Overall: Currency markets could been in for quite an upheaval on People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan’s proposal regarding the use of special drawing rights (SDRs), a unit of account at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) used for member countries’ reserves with the IMF, as a reserve currency to replace the dollar. Zhou said on March 23 in a report posted on the bank’s Web site that special drawing rights, monetary units valued against a composite of currencies, should also be used for international trade, financial transactions and commodity pricing. The IMF should aim in the longer term to create a “super-sovereign reserve currency,” Zhou said.
Meanwhile, the pound declined sharply after it was announced that bids on U.K. 40 year gilts were below what was offered, the first such bond auction failure since 2002.
In U.S. economic news, Orders for durable goods increased 3.4% in February, the biggest gain in more than a year, the Commerce Department reported today. Another report from the department indicated new-home sales increased 4.7 percent from a record low pace in January.
The Euro (Eur/Usd) rose the most in almost a week on concern Treasury Secretary Geithner supported a Chinese plan to blunt demand among global central banks for the greenback. Especially notable was that the euro rose in the afternoon as stocks fell, a situation rarely seen in currency markets as the dollar usually gains against the higher yielders when stocks decline. Treasury secretary Geithner said that “as I understand his proposal, it’s a proposal designed to increase the use of the IMF’s special drawing rights. And we’re actually quite open to that suggestion.” Geithner clarified his position later, saying the dollar will remain the world’s primary reserve currency “for a long period of time.”
The German IFO business climate continued to decline in March, reaching a 26-year low. The index dropped to 82.1, after the index rose for the first time in the last six months in February. The IFO business climate continues to deteriorate as Germany is starting to feel the effects of the credit crisis on a larger scale.
The Pound (Gbp/Usd) shed approximately 100 pips in the overnight session on the aforementioned failed bond auction and it continued its decline in the afternoon as the S&P declined after about an hour after the open, falling all the way to 1.4514 from 1.4731.
The Aussie (Aud/Usd) followed the S&P nicely; after establishing a clear line of resistance on the 30 minute chart at about .7015, the pair dropped all the way to .6927 as stocks fell.
The Cad (Usd/Cad) rose solidly in N.Y. as stocks declined and as crude lost about $1.40, hitting near the high seen in Asia at 1.2354 from a low on 1.2219.
The Swissy (Usd/Chf) continued to decline off the bearish price action which occurred on the daily chart between March 13 and 17. Granted at the time the SNB was obviously intervening to weaken the currency, but we can probably count on one hand the amount of times that a Central Bank (other than the Fed) has ever been successful when intervening on its own.
The Yen (Usd/Yen) has really become unreliable as a proxy for the S&P. It did decline with stocks, but not until after nearly three hours after the S&P had begun falling. The best pair that we can see to use with the S&P is the aussie, followed by the pound and then the euro. The yen did look to establish some support around 97.10.
The Japanese trade balance came in at -0.04 trillion as the country saw a surplus in February. This is the first time in the last five months that there has been a surplus seen. Exports declined a record 49.4 percent from one year ago as global demand for products diminish due to the current financial slump.