With the Greek pensioners' bonus and the Italian banks' temporary liquidity discomfort quietly put to bed the euro went into the New Year looking steady, if uninspired. It ambled through the first week of 2017, enjoying some decent Euroland economic data without really celebrating them.
The purchasing managers' indices, which look at current and anticipated activity in the private sector, were mostly up on the month and better than forecast. Inflation was also higher than expected at a provisional 1.1%.
The euro moved a cent and quarter higher against the US dollar. The Greenback was hurt by the revelation that, because of uncertainty about the incoming president's policies, the Federal Reserve might not be as keen to increase interest rates as everyone had imagined. Sterling was neck-and-neck with the euro, largely because the UK economic data were at least as punchy as those from the euro zone.
It was not a great start to the New Year for the dollar. Losses of a cent and a quarter to both the euro and the pound helped put it squarely at the back of the major currency field and it had no competition for the wooden spoon. There was nothing wrong with the US economic data. The purchasing managers' index surveys of current and anticipated activity in the private sector delivered results that were stronger than expected. But the minutes of last month's policy meeting at the Federal Reserve were less bullish than investors had anticipated. Some committee members wondered whether the strengthening dollar might have reduced upward pressure on inflation, lessening the need for higher interest rates.
Meanwhile the ecostats from Britain and Euroland were also looking good. There, too, private sector activity was looking stronger. So, in what could have been a three-way draw, the Fed minutes lost it for the dollar.
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