Thu. Jan 26th, 2023
Agence France-Presse

NEW YORK, United States – Global stocks were down Tuesday as the euro dove to a new two-decade low against the dollar and traders waited nervously for news on the next US interest rate hikes.

The single currency tumbled to $0.9901, but later clawed back losses as the greenback was hit by poor US economic data.

The dollar had strengthened this week against other currencies ahead of a speech Friday by US Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell, as markets speculate that the central bank will continue tighten its monetary policy

Higher interest rates boost the American currency as they make dollar-denominated debt more attractive to investors.

But the euro also has been weighed down by a gloomy outlook for the eurozone economy as Russia’s war in Ukraine has sent energy prices soaring.

The unit plunged below parity with the dollar Monday on recession fears to plumb the lowest levels since 2002, when it first came into physical circulation.

In the latest blow, S&P Global’s closely watched monthly composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed that eurozone economic activity fell for the second month in a row in August.

‘Investors are bracing’ 

Wall Street indices ended mostly lower, with the Dow Jones falling 0.5 percent.

With the Jackson Hole central banking symposium this week, the focus is on what Fed chief Powell says about plans to tackle high prices, with many fearing officials could send the economy into recession.

“I think that investors are bracing for some hawkish commentary from Fed chair Powell this coming week,” said Jack Ablin of Cresset Capital.

European equities and Asian markets also slid amid stubborn worries about the Fed’s movements.

US natural gas prices meanwhile hit a fresh 14-year high on Tuesday at $10.028.

But across the Atlantic, European natural gas prices fell, although they remain elevated on fears of a halt to Russia’s gas deliveries. The Dutch TTF Gas Futures contract stood at 268.45 euros down from Monday.

Gas had spiked to record peaks in March after key producer Russia launched its invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

That has sparked surging domestic energy bills, fueling decades-high inflation that has prompted tighter monetary policy around the world.

Moscow’s maneuvers have hit the single currency hard because the bloc relies heavily on imported Russian gas, said Societe Generale analyst Kit Juckes. 

Fears increased after Russia’s Gazprom said Friday the Nord Stream pipeline would be closed for maintenance at the end of the month, cutting Europe’s crucial gas deliveries.

“The euro’s problem is… the threat from continued squeezing of gas supplies and the cost of replacing Russian gas,” Juckes said.

Oil prices — which have fallen for weeks as recession worries hit demand expectations — rebounded after Saudi Arabia suggested OPEC and other major producers could cut output citing “volatility” in crude markets.

Key figures at around 2030 GMT

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 32,909.59 points (close)

New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,128.73 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UNCH at 12,381.30 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,652.52 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 7,488.11 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.3 percent at 13,194.23 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 6,362.02 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.2 percent at 28,452.75 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.8 percent at 19,503.25 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,276.22 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $0.9973 from $0.9943 Monday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.1835 from $1.1767

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.25 pence from 84.98 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 136.7710 yen from 137.48 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 3.7 percent at $93.74 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 3.9 percent at $100.22

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