Thursday, January 5, 2017

 

Dollar falls as China, Mexico move to boost currencies

The dollar retreated on Thursday (Jan 5) against other leading currencies after Chinese and Mexican officials took steps to strengthen their currencies.

Foreign exchange markets were in focus on a day of drift for global stocks, with major indices in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt ending little changed.

The moves by China and Mexico come ahead of the Jan 20 inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has accused both countries of taking advantage of the United States on trade.

The offshore yuan racked up two-day gains of 1.8 per cent, the biggest on record, Bloomberg reported, as China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange moved to curb massive capital flight in response to a sharp drop in the yuan against the dollar.

Individuals wishing to convert yuan to foreign currencies will now will have to provide more detailed information to their banks, the Chinese agency said.

The Mexican peso rallied after the country's central bank sold an undisclosed number of US dollars in its first such intervention since Trump won the US presidential election on Nov 8.

The Mexican peso immediately rose 0.9 per cent against the dollar, but later gave back most of the gains.

"They are motivated by the strength of the dollar," BK Asset Management managing partner Kathy Lien said of the Chinese and Mexico actions.

The dollar also fell sharply against the euro and the yen.

But Lien said the weakness in the dollar likely stemmed in part from uncertainty about Friday's US government jobs report after some disappointing US data in recent days, including from private payrolls firm ADP showing weaker-than-expected hiring.

"They're taking these moves in a period when there seems to be a little bit more uncertainty about the dollar," Lien said.

The weakness in the dollar came after Wednesday's Federal Reserve minutes showed monetary policymakers were weighing the uncertain impact of Trump's expected fiscal stimulus policies, and the possibility they might have to raise rates more quickly.

But some analysts said the minutes suggested the Fed may not be as aggressive about further interest rate hikes as currency markets have expected.

"After the Fed minutes ... the focus shifts to the outlook for US jobs," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG trading group. "The onus is now on the dollar bulls to prove that further advances in the greenback are warranted."

TRUMP TARGETS TOYOTA

Among individual companies, most US retailers tumbled following disappointing holiday sales from department stores Macy's and Kohl's.

An exception was Amazon, which surged 3.1 per cent as the online retailer's Alexa voice-controlled device emerged as a major presence at the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as several companies showcased new products that work with the artificial intelligence application.

US shares of Toyota lost 0.6 per cent after the Japanese automaker became the latest company to be the target of threats by Trump over any cars exported from Mexico to the United States.

Toyota said its US production would not fall as a result of a new plant under construction in Mexico.

Meanwhile, oil prices finished with modest gains following reports Saudi Arabia was complying fully with production cuts agreed with OPEC.

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