Overseas Headlines – December 28, 2016

Dollar edges higher against yen on strong U.S. indicators
The dollar edged up against the yen on Wednesday after upbeat U.S. economic data reinforced beliefs for economic growth under Donald Trump’s Administration and more rate hikes by U.S. Federal Reserve next year. The dollar rose 0.2 percent against the yen to 117.67, adding to its gains of nearly 0.5 percent on Tuesday in the wake of data showing U.S. consumer confidence hit a 15-year peak in December. The dollar rose as high as 118.66 yen on Dec. 15, its highest since February. The Conference Board said its U.S. Consumer Confidence Index rose to 113.7, the highest since August 2001, as expectations for strength in job growth, business conditions and the stock market continued to build following Donald Trump’s election to president.

U.K. House Prices May Barely Rise as Brexit Weighs on Economy
U.K. house prices may only eke out a modest gain next year as economic growth weakens and a pickup in inflation squeezes consumers, according to Halifax. The mortgage lender sees housing demand easing in 2017, partly as tax changes and stricter underwriting standards restrict buy-to-let investment. It also highlighted the market in London, saying adverse affordability means the capital will see a sharper slowdown than elsewhere. Elsewhere, there are “few signs” of significant stresses and imbalances at present, it said. London’s underperformance has also been a theme of 2016, with Brexit and an increase in stamp duty weighing on the market. Luxury home prices in some of the most expensive districts are down more than 10 percent this year, and land values are also dropping. Property website operator Rightmove said this month that the bubble in prime London “continues to deflate,” and it sees prices there declining 5 percent in 2017.

Sterling hits two-month low as dollar gains
Expectations U.S. inflation and growth will outstrip the rest of the developed world’s prodded the dollar higher across the board on Wednesday, knocking half a cent off the euro and driving sterling to a two-month low. Further gains for the greenback are one of the big consensus plays for financial investors going into 2017, although there have been signs of more doubt in recent weeks, with analysts beginning to wonder how much further appreciation a Donald Trump White House will tolerate. After a mixed morning in Europe, by 1150 the dollar was up 0.6 percent at $1.0399 per euro and 0.3 percent at 117.78 yen. Sterling also fell as much as half a percent to reach $1.2222, its lowest since Nov. 2, before steadying.


China’s yuan slightly eases, market sentiment remains weak
China’s yuan edged down against the dollar on Wednesday as market sentiment remained weak as the year winds down. The People’s Bank of China set the midpoint rate at 6.9495 per dollar prior to the market opening, weaker than the previous fix of 6.9462. The spot market opened at 6.9500 per dollar and was changing hands at 6.9549 at midday, only 9 pips weaker than the previous late session close and 0.08 percent softer than the midpoint. "The overall market was calm. Some market participants were liquidating their positions at the year-end while some were purchasing some dollars and getting prepared for a new year," said a trader at a Chinese bank in Shanghai.