The U.S. dollar this morning is clawing back some of the ground it lost overnight against many of its rivals as investor risk appetite ramps up on the heels of yesterday's almost 3% rally by the Dow. A favorable Australian employment report released earlier Thursday is further emboldening traders to push riskier assets higher, as evidenced by higher equities globally this morning. The Aussie and Kiwi dollars are also sharply higher on the news.Against the euro, the dollar is trading just under fresh two-month lows hit early in Thursday's European session. Traders were reluctant to push the single currency higher ahead of today's ECB meeting and U.S. weekly jobs data. Though the unanimous consent that the ECB would not move rates proved true, the post meeting press conference will offer the final glimpse into the ECB's thinking ahead of the much ballyhooed stress tests out of the euro zone slated for release later this month. Sterling was also swept higher overnight, touching on its own two-month peak against the greenback before tumbling back toward yesterday's opening levels, as the BOE left rates unchanged as expected and ahead of today's U.S. unemployment claims data. The Aussie dollar roared back to a one-week peak against the greenback as June's employment report came in well above forecasts. Talk of an interest rate cut down under was quickly silenced and murmurs of a rate hike by year-end emerged once again. Clearly such a move would be Aussie supportive by improving its yield outlook. The yen was a loser overnight, as is often the case when risk appetite increases. European bourses were riding the wave of risk higher today. EUR: The single currency clawed higher yesterday and earlier in this morning's European session before slipping ahead of market events that traders are hoping will provide clues on the two dominant themes in the market right now: the state of the euro zone banking sector and the state and pace of the global economic recovery. The ECB, which left interest rates unchanged at its bi-monthly meeting, will be grilled for details regarding the stress tests on banks in the bloc that were announced last month. So far, the tests are expected to include 91 banks of varying size. Recall that runs on the euro in past months have been triggered by concerns over even the smallest local Spanish "cajas," so no institution will be immune from scrutiny regardless of size.
What will also be of concern will be whether the ECB can convince traders that the tests will be meaningful. If they are not taken seriously or downplayed by a body such as the ECB, the tests that were originally designed to soothe markets could backfire and once again stake concerns about the health of the euro zone banking sector. AUD: Australian jobs data for June came in significantly stronger than forecast, on Thursday, registering a gain of 45,900 workers. Expectations for job creation had hovered at 17,500 for last month. The employment rate itself was lower, at 5.1% from 5.2% the prior month. The solid employment data made it highly unlikely that the RBA would be cutting rates at any upcoming meetings and, in fact, talk turned to a rate hike by year's end. The Aussie topped out at a 10-day high against the USD and near two-month peaks on Canadian currency. GBP: Sterling rode the coattails of the euro higher before giving back gains this morning. News that the BOE left rates unchanged at 0.5%, as expected, fell by the wayside as traders instead chose to focus on the ECB post-meeting press conference getting under way. USD: U.S. weekly jobless claims fell by 21,000 to 454,000, which were more than expected and the lowest level since May. Continuing claims fell to the lowest level in months. Though the data seemed largely bereft of anomaly, some market players pointed to the fact that GM will not be shuttering plants as it typically does at this point of the summer as a factor that could be boosting the figures. The dollar remained pinned near its lows against most of its rivals.