish just yet.”

“We believe EUR/USD will remain stuck around 1.10,” he said.

The dollar rose overnight against the Japanese yen – after Donald Trump said he would not rule out an interim trade pact with China – then gave back some of those gains.

Washington and Beijing are preparing for new rounds of talks aimed at curbing their trade war, which has dragged on for more than a year, roiling financial markets and threatening to push other economies into recession. The yen, widely considered a safe-haven currency, tends to rise during times of heightened economic or market stress and vice versa.

The greenback was last down 0.1 per cent at 107.99 versus the yen after surging to a six-weeks high of 108.265.

The Chinese yuan also strengthened in the offshore market to a four-week high of 7.0330 versus the dollar on the back of Sino-US trade optimism. Dollar/yuan was last down 0.3 per cent at 7.0752.

“We’ve managed to scale back our pessimism about US-China trade talks, which is a supportive factor for now,” said Takuya Kanda, general manager of research at Gaitame.com Research Institute in Tokyo.

Elsewhere, receding fears of a no-deal Brexit and dollar weakness pushed the pound to a seven-week high of US$1.2435 today. Investors trimmed their expectations of a no-deal Brexit after Northern Ireland’s largest political party said it may agree on certain European Union rules after Britain exist the EU, even though it later denied those comments. Against the euro, the gains were more constrained, with euro/sterling last down 0.5 per cent at 89.25 pence. — Reuters

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