Risk trends dominate
Pound Sterling - UK Markets
The Pound has recovered to 1.40 against the US Dollar this morning after hitting 1.39 in the wake of the HSBC announcement that they would be seeking to raise cash to offset profit losses. The Pound is also down to 1.11 against the Euro and has declined 1.7% against the Australian Dollar as the Federal bail out of AIG rattled investor confidence overnight.
The UK FTSE closed on a six year low yesterday after news of a £12.5 billion fundraising drive at HSBC triggered investor fears over further institutional failure. Northern Rock posted a £1.4 billion loss yesterday for 2008 although the bank claims to be ahead of target in paying back the government after being nationalised in February 2008. The construction sector PMI released this morning shows a figure of 27.8 indicating a decline in activity in the month of February. There is unease surrounding Sterling at present as the government moves into a new era of fiscal policy with the approach of quantitative easing. The Bank of England meets on Thursday and economists are predicting a final 0.5% reduction to the base rate.
US Dollar - US Markets
The Dollar spiked overnight against the Euro and Pound as the Federal bail out of AIG heightened investor nerves. However the higher yielding currencies have rebounded this morning with the Euro and Pound clawing back ground to trade at 0.79 and 0.70 respectively. The US Dollar has gained on the Japanese Yen.
Stock and equity markets went into a tailspin yesterday after American insurance giant AIG posted a $61.7 billion profit loss, the largest in US corporate history. The US government provided a further $30 billion of financial aid, taking the amount of taxpayer funds received by the corporation to $150 billion and taxpayer ownership to 77.9%. The Dow Jones and Standard and Poor's plummeted 4.2% and 4.7% respectively and market declines were felt around the world from Tokyo to London. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will attempt to restore market confidence in a speech later today.
Euro - European Markets
The Euro is climbing against the Dollar and Pound this morning as markets recover some of the ground lost overnight. The Euro has gained 0.6% on the Dollar to trade at 1.26 and nearly 1% on the Yen to trade at 123.76. Against the Pound the Euro remains in the vicinity of 0.89.
Manufacturing activity in the Eurozone fell to the lowest level in 12 years, figures released yesterday show. Despite better than expected figures in January, results for February weighed on the Euro exchange rate and this decline is likely to be reflected in first quarter GDP statistics. Central and Eastern European banks are to be on the receiving end of a 24.5 billion bail out from the World Bank, European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Developing European economies have been hit particularly hard by the credit crunch and the package is a co-ordinated attempt at refinancing and encouraging lending in the region. Austria has seen the cost of its insurance rocket after Moody's reported Austrian banks are the most exposed to losses in Eastern Europe. Speculation over the ECB meeting could impact on the Euro this week and the ECB meets on Thursday to announce their interest rate decision.
Other Currencies - Highlights
Japanese stocks traded close to 26 year lows on Tuesday after persistent market fears over the further failure of financial institutions. AIG and HSBC have been in the spotlight recently and questions over their financial health sent stock and equity markets to new lows.
Canadian GDP for the fourth quarter of 2008 declined 4.3%, the sharpest quarterly decline since 1991 and this sent the Canadian Dollar lower against the US Dollar overnight. The CAD has recovered losses this morning, currently trading at 1.28 to the US Dollar ahead of the Bank of Canada interest rate decision today.
The Reserve Bank of Australia has voted to leave the official cash rate unchanged at 3.25% signalling an end to the aggressive rate cuts that began in September 2008. This strengthened the Aussie Dollar nearly 2% on the Pound overnight as the Australian government is regarded as ahead of the game when it comes to fiscal policy.