The euro was on track to post a third consecutive red candle in Asia after Austrian national elections during the weekend heightened political risks in Europe, while markets are eagerly anticipating what the Catalan leader will say today before his deadline. On the other hand, the dollar managed to edge up against a basket of major currencies after the Fed chair shared her hawkish prospects for inflation.
European far-right parties seem to gain support in Europe again despite defeats in France and the Netherlands after a substantial performance in German elections a few weeks ago and in Austria on Sunday. Yesterday, Austrian national elections caused a headache in Europe with exit polls showing a victory for the Eurosceptic leader of the center-right People’s Party (OVP), Sebastian Kurtz (30.1%). The ruling center-left Social Democrats, who currently hold a coalition with Kurtz’s party, came second (27.1%) just ahead of the far-right Freedom Party (25.9%) which strongly increased its share of votes and consequently raised its chances to enter the government after 12 years of absence. Expectations are now for the OVP to form a coalition with the anti-immigration Freedom Party since the former moved further to the right following Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015. Final ballots will be given later this week.
In Spain, the Catalan leader, Charles Puigdemont, has a deadline set by the Spanish government until 0800GMT to clarify whether he has officially declared independence. If indeed he confirms the above, then he will be given another three days to step back from his position before the Spanish government takes control of the region. In the adverse scenario, Puigdemont will lose support from his far-left CUP coalition partner.
The euro, though, fell moderately to $1.1804, down by 0.18%, as markets anticipate the ECB to announce the reduction of its asset purchases program on October 26.
The Fed chair, Janet Yellen, speaking at an international banking seminar in Washington on Sunday, reiterated that the Fed should raise interest rates gradually despite weak inflation, explaining that the US labour market and generally the US economy remains resilient. Commenting on the inflation path, she argued that upcoming evidence on prices, which will be closely monitored, will not be as soft as they are currently, while she also admitted that the wage figures released along with the September job report were encouraging. This followed the release of the US CPI readings on Friday which missed expectations but continued growing.
Regarding the latest developments from the US-North Korea front, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday that the US President Donald Trump has given orders for diplomacy with North Korea to continue in a way so as to ease tensions between the nations, with Tillerson saying that “those diplomatic efforts will persist until the first bomb drops”. Meanwhile, US and North Korean navy forces will hold a joint exercise until Friday in Korean waters according to the South Korean defense official.
The dollar index climbed a shade to 93.20. Dollar/yen was mostly steady around 111.85, while safe-haven gold was also flat around $1,300 per ounce.
In other currencies, the aussie retreated by 0.14% to $0.7877 despite Chinese inflation rising above forecasts and iron ore prices surging for the second session. Particularly, consumer prices in China picked up by 0.5% m/m in September, recording the highest growth in eight months. Expectations were for the CPI to remain at August’s mark of 0.4%. The annual gauge stood in line with forecasts at 1.6%; below the 1.8% seen in the previous month. Producer prices increased surprisingly by 0.6 percentage points to 6.9%.
The kiwi was up by 0.24% at $0.7181 with New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Bill English, saying that the next government could be determined by the end of the week.
In energy markets, oil prices drifted higher near three-week highs amid tensions in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk in Iraq. WTI crude rose by 0.76% to $51.84 per barrel and Brent jumped by 1.03% to $57.76.