The U.S. Dollar is currently losing ground against most of its counterparts following disappointing data for the fourth quarter. Gross Domestic Product was expected to grow 2.2%, but instead the figure came at 1.9% making 2016 the worst year for economic growth since 2011. Adding to concerns of a slowdown were Durable Goods which did not expand an estimated 2.5%, but rather contracted at (-0.4%). The numbers are a contradiction to the positive momentum across global markets this week when we’ve witnessed record highs for the Dow Jones, NASDAQ, and S&P along with resurgence in commodities.
In addition to poor data, yesterday’s announcement of plans to build the wall and charge as high as 20.0% tariffs on incoming Mexican products left a nasty taste for economists. This represents a declaration of war on trade and the animosity in regards to Muslim as well as other immigration is fomenting not just uncertainty, but bewilderment. The U.S. Dollar is vulnerable to statements from the current administration as it pertains to global competitiveness, but also its tone in managing established relationships with neighbors and other nations.
The Yen had a tough week as a result of booming markets and policy divergence. The Bank of Japan will meet next week on January 31st to announce its policy decision, which could bring the currency down further. USD is rising after the BOJ increased its purchases of bonds this week, a sign that they may feel the need to provide an even more accommodative environment. Yen is down 2.3% for this week on the basis of market optimism and gains.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shown fondness of Trump and will be visiting soon at a date note yet determined. It’s possible that with Trump’s interest in bilateral agreements, some framework may come along this year in which the two countries align new trade terms as well as permitting Japan to increase its military capabilities. Now that the U.S. will not pursue the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the country must establish a way to maintain influence and good relations throughout the Pacific, where Japan may prove to be its only true ally.
The Euro was down as a whole for the week, but may recoup all losses by the end of today’s trading session. German confidence was as solid as expected, but more impressive is the lower unemployment rate in Spain, which fell to 18.6%.
Part of the troublesome PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain), the Iberian nation has improved its economic prospects practicing fiscal discipline and benefitting from economic pick-up in the region. Although downside risks have kept the Euro in familiar ranges for the last 3 weeks, indicators have been positive and we may face short-lived rallies as we enter February ahead of elections with potential to affect the Euro-bloc in March.