Sterling took advantage of dollar weakness with GBP/USD peaking near 1.2650 before fading on Friday amid fundamental doubts.

The ECB made no changes to interest rates or the bond-buying programme but announced additional cheap loans. The Euro initially dipped before regaining ground as volatility increased amid month-end positioning.

The dollar fell sharply on a dip in defensive demand with EUR/USD above 1.0950. The dollar overall recovered on Friday, but the Euro held firm.

Sterling took advantage of dollar weakness with GBP/USD peaking near 1.2650 before fading on Friday amid fundamental doubts.

Risk appetite deteriorated on Friday with US-China tensions an important underlying factor. Commodity currencies were subjected to a sharp correction as risk appetite dipped.

Euro-zone data illustrated the pressure on economies as the coronavirus crisis impact intensified. German retail sales declined 5.6% for March with a 2.8% annual decline. The labour-market data was more dramatic with a 373,000 increase in unemployment for April as lockdown measures had a greater impact.

Euro-zone GDP declined 3.8% for the first quarter of 2020 which was the deepest contraction on record, although close to expectations. Italian data recorded a 4.7% GDP decline for the quarter as Italy entered lockdown on March 10th.  Inevitably, second-quarter data will be much weaker as lockdown measures take full effect.

EUR/USD held a firm tone but was unable to test the 1.0900 level ahead of the New York open as caution prevailed.

The ECB made no changes to interest rate at the latest policy meeting and there was no increase in the current asset-purchase programme. Lagarde warned that second-quarter GDP was likely to contract 5-12% amid extremely high uncertainty. The bank introduced new facilities to boost lending and lowered the cost of existing lending programmes. ECB President Lagarde emphasised flexibility and reiterated that the central bank was prepared to take further action and she also pressed for Eurogroup governments to take more aggressive fiscal action. There was some disappointment that the bond-buying programme was not extended.

The Euro initially lost ground during the press conference with EUR/USD dipping to 1.0835. There was, however, choppy trading associated with the month-end period and the dollar came under renewed selling pressure into the London fix. In this environment, EUR/USD rallied strongly to highs above 1.0950. The dollar regained some ground on Friday, although EUR/USD was able to hold steady around the 1.0950 area with many European markets on holiday.

USD/JPY found some support below 106.50 ahead of the New York open with the Japanese yen unable to secure further gains. US jobless claims declined to 3.84mn from a revised 4.44mn the previous week, although this was above consensus expectations of 3.50mn. Personal income declined 2.0% for March with a slide of 7.5% for spending. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the US budget deficit for the current fiscal year could increase to $3.7trn and 17.9% of GDP before a decline to 9.8% next year while White House adviser Hackett stated that the April jobs report could show an unemployment rate of around 19%. The Federal Reserve expanded the scope of its Main Street loan programme and US 2-year yields declined to 9-year lows.

The yen declined sharply towards the European close with month-end positioning a significant factor. USD/JPY made net gains to a peak around 107.40 despite losses elsewhere while EUR/JPY moved sharply higher. Risk appetite was more fragile in Asia on Friday, especially with President Trump increasing his attack on China and threatening new tariffs in retaliation for the coronavirus outbreak.

US equity futures moved significantly lower as confidence in the growth outlook declined again. Nikkei forecast that Japan’s economy would contract an annualised 22% for the second quarter with USD/JPY holding just above 107.00 as yen demand remained weaker.

Sterling made net gains ahead of Thursday’s New York open with a GBP/USD move to above 1.2500 while EUR/GBP retreated to below the 0.8700 level.

There was volatile trading due to month-end positioning with the UK currency making further gains into the London fix, primarily at the expense of the dollar. GBP/USD strengthened sharply to highs near 1.2650 as GBP/EUR held above 1.1450.

Prime Minister Johnson took the daily briefing on Thursday and stated that for the first time that the UK was past the peak in this outbreak. He also stated that plans to ease restrictions would be outlined next week. The rhetoric proved an element of Sterling support, although there were still concerns that there would be a delay in easing lockdown measures. The need to maintain social distancing measures will also make it difficult to revive economic activity, maintaining pressure on the budget deficit.

Economic Calendar

09:30GBP Consumer Credit(MAR)1.100B0.900B
09:30GBP PMI Manufacturing4747.8
09:30GBP Mortgage Approvals(MAR)68.21K73.55K
14:30CAD RBC Manufacturing PMI(APR)-46.1
14:45USD Manufacturing PMI(APR)-49.1
15:00USD Construction Spending (M/M)(MAR)-4.20%-1.30%
15:00US Manufacturing ISM(M/M)(APR)4249.1

*All rates shown are indicative of interbank rates and should only be used for indication purposes only. It is important to note that foreign exchange rates fluctuate and that rates may vary depending on the amount and the base currency that is purchased or sold. Rates are correct as of 8:00am UK time. CentralFX are not responsible for the rates shown.