Investing.com — EUR/USD surged to near one-month highs, as a wave of soft U.S. economic data potentially increased the probability that the Federal Reserve could delay its next interest rate hike beyond the first quarter of 2016.
The currency pair traded in a broad range between 1.0855 and 1.0984 before settling at 1.0916, up 0.0051 or 0.47% on the session. The euro ended the week virtually flat against the dollar, down 0.15%. After tumbling approximately 10% against the dollar in 2015, the euro is up approximately 0.5% against its American counterpart over the first two weeks of the new year. The euro last eclipsed 1.10 versus the dollar on December 16.
EUR/USD likely gained support at 1.0538, the low from December 3 and was met with resistance at 1.1352, the high from Oct. 22.
On Friday morning, the University of Michigan’s Consumer Survey Center said in its mid-monthly flash report that U.S.consumer sentiment increased 0.7 points from the December final reading to 93.3, slightly above analysts’ expectations of 93.0. Shortly after, the U.S. Census Bureau said retail sales fell 0.1% last month, below analysts’ forecasts for a flat reading. It came one month after retail sales nationwide surged by 0.4% in November.
Within the report, sales in the general merchandise category fell sharply as apparel sales slumped by 0.9%. Sales in Electronics and Appliances also demonstrated weakness, pulling down the core reading. Retail sales, minus the volatile auto and gas category, remained unchanged, finishing far below consensus estimates for a 0.3% gain.
Separately, the U.S. Producer Price Index fell 0.2% in December nearly erasing a 0.3% gain from a month earlier. The Core PPI, which strips out food and energy prices, inched up 0.1%, in line with consensus estimates. Also on Friday, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said its Empire State Manufacturing Index plummeted to negative 19.37, extending losses from December’s revised reading of minus 6.21. The index fell to its lowest level since April, 2009. Industrial production, meanwhile, slipped 0.4%, while manufacturing production fell by 0.1% last month. Weakness in vehicle production, which fell by at least 1.5% for the second straight month, pulled down the overall reading.
The downbeat data could persuade the Federal Reserve to delay its next interest rate beyond the first quarter. On Friday morning, San Francisco Fed president John Williams said in a speech at the Economic Forecast Conference that further rate hikes by the U.S. central bank should be gradual. It came one day after St. Louis Fed president James Bullard cited lower inflation expectations and weakness in China as factors for why an imminent rate hike could be difficult to justify.
Any rate hikes by the Fed this year are viewed as bullish for the dollar, as foreign investors pile into the greenback in order to capitalize on higher yields.
Investors also digested dovish signals from the European Central Bank that it could be on the verge of approving further easing measures to stave off persistently low inflation and bolster economic growth throughout the euro zone. The minutes from the ECB’s December meeting, which were released on Thursday, showed that several members of its Governing Council were close to reducing its deposit rate deeper into negative territory. At a closely-watched meeting on Dec. 3, the ECB roiled global foreign exchange markets by approving only limited easing measures with its comprehensive asset-purchasing program.
Fluctuations in EUR/USD are expected to be minor until the ECB’s critical interest rate decision at its Governing Council’s meeting next Thursday in Frankfurt.
The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, lost more than 0.40% to an intraday low of 98.42, before closing at 98.99. The index remains near 12-month highs from December, when it eclipsed 100.00.
USD/JPY fell 0.86% to 117.04, while USD/CHF lost 0.40% to 1.008 as investors sought safety in the Yen and the Swiss franc following the release of the disappointing U.S. data.
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