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Dollar Flat as Weak Retail Sales Pressure Q1 GDP Estimates

3/15/2018, 12:02:22 PMMarket Analysis
Dollar Flat as Weak Retail Sales Pressure Q1 GDP Estimates

The dollar was roughly unchanged against a basket of major currencies as upbeat U.S. wholesale inflation was offset by a fall in retail sales for the third-straight month.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, fell 0.01% to 89.69. The dollar index traded as low as 89.54 Wednesday before rebounding.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that retail sales fell 0.1% last month. That confounded economists’ forecast for a 0.3% rise. The retail sales control group – which has a larger impact on U.S. GDP – fell 0.1% missing expectations for a 0.3% rise.

The Labor Department said on Wednesday its producer price index for final demand increased 0.2% last month. In the 12 months through February, the PPI rose 2.5% after rising 2.2% in the prior month.

Falling Retail sales and raising costs weighed on sentiment as analysts slashed their U.S. economic growth estimates for the first quarter despite the overarching narrative of a fundamentally sound consumer environment.

“The data set was a bad combination of firmer inflation and weaker consumption, thus we take down Q1 spending from 1.8% to 1.2% and GDP from 2.7% to 2.3%,” said Royal Bank of Canada. “We all know that consumer fundamentals are incredibly sound yet the consumer appears to be on a bit of a buyers strike over the last couple of months.”

Also adding to dollar weakness was a rise in the yen on an uptick in safe-haven demand as market participants fear President Donald Trump’s reported wish to slap $60 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods could mark the start of a trade war.

USD/JPY fell to Y106.30, down 0.26%.

GBP/USD was flat at $1.3964 while the EUR/USD fell 0.12% to $1.2376 as the latter came under pressure after ECB president Mario Draghi cited the appreciation in the euro and “spillovers” of U.S. tariffs as potential factors that could weigh on EU inflation.

USD/CAD fell 0.24% to C$1.2934 as a rise in the oil prices supported a recov