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The US Dollar surged higher to start the trading week as stocks sold off across Asian exchanges, boosting demand for the safety-linked currency. The British Pound bore the brunt of the greenback's assault as risk aversion compounded last week's dovish rhetoric from the Bank of England.
Key Overnight Developments
• Pound Tumbles Despite BOE Backtracking on King's Comments
• Japanese Yen Surges on Safety Demand as Stocks Plunge in Asia
The British Pound and the Euro both suffered sharp losses in overnight trading as stocks tumbled in Asia, driven lower by Friday's disappointing US economic data, sending the MSCI Asia Pacific regional benchmark index down 1.2% and boosting demand for the safety-linked US Dollar.
Asia Session Highlights
The British Pound raced sharply lower in early trading as currency markets seemingly concluded that the Bank of England suspiciously protests too much after the UK Times Online cited unnamed sources at the central bank as saying King was trying to talk down sterling last week. The Pound began to accelerate lower last Monday after the BOE released an article titled Interpreting Recent Movements in Sterling as part of its quarterly bulletin which argued that the inability of drying up capital inflows to finance the current account deficit could mean a fall in the the long-run sustainable real exchange rate. Sterling bears were given extra fuel last Thursday when Governor Mervyn King said rebalancing the UK economy was very necessary [and] the fall in the exchange rate that we have seen will be helpful to that process in an interview with The Journal.
Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens struck a hawkish tone at a testimony to the Senate Committee in Sydney. Stevens said that Australia's recession has been mild and the economy has done quite well as government stimulus materially supported growth, adding 2-3% to local demand. On interest rates, Stevens said that benchmark borrowing costs are unusually low and will need to go back to normal levels, adding that inflation targeting will guide the timing of adjustment to more normal levels.
Euro Session: What to Expect
A preliminary estimate of Germany's Consumer Price Index is set to show that prices fell -0.2% in the year to September, marking the third consecutive month that the EU-harmonized metric has printed in negative territory. A reading in line with expectations is unlikely to prove market-moving: economists have called for year-on-year CPI to shrink -0.3% through the third quarter, and averaging September's would-be reading with those recorded in the previous two months yields just about that outcome. The coming months present an opportunity for volatility, however: consensus forecasts have inflation coming back into positive territory in the fourth quarter and averaging around 1.2% through 2010; if this proves too rosy as the economy falters anew after the boost from fiscal stimulus (both at home and abroad) and the inventory cycle fizzles out, a drop in inflation expectations stands to prolong the slump in the Euro Zone's largest economy. Indeed, consumers and businesses have little incentive to spend and invest in the present if they reckon prices will be lower in the future, bringing economic activity to a standstill. This will mean the ECB will keep interest rates at current lows longer than nearly all of its major counterparts (with the exception of Japan and Switzerland), weighing down the Euro.
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