The US dollar gave back some of its recent gains when Fed head Yellen sounded less upbeat in her second testimony. Traders focused on her remarks about weak business investment and slow productivity, which is dampening wage growth and inflationary pressures. Data from the US, namely retail sales and CPI, all came in stronger than expected while industrial production chalked up a surprise 0.3% drop versus the estimated 0.1% uptick. US building permits and housing starts, along with the Philly Fed index, are due today.
The euro took advantage of dollar weakness but remained mostly weaker against its other rivals. Euro zone trade balance printed a larger than expected surplus of 24.5 billion EUR versus the estimated 22.5 billion EUR figure and the earlier 22.2 billion EUR surplus. ECB meeting minutes are up for release today and dovish remarks from policymakers could mean more weakness for the shared currency.
The pound had a mixed performance even with stronger than expected jobs data. Claimant count fell 42.4K instead of increasing by 1.1K in January, indicating employment growth, but the average earnings index slowed from 2.8% to 2.6% to reflect weak wage growth. This led analysts to speculate on weaker retail sales as wages might have trouble keeping up with gains in price levels. There are no reports due form the UK economy today.
The franc continued to slide lower across the board even though there were no reports from Switzerland yesterday. Uncertainties in Europe and the potential slowdown in the euro zone are keeping traders wary of additional easing or forex intervention from the SNB. There are still no reports due from the Swiss economy today.
The yen was able to regain ground, thanks to the weakness in the US dollar yesterday. There were no reports out from Japan yesterday while today has BOJ Governor Kuroda's testimony. The central bank head spoke of the lower risk of another global financial crisis but noted that bank profits have fallen.
Commodity Currencies (AUD, NZD, CAD)
The Aussie got a strong boost from upbeat jobs data, as the economy added 13.5K versus 9.7K jobs in January, bringing the jobless rate down from 5.8% to 5.7%. To top it off, the December report was upgraded to show a 16.3K rise in hiring from the initially reported 13.5K pickup. New Zealand quarterly retail sales data is due next and analysts are expecting to see a 1.1% gain from the headline figure and a 0.9% rise from the core reading.
By Kate Curtis from Trader's Way