NORTH AMERICA TAKES THE SPOTLIGHT ON FRIDAY
A steady stream of North American data will capture the spotlight on Friday, giving investors the latest on the U.S. and Canadian economies.
There are no major data releases scheduled during European trading. On the policy front, the European Council is planning to conclude a meeting in Brussels on Friday. In the UK, the Bank of England (BOE) will unveil its Quarterly Bulletin, which provides regular commentary on economic and financial developments.
Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) member Raphael Bostic will kick off the North American session with a speech at 12:30 GMT. Bostic was part of the policy-setting committee that voted to raise interest rates on Wednesday.
FOMC member Neel Kashkari is also expected to speak later in the day.
On the data front, the US Department of Commerce will report on durable goods orders at 12:30 GMT. Orders for manufactured goods meant to last three years or more is projected to rise 1.5% in February after falling 3.7% the month before. Excluding transportation equipment, durable goods orders likely rose 0.5%.
Later in the morning, the Commerce Department will also report on new home sales for the month of February. Sales are expected to rise 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted 623,000. The same category plunged 7.8% the month before.
North of the border, the Canadian government will also release a pair of high-profile reports on Friday. Statistics Canada will issue its monthly retail sales report at 12:30 GMT. Receipts at retail stores are projected to bounce back 1.1% after sliding 0.8% the month before. Excluding automobiles, sales are expected to rise 0.9%.
The statistics agency will also report on inflation at 12:30. The February inflation numbers are expected to show annual price growth of 2% in February, up sharply from 1.7% in January. So-called core inflation, which strips away volatile goods such as food and energy, is projected to rise 1.4% from 1.2%.
Thursday was a volatile session for the euro. The common currency plunged nearly 90 pips against the dollar, hitting a session low around 1.2302. It has since recovered 0.2%, signaling the continuation of its newfound range.
The Canadian dollar extended its recovery on Thursday, as policymakers on both sides of the border expressed greater optimism over NAFTA. The USD/CAD exchange rate declined to the low 1.2900 region, having given up more than 200 pips since the start of the week.
Pound sterling backtracked on Thursday, just one day after hitting fresh six-week highs against the greenback. GBP/USD was back in the driver’s seat on Friday, with the pair adding 0.1% to trade comfortably above 1.4100. The pair continues to see strong support above the 21-day SMA near 1.3900. The 200-week moving average is located around 1.4300.