The U.S. dollar firmed broadly on Monday as caution returned ahead of a busy U.S. calendar as corporate earnings season gets under way this week. The euro eased further off a recent two-month high against the U.S. currency on uncertainty ahead of European bank stress tests due for release on July 23. European officials hope that testing nearly 100 area banks will help to restore confidence to the troubled banking sector.
Overall market sentiment remained fragile following weekend elections in Japan that saw the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) lose its upper house majority. The poor showing by the DPJ pointed to difficulties ahead for Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to take action to slash the nation's high debt load and steer the world's second-biggest economy back to health. The renewed political instability initially weighed on the Japanese currency, though the yen rebounded as market sentiment pulled back ahead of the eventful U.S. week.
The British pound fell to multi-week lows against the U.S. dollar and the euro after disappointing UK data highlighted the uneven outlook for growth in Britain. U.K. figures Monday showed that although the nation's first-quarter growth remained unchanged at 0.3% on the quarter, its recent recession was deeper than first thought. British data Monday also showed the nation post its biggest current account gap since the third quarter of 2007.
The Canadian dollar held near a three-week high against the U.S. dollar, still finding residual support from Friday's stronger-than-expected employment report that helped to increase expectations for a July 20 BOC interest rate hike.
There is no U.S. data due out Monday. However, investors are keeping a close ear on
Chairman Bernanke and Richmond Fed President Lacker who are speaking this morning.
: The euro eased further off last week's two-month peak against the U.S. dollar on uncertainty ahead of next week's eagerly awaited European bank stress tests. Following the lead of the U.S., who not long ago conducted tests to gauge the soundness of the U.S. financial sector, European officials hope that their examination will also reveal encouraging results on the health of its banking industry.
Investor nervousness today is largely centered on uncertainty over how in depth the tests will be. European officials hope to simulate a severe economic downturn to determine how nearly 100 European banks might fare. The single currency is likely to remain sensitive to any headlines on the bank stress tests, which are scheduled for release on July 23.
: The British pound fell to a July 1 low against the U.S. dollar as concerns about the outlook for U.K. growth weighed on sterling sentiment. As expected, the final revision to first-quarter U.K. growth showed that the nation grew at a 0.3% rate on the quarter.
The cause for concern came after the Office for National Statistics reported that its recent recession was deeper than originally reported. The ONS revised its peak-to-trough decline in GDP, the broadest gauge of economic growth, to 6.4% from 6.2%.
Adding to the U.K.'s uninspiring economic headlines, Britain's current account deficit grew by a much larger than expected 9.63 billion, which was well above the forecast of a -4.70 billion reading. The disappointing news highlighted the uneven outlook for U.K. growth in the months ahead amid the government's planned fiscal spending cuts to reduce its precarious mountain of debt.
: A market tilted toward risk aversion helped boost the safe haven Japanese yen. However, the yen had been on the defensive overnight following a poor showing in weekend parliamentary elections by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. Following the election, the ruling DPJ lost its majority in the upper house, which signaled a tougher road ahead for Prime Minister Naoto Kan to pass necessary legislation to tackle the nation's huge fiscal deficit. Mr. Kan is also likely to have a more difficult time forwarding legislation to support the nation's recovery. Consequently, the new layer of political uncertainty is likely to weigh on the yen at least over the near term.
: In the absence of U.S. data to kick of the first day of the week, investors are tuning in to remarks from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for any new clues on the outlook for the U.S. economy. Fed watchers are also listening to Richmond Fed President Lacker for any potential hints on his take on the recovery or the outlook for U.S. monetary policy. Alcoa reports its second quarter results after Wall Street closes this afternoon at 4 EDT.