Euro inches higher ahead of ECB; loonie stands tall after BoC rate hike

The euro held firm on Thursday ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting, while the Canadian dollar hovered at two-year highs after the Bank of Canada surprised many by raising interest rates.

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.1928 EUR=, although it was still trading below last week’s high of $1.2070, its highest level since January 2015.

The common currency has lost some momentum since hitting that 2-1/2 year peak, weighed down by rising expectations that a stronger euro could slow the European Central Bank’s plans to rein in its bond-buying stimulus.

Only 15 of 66 economists polled by Reuters said they expect the ECB to announce a reduction of its monthly asset purchases at Thursday’s ECB policy meeting — a sharp reversal from a month ago when slightly over half of respondents expected such a move.

The focus is on whether ECB President Mario Draghi expresses any concerns about the euro’s recent strength.

“The market expects him (Draghi) to say something about it,” said Tareck Horchani, head of sales trading in Asia Pacific for Saxo Markets in Singapore, referring to the euro’s rise.

The euro could rally if the ECB and Draghi don’t mention anything about the euro’s strength, Horchani said.

If they do, and the euro sells off, the common currency may find support in the $1.17 to $1.18 area in the near term, Horchani added.

LOONIE LIFTS OFF

The Canadian dollar last traded at C$1.2238 CAD=D3 per U.S. dollar. On Wednesday, it had scaled a high of C$1.2140, its highest level since June 2015.

That rally came after the Bank of Canada raised interest rates by 25 basis points to 1 percent on Wednesday, surprising many, and left the door open to more rate hikes in 2017.

The U.S. dollar eased 0.2 percent to 109.07 yen JPY=, staying above a one-week low of 108.45 yen set on Wednesday.

Although the dollar gained a lift on Wednesday, helped by relief over U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise deal with the Democrats on extending the debt limit, lingering concerns over North Korea related tensions may limit the dollar’s upside versus the Japanese currency, said Saxo Market’s Horchani.

Japan is the world’s largest net creditor nation, and at times of uncertainty traders assume Japanese repatriation from foreign countries will eclipse foreign investors’ selling of Japanese assets.

As a result, the yen has continued to behave as a safe-haven currency despite Japan’s proximity to North Korea.

Trump agreed with Democrats in Congress on Wednesday to extend the U.S. debt limit and provide government funding until Dec. 15, potentially avoiding an unprecedented default on U.S. government debt.

If passed by the Republican-led Congress, the agreement would keep the government funded at the outset of the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 and provide aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-forex/euro-inches-higher-ahead-of-ecb-loonie-stands-tall-after-boc-rate-hike-idUSKCN1BI02L

Point Of View:

Euro steadies ahead  of ECB conference today while Canadian dollar rallied after a surprise overnight rate hike.

Euro lost a bit of its strength as market sentiment that stronger euro will slow ECB plan to rein in its bond-buying stimulus.

The focus of the ECB conference is whether Mario Draghi will talk down the currency.

If Draghi did not mention about the current strength of euro, euro is likely to further rally, if not there will be a drop in euro.

Dollar steadies as President Trump agreed to extend U.S. debt limit till end of December this year.

However, with geopolitical risk and lesser chance of another rate hike this year, dollar is still relatively weak against its peers.