The U.S. dollar is weaker against major currencies across the board after the Fed hiked rates for the third time since the financial crisis but lacked upgrades to the economic projections. A proactive but patient Fed with other central banks standing pat meant the forward looking forex market came away with a less hawkish view on future interest rates and sold the U.S. dollar.
The Office for National Statistics in the UK will release the monthly inflation data on Tuesday, March 21 at 5:30 am EDT (9:30 GMT). After the Bank of England (BoE) held interest rates at 0.25% the minutes from the policy meeting showed members discussed raising rates if inflation accelerated. The lone dissenter in the BoE Kristen Forbes voted for a rate hike as she felt inflation was rising quickly and would remain above the BoE's target for at least three years. A higher inflation indicator on Tuesday would appreciate the pound as higher UK rates could happen sooner rather than later. UK retail sales data will be released on Thursday, March 23 at 5:30 am EDT (9:30 GMT) with a forecasted gain of 0.4% that could restore confidence after a drop last month.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) will publish its rate decision on Wednesday, March 22 at 4 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. GMT). Analysts expect the rate to remain unchanged at 1.75% after a disappointing fourth quarter GDP has reduced the probabilities of a rate hike in the short term.
The euro/U.S. dollar (EUR/USD) currency pair gained 1.201% in weekly trading. The single pair is trading at 1.0750 after the Fed hiked interest rates by 25 basis points for the first time in 2017. The market had already priced in the central bank move after heavy handed signalling from Fed members. Investors had become used to ignoring Fed comments and forecasts as for the past two years there was the promise of multiple rate hikes and in reality only one hike per year was delivered. The Fed had to change its communication strategy to avoid catching the market off guard as the CME FedWatch tool showed very low probabilities of a rate hike March as late as mid February.
The hype created by Fed officials was made into reality on March 15, but without further guidance and with a statement laced with less hawkish undertones investors sold the US dollar. The greenback is down against all majors ahead of a quiet week for U.S. economic indicator releases. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will speak at a research conference in Washington on Thursday, March 23 at 8:45 a.m. EDT (12:45 pm GMT) giving her another turn to comment on the central bank forecasts for US growth. Fed members Charles Evans, William Dudley, Neel Kashkari and Robert Kaplan are all scheduled to speak this week and could use the opportunity to clarify their stance on the central bank's rate path that triggered a drop in the USD after the March monetary policy meeting.
The USD/MXN lost 2.791% in the last five days. The currency pair is trading at 19.0852 after a new round of peso positive comments came from the Trump administration. Top trade advisor Peter Navarro said that a new trade agreement replacing NAFTA should make the Canada, Mexico and the United States collective a global manufacturing powerhouse. This follows comments from Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and John F. Kelly Secretary of Homeland Security during their joint visit to Mexico at the end of February. While being careful not to openly contradict the statements from President Trump, there has been a clear softening in the language used with regard to Mexico-US trade and immigration.
The MXN has appreciated versus the USD since the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Jan. 20. The worst case scenarios for the peso have not materialized despite the rhetoric putting pressure on the Latin American currency during the lengthy election process and the eventual victory of Trump. The current US administration has focused on trade and immigration, but has not delivered details on what was seen as the biggest factor of the USD rally: pro-growth policies such as tax stimulus and infrastructure spending. The peso is trading near pre-election levels but risks remain as the US Federal Reserve appears willing to hike interest rates higher multiple times in 2017 and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin has reassured markets those pro-growth polices are coming.