Risk appetite dipped again on Thursday amid fears over increased damage from the global coronavirus outbreak, especially with increased unease over the US outlook.

Risk appetite dipped again on Thursday amid fears over increased damage from the global coronavirus outbreak, especially with increased unease over the US outlook.

The US 10-year yield declined sharply to fresh record lows below 0.85%. The dollar moved sharply lower as yields remained under pressure with the dollar index at 8-week lows with EUR/USD at 2020 highs and USD/JPY at 6-month lows below 106.00.

Sterling held steady amid expectations that the Bank of England would wait before cutting rates. Dovish Bank of Canada rhetoric undermined the Canadian dollar, but US weakness protected commodity currencies.

Italian coronavirus cases continued to increase sharply with an increase of close to 800 on the day to over 3,850 with the death toll near 150. There were further concerns over heavy damage to the Italian economy which unsettled the Euro.

There was no evidence at this stage of a significant shift in the ECB thinking with resistance to interest rate cuts tending to protect the single currency, although dollar moves were the principal component during the day.

US jobless claims declined slightly to 216,000 in the latest week from 219,000 previously. Challenger job cuts declined to below 57,000 for February and declined 4% for the first 2 months of 2020, although job cuts in the technology sector increased sharply. The data releases overall showed no impact from the coronavirus outbreak.

Interest rate expectations, however, continued to move sharply as fears over the US impact intensified. Futures markets shifted rapidly to indicate a 100% chance that the Fed would cut rates again by a further 0.50% at the March 18 policy meeting. Lower yields and expectations of further rate cuts continued to sap dollar support with the currency index at fresh 8-week lows.

EUR/USD strengthened to 2020 highs around 1.1225 and held a firm tone on Friday as a lack of yield continued to undermine the dollar while German industrial orders recovered strongly for January.

The latest monthly labour-market report will be released on Friday and the coronavirus impact should be marginal. Any weakness would reinforce underlying concerns over the outlook and maintain pressure for further interest rate cuts, although volatility will remain high with position adjustment likely and short covering could be a feature.

US equity futures remained in negative territory ahead of the New York open with Treasuries also holding a firm tone. There was no change in underlying tone after the Wall Street open as global growth fears dominated market sentiment.

There were fears that the number of US coronavirus cases would increase very rapidly once there was the ability to test large numbers which undermined confidence in the outlook and weakened dollar sentiment.

The S&P 500 index recorded a decline of over 2.5% at the European close while Treasuries continued to gain ground with the 10-year yield declining to fresh record lows. As equities remained under pressure there were USD/JPY lows near 106.00.

Asian equities also declined sharply as fears over the global economic impact of coronavirus increased. US futures retreated further which reinforced concerns and USD/JPY declined to fresh 5-month lows around 105.75 with the 10-year yield below 0.85% before a tentative recovery. There was some nervousness over potential Bank of Japan intervention to stabilise markets.

Sterling maintained a firm tone during the European session on Thursday with further support from expectations that the Bank of England would resist an emergency cut in interest rates. GBP/USD moved above the 1.2900 level on wider US losses, although it was unable to sustain an advance against the Euro with GBP/EUR support below 1.1600.

Out-going Bank of England Governor Carney reiterated that the bank will take all necessary steps to support the economy and financial system. Actions, including monetary policy instruments, would also be co-ordinated with the Treasury to ensure maximum effectiveness. Bond yields hit record lows.

EU Chief Negotiator Barnier stated that difficulties surrounding the end of transition were being under-estimated, but a good agreement was possible even with very, very difficult disagreements.

Economic Calendar

07:00German Factory Orders (M/M)(JAN)1.40%-2.10%
08:30GBP Halifax HPI (M/M)(FEB)0.30%0.40%
10:00OPEC Meeting--
13:30USD Average Hourly Earnings (M/M)(FEB)0.30%0.20%
13:30USD Average Hourly Earnings (Y/Y)(FEB)3.00%3.10%
13:30USD Private Nonfarm Payrolls (FEB)170K206K
13:30USD Non-farm Payrolls(M/M)(FEB)175K225K
13:30USD Trade Balance(JAN)-48.50B-48.90B
13:30United States Unemployment Rate(M/M)(FEB)3.50%3.60%
13:30CAD Employment Change (M/M)(FEB)10.4K34.5K
13:30CAD Full Employment Change(FEB)-35.7K
13:30CAD Unemployment Rate (M/M)(FEB)5.60%5.50%
14:20Fed President Evans Speaks--
14:20FOMC Member Mester Speaks--
15:00CAD Ivey PMI(M/M)(FEB)-57.3
16:20FOMC Member J. Bullard Speaks--
19:00FOMC Member Rosengren Speaks--
19:00FOMC member John C. Williams speech--
20:00USD Consumer Credit(JAN)17.50B22.06B
20:30FOMC Member George Speaks--

*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.