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Dollar finds footing on U.S. economy as euro and yen falter – Cape Breton Post

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By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The dollar began the week firmly and within a whisker of milestone peaks against the euro and yen on Monday, as U.S. economic strength and a vaccine rollout proceeding much more quickly than in Europe drew investors into the greenback.

The euro sat at $1.1788, not far above last week’s four-and-a-half-month trough of $1.1762 and well below its 200-day moving average of about $1.1866.

The common currency is heading for its worst month since mid-2019 as Europe’s faltering vaccination programme runs into a wave of new infections, a bearish signal as positioning data shows investors remain heavily long euros.

The yen stood just shy of strong resistance and Friday’s 10-month low of 109.85 per dollar to trade at 109.77 early in the Asia session.

The yen is sensitive to gaps in returns on U.S. and Japanese government debt.

This year’s 76-basis-point rise in 10-year Treasury yields – as the U.S. economy rebounds – has opened the gap to its widest since last February. That has drawn Japanese investment, which has in turn helped push the yen down nearly 6% for the quarter.

The U.S. dollar index rose 0.8% to 92.773 and the dollar steadied against the risk-sensitive Aussie, kiwi and sterling, having fallen late on Friday with the positive mood.

Over the quarter the dollar has posted a 0.8% loss on the pound, which has been supported by Britain’s speedy vaccination rollout, a 0.8% gain on the Australian dollar and a 2.7% gain against the kiwi, which has been hit by housing market reforms.

The Aussie was last down 0.1% at $0.7631 on Monday and the New Zealand dollar fell by the same margin to $0.6989, while sterling slipped 0.1% as well to $1.3784.

“The U.S. is also being helped on its own by some pretty good economic data, fantastic rollout of vaccines, good pace of vaccination and (positive) stock markets,” said Westpac currency analyst Imre Speizer.

“The domestic economy is doing better than expected and likely to be the case for the next few months, so that might hold the U.S. dollar up and that’s what’s caused the Aussie, kiwi and emerging-market currencies to pullback in March.”

U.S. jobless claims fell to a one-year low last week and President Joe Biden said he would double his vaccination goal, after surpassing 100 million shots 42 days ahead of schedule.

In contrast, European inoculations have plagued by supply problems and safety concerns.

Last week, the head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases also warned a third wave of the virus could be the worst so far, and on Sunday Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the possibility of curfews to bring it under control.

Besides infection and inoculation counts, investors looking to Purchasing Managers Index figures due midweek and for some details of U.S. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure spending plan.

However the main data will be U.S. hiring figures due on Good Friday.

“The distribution of forecasts range from 460,000 to 1 million (jobs), where the whisper number sits at the top end of the range,” said Pepperstone’s head of research, Chris Weston.

“One million jobs would set the reflation trades alight, with the S&P500 outperforming, led by cyclicals and cause a solid sell-off in bond yields taking USD/JPY and USD/CHF higher,” he said. “The euro should push through last weeks lows of 1.1761 and towards 1.1690.”

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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Restarting a sustainable, export-oriented economy – Business in Vancouver

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Clean, sustainable products and services will be key to B.C.’s economic recovery | Chung Chow

This column was originally published in BIV Magazine‘s Trade issue.

As B.C. looks to restart its economy, the demand for our province’s clean and sustainable products and services is surging across a variety of sectors, demonstrating the key role that trade will play in our economic recovery.

Exports increased 24% year-to-date for April – that’s up $3 billion over the same time last year. It’s a big boost for the provincial economy, with a majority of our exports being commodities in great demand. Our stringent environmental standards in wood exports, burgeoning clean tech sector and high standards in labour protections mean that when other markets buy from us, they’re also contributing to a cleaner and more socially responsible global economy.

B.C. was committed to international trade long before the pandemic. It creates new opportunities for businesses, and more importantly, it creates good jobs and prosperity for people in B.C. When businesses export, they are more resilient. Access to more markets means they have a more diverse customer base and aren’t as impacted by fluctuations in their local economies.

We have a program perfectly designed to help small businesses get their goods and services to new markets. It’s called Export Navigator. This program offers businesses free expert guidance on exporting. Businesses get connected with an expert advisor who will help “navigate” them through the export process. It’s hugely beneficial, helping businesses reach new customers for the first time and making the process a lot easier along the way.

We continue to support B.C. businesses in other ways as well. For example, we developed a series of grant programs to meet their unique needs, making over half a billion dollars available in direct supports. The Launch Online program helps businesses improve their online presence to attract and keep customers and meet demand as online shopping hit new heights during the pandemic. The Supply Chain and Value-Added Manufacturing grant helps B.C.-based manufacturers in the aerospace, shipbuilding, food processing and forestry sectors recover and grow, supporting them to seek efficiencies to continually keep goods flowing into the marketplace.

From natural resources and agrifoods to manufactured goods and high-tech goods and services, B.C. has a lot to offer to the world. We are a responsible, low-carbon producer of natural resources and manufactured goods, and we are working hard to make sustainability a larger part of B.C.’s brand and our global competitive advantage. Our priority is to help B.C.-based businesses start up, scale up, access global markets and succeed in the highly competitive world marketplace. The more we export, the more new dollars we bring into B.C. and generate revenue that supports government investments in health care, education and critical infrastructure.

We stand behind the high-quality goods that B.C. has to offer to the world. Globally, companies large and small are increasingly applying environmental, social and governance filters to their investment decisions. We are committed to growing our economy in a sustainable way, and are working on a new trade diversification strategy that will provide us with the opportunity to develop an updated, forward-looking and ambitious approach that aligns closely with these principles, while ensuring that our exporting businesses are maximizing the opportunities afforded to them through Canada’s existing free trade agreements. Our recently announced Mass Timber Demonstration Program is an example of how we are advancing technologies that can showcase to the world the possibilities of building with a more sustainable and environmentally friendly product from B.C.

The pandemic leaves behind many lessons and creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity for B.C. to redefine itself. We know the pandemic is not impacting everyone equally, with women and visible minorities being disproportionately impacted. This is why we are committed to continuing to grow strong, robust industries that can provide good jobs for all of B.C.’s diverse populations.

Growth in trade will be a big part of our economic recovery, and as we transition through our restart plan, we will continue to engage with businesses, industry and key stakeholders to ensure we’re supporting their efforts to expand globally.

Our goal is to diversify our trade sectors to include not just our natural resources, but clean tech, high tech, agritech and advanced manufacturing. We need to support our exporters and encourage new exporters to expand our opportunities in global markets and strengthen our resilience.

We’re committed to invest in people and in businesses to restore economic growth and we are confident that the entrepreneurial spirit of B.C.’s business community will rise to the challenge as we work together to build a better future with meaningful jobs and a strong, sustainable economy for all. 

Ravi Kahlon is B.C.’s minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation. George Chow is the province’s minister of state for trade.

This column was originally published in the July 2021 issue of BIV Magazine. The digital magazine can be read in full here.

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Economy

ECB Lifts Restrictions on Bank Dividends as Economy Rebounds – Bloomberg

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The European Central Bank said it will lift a cap on how much lenders can return to shareholders with dividends and share buybacks, while urging them to remain cautious given uncertainty in the pandemic.

The ECB “decided not to extend beyond September 2021 its recommendation that all banks limit dividends,” the central bank said in a statement on Friday. “Instead, supervisors will assess the capital and distribution plans of each bank as part of the regular supervisory process.”

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Reopening economy buoys B.C.’s job market – Business in Vancouver

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B.C.’s labour market outperformed most of the country in June with a 1.6% (42,100-person) monthly gain and outpaced the national increase of 1.2%.

The province moved through steps 1 and 2 of its restart plan, highlighted by the reopening of restaurant in-house dining and larger organized events, travel and other recreation. The labour market has fully recovered employment losses from the previous two months, exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 0.6%. The latter marks the best performance among all Canadian provinces, reflecting shallower economic restrictions from the pandemic, solid performances in the commodities and technology sectors and a robust housing market.

However, full-time work has similarly lagged, with levels 1.6% lower than in February 2020, while part-time work rose 9%. B.C.’s unemployment rate fell to 6.6% from 7% in May and marked the lowest level since the pandemic began.

Metro Vancouver performance was consistent with employment growth of 1.5%, although unemployment remained higher at 7.4% of the labour force.

There was strong rehiring for accommodation/foodservices (up 12%) employees as dining restrictions were largely lifted. This contributed half of the net monthly increase. Significant gains were also recorded in finance/insurance/real estate (up 4.1%), health care/social assistance (up 3%) and business/building/other support (up 5%). Gains align with broader business and office reopenings. A drop in resource employment and construction were partial offsets to services-driven growth.

Hiring momentum will continue with Stage 3 of the restart plan underway, which allows for larger events, fairs and trade shows, reopenings of casinos and normalization of fitness classes and gyms, while domestic tourism partly offsets international travel restrictions.

The Lower Mainland’s housing frenzy continued to cool through June as affordability erosion and satiation of demand pulled forward by the pandemic cut sales. Meanwhile, both buyers and sellers are likely taking a step back to pivoting attention to other activities as social restrictions ease.

Multiple Listing Service sales spanning Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford- Mission (Lower Mainland) reached 6,007 units last month. While still up a lofty 46% from a year ago, this is compared with a 217% increase in May. •

Bryan Yu is chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union.

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