The US dollar was boosted by safe haven flows amid uncertainties about the details of today's U.S. financial-rescue plan announced 11 am to shore up its ailing banking sector. The Obama administration is also waiting for Congress to work out the $838 billion economic stimulus package.
The Japanese yen also gained on risk aversion. Japan's Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa today said Japan would act decisively against excessive currency moves. Any sharp rise in the currency is not good for Japan as a strong currency hurts Japanese exports and pushes Japan deeper into recession.
The euro softened on rumors that Russian banks were seeking government help to restructure its foreign corporate debt worth $400 billion, adding to concerns that financial turmoil is getting worse. Any major news about Russia and emerging European countries will impact the euro because of European banks' exposure to those regions. Meanwhile, talk of further rate cuts out of the euro zone continues to weigh on the currency. The European Central Bank left rates unchanged at 2 percent, but is expected to cut rates in March.
The British pound is holding onto gains, boosted by stronger than expected earnings from British bank Barclays, despite wariness of risk. Sterling gains were limited with a survey indicating UK companies had trouble getting new financing at the end of last year despite government plans to rescue the banking system. The sterling is also vulnerable to profit-taking following the recent two weeks rally. The Bank of England's quarterly inflation report released later this week will provide more clues of further monetary easing. The market is waiting to see if the BOE will consider quantitative easing to boost the financial system. The Bank of England slashed rates last week to a record low of 1 percent to lift the economy.
The Australian and New Zealand dollar dipped as risk appetite wanes. Worries about U.S. bank rescue plans and talks that Russia was looking to restructure its debt repayments weakened sentiment. The market is looking ahead to Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens speech for clues on the next monetary policy move. Last week, the RBA cut rates aggressively by 100 bps to a record low of 3.25 percent.
The Canadian dollar was boosted despite delays in the U.S. bank rescue plan on hope that the plan would pass. Meanwhile, Canadian housing starts fell more than expected in January indicating that Canada's economy is still weak. Last week it was reported its economy lost 129,000 jobs in January, the worst on record, adding to worries that the country's economy is sagging.
10-Year Treasury Note Yield: 2.905
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 8219.81 -51.06
This market summary is prepared by Union Bank of California's Global FX Department for the general information of its customers. It is based on the most accurate information currently available, but should not be considered investment advice or a guarantee of future exchange rates or trends.