USD falls to 2.5 year low, 6 things to watch

On Monday, USD plummeted to a 2.5 year low on investors’ concerns about rising virus cases, fresh lockdowns, holiday spending and the Federal Reserve. With US virus cases topping 4 million in November, in-store Black Friday sales fell 52%. Online spending was strong, rising 22% from the year prior but this increase and month long promotions may not be enough to save retailers who have seen their 2020 earnings squeezed hard by the pandemic.

Softer US economic data contributed to the slide, but this move has been months in the making. Shortly after the pandemic began, the greenback peaked and by late May it started a slide that took the Dollar index from 100 to under 92 today.  Low interest rates combined with large budget and current account deficits made USD an increasingly unattractive investment. In the past week, the surge in virus cases and the response by governors to restrict social and business activity raised concerns about the extent of economic strain that Americans and their businesses endure before a vaccine is made available widely to turn things around.

While weaker manufacturing activity in the Chicago and Dallas regions combined with lower pending home sales contributed to the slide of USD today, investors are more worried about the rest of the week. Over the next few days, the Thanksgiving COVID-19 bump will become clearer – experts anticipate a big increase in cases Tuesday to Friday.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will also be testifying before Congress on the economy and monetary policy. There’s a good chance he’ll be cautious as the Beige Book which will be released on Wednesday will most likely show a slowdown in economic activity.

The end of the year is nearing as well and investors will be more tempted to take profits after record breaking moves in 2020 especially given recent uncertainties. It is no coincidence that the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 300 points on Monday. Further losses are likely this week and if the declines are significant enough, USD could sink even lower.

Fed Chairman Powell’s congressional testimony is one of many market moving events on the calendar this week that includes:

  1. Reserve Bank of Australia meeting
  2. Australia Q3 GDP
  3. Canada Q3 GDP
  4. Eurozone CPI
  5. US Non-Farm Payrolls
  6. Canada Employment Report

The Fed’s Beige book, manufacturing and non-manufacturing ISM, Australian retail sales and New Zealand trade are also important so we can’t rule out big moves in many currencies.

The AUD traded sharply lower ahead of the RBA meeting even though the central bank is not expected to change policy. Although, the government has done a great job of beating a second wave, ongoing trade tensions with China poses a major risk for the economy. With that said, the GDP reports will show the third quarter as a period of recovery for the Australian and Canadian economies.

Eurozone CPI should be low, reinforcing the central bank’s need to ease next week. Canadian and US labor market reports are the wildcard – job growth in the US is expected to slow but if it beats, we could see a dollar recovery. Canada on the other hand is expected to report weaker job growth after blockbuster gains in October.

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