Daily Afternoon Report 09.03.2018

The U.S. dollar continued to trade at one-week highs against other major currencies on Friday, as upbeat U.S. employment data added to optimism over the strength of the economy.

Official data showed that the U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs in February, beating expectations for 313,000. However, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%, missing expectations for a further drop to 4.0%.

The report also showed that average hourly earnings rose only 0.1% last month, disappointing expectations for a 0.2% gain.

Meanwhile, concerns over a potential global trade war due to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium imports eased after U.S. President Donald Trump signed a more tempered version of the plan on Thursday.

Trump signed the imposition of 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% for aluminium but announced exemptions for Canada and Mexico and left the door open for exceptions for other countries.

Japan reacted to the news by saying the move would have a “big impact” on the countries’ close bilateral ties, while China said it was “resolutely opposed” to the decision. South Korea said it may file a complaint to the World Trade Organization.

In other news, President Trump announced his willingness to accept an invitation to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before May, with hopes of achieving “permanent denuclearization”.

South Korea’s National Security Office said Kim “expressed eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible” and that the North-Korean leader pledged to “refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests” while talks are underway.

The news sent safe-haven assets broadly lower and USDJPY was up 0.70% at 106.95, while USDCHF added 0.11% to a more than one-month peak of 0.9523.

The euro turned lower, with EURUSD down 0.26% at 1.2281, while GBPUSD eased up 0.08% to 1.3820.

Earlier Friday, the Bank of Japan left its monetary policy unchanged and offered no new clues on when and how it might begin winding down its stimulus measures.

The Australian dollar was stronger, with AUDUSD up 0.23% at 0.7805, while NZDUSD held steady 0.7266.

Elsewhere, USDCAD fell 0.23% to trade at 1.2869 after Statistics Canada reported that the economy created 15,400 jobs in February, compared to forecasts for a gain of 20,000 jobs.