Last week was uneventful in the forex space, with major currency pairs experiencing only minor movements. Nevertheless, the Dollar Index (DXY) regained some previous losses, moving 0.27% to the upside. The greenback gained 0.12% on the Euro, while shedding 0.14% against the Pound.
The South African Rand also only experienced small price changes. The USD/ZAR pair moved 0.10% higher, ending the week at R18.10. The GBP/ZAR pair appreciated by 0.20%, moving from R22.46 to R22.50 during the weekly trade. The EUR/ZAR pair ended the week flat at R19.88.
Last week, there was some noteworthy economic data from South Africa. South Africa’s inflation rate came in at 7.1% for March, despite inflation expected to edge lower to 6.9%. Food and beverages, housing and utilities, and transport were the main contributors to the sustained price pressure. Inflation remains above the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB’s) 3%-6% target range, and further cooling will be needed to reach a sustainable level. The SARB may need to raise interest rates once more to combat this inflationary environment. South African retail sales data for February also came out, highlighting a 0.1% decline in retail spending. This reading underperformed the expected 0.7% rise, indicating that consumers are feeling the pinch of higher inflation and interest rates.
There was minimal data released from the US last week. However, there was some significant data from the UK and the Eurozone.
The UK inflation rate came in at 10.1% for March, down from 10.4% in the prior month. Although price pressure has continued to cool, the reading was higher than anticipated. This led to corresponding GBP tailwinds, as investors adjusted their expectations for future Bank of England (BoE) action. GBP traders flipped from rate cut to rate hike predictions as inflation remained stubbornly elevated. Additionally, the UK unemployment rate for February was released. Unemployment came in at 3.8%, slightly higher than the previous 3.7% reading. Retail sales data also came due, with UK retail spending shrinking by 0.9% in March.
Over in the Eurozone, inflation rate data for March was released. Inflation came in at 6.9%, in line with the market consensus, down from the previous month’s 8.5% recorded figure. European Central Bank (ECB) members have all reiterated their commitment to keep rates higher for longer. This has given the EUR a boost, with traders predicting the EU will start cutting rates after the US.
The European balance of trade data also came due, recording a trade surplus of €4.6 billion. This came after a trade deficit of €31.66 billion was reported in the previous month. The improvement in the trade position exceeded expectations.
This week, on the local front, we remain cautious of any possible ZAR rally as the currency failed to capitalise on the momentum in previous trading sessions. Data-wise, producer price index (PPI) data will be released on Wednesday, and local balance of trade data will be released on Friday.
Upcoming Economic Events
- AUD: Inflation rate (Q1)
- ZAR: Producer price index (March)
- USD: Durable goods orders (March)
- NZD: Balance of trade (March)
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