EUR/USD remains under pressure, as the pair has dropped closed to the 1.06 line. Currently, the pair is trading at 1.0630. On the release front, Eurozone Employment Change edged up to 0.3%, above the forecast of 0.2%. In the US, it’s a busy day. Retail sales and CPI indicators are expected to soften in February. Today’s highlight is the Federal Reserve policy meeting, with the central bank widely expected to raise the benchmark rate a quarter-point, from 0.50% to 0.75%. On Thursday, the eurozone releases Final CPI, while the US publishes a host of key indicators, led by unemployment claims.
German numbers were a mixed bag on Tuesday. There was further indication that inflation continues to improve, as Final CPI rebounded with a gain of 0.6%, compared to a 0.6% decline a month earlier. The well-respected ZEW Economic Sentiment report improved to 1.28, although the markets had expected a stronger reading. Eurozone ZEW Economic Sentiment climbed to 25.6, its strongest gain since December 2015.
The eurozone continues to post improved inflation and growth data, and this has led to calls in some quarters for the ECB to tighten monetary policy. The ECB has kept the benchmark rate at a flat 0.0%, and its asset-purchase program does not expire until December. Will ECB President Mario Daraghi taper the monthly purchases or at least signal such an intent? Draghi is doing his best to perform a complicated balancing act. A stronger economy would favor tighter policy, but he does not want ECB to become entangled in heated political contests in Europe. Dutch voters are having their say on Wednesday, while France holds elections in April, followed by Germany in September.
With the markets expecting a quarter-point rate hike on Wednesday, will the currency markets react to a Fed move? Although a rate hike has been priced in by the markets at 93%, there have been disappointments in the past, so a rate move could boost the dollar at the expense of gold. Strong US employment numbers in February have reinforced market speculation that the Fed will raise rates for the first time this year. Nonfarm payrolls sparkled in February, as the indicator jumped to 235 thousand, easily beating the estimate of 196 thousand. Wage growth climbed 2.6% compared to February 2016, while the participation rate edged up to 63.0%, up from 62.9%. These solid job numbers have also provided President Trump with a much-needed boost. Trump is under pressure to present an economic agenda, but the markets won’t mind giving him some additional breathing room, with the economy performing so well.