Singdollar slips as good US data lifts greenback

Shoppers on a bench outside a store in Beijing on Tuesday. There are divided views on whether the relative strength of the US dollar can continue. The flash numbers for the euro zone's April Purchasing Managers' Index indicate that activity has stabi
Shoppers on a bench outside a store in Beijing on Tuesday. There are divided views on whether the relative strength of the US dollar can continue. The flash numbers for the euro zone's April Purchasing Managers' Index indicate that activity has stabilised, while China is making all efforts to bolster growth.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

But forex experts divided on continued US$ strength in the medium term

The Singdollar's steady gains against the greenback over recent months have been eroded by the US dollar's resurgence on the back of good United States economic data.

The end result is that the Singdollar is more or less back to where it was against the US dollar at the start of the year.

It has been a roller-coaster ride: The currency strengthened to a high of $1.3063 to the US dollar on Jan 26 but slipped to around $1.31 in the following months.

It weakened to around $1.3337 yesterday, practically the same level as at Dec 29 last year. The positive US jobs data that came out last night is also expected to give further strength to the greenback.

DBS Bank foreign exchange strategist Philip Wee said: "Last year, the US dollar was weak because the euro and China were strong; this year the table has flipped. The US is looking better."

DBS rates strategist Eugene Leow said the environment is now very different from that in 2015 and 2016. Then, the US Federal Reserve was expected to hike rates four times in each of those years but only delivered one in each of the years.

Bank of Singapore's foreign exchange research team says that in the short term, the US dollar could rally even further as growth in the rest of the world appears to be moderating, whereas the US numbers are still strong.

Back then, the global economy was facing considerable challenges and oil prices were plunging, keeping a lid on inflationary pressures, Mr Leow said.

DBS expects the US Fed to raise rates next month. The bank also believes the Singdollar will continue to weaken against the US dollar with the expectation of more hikes this year and more next year.

However, there are divided views on whether the relative strength of the greenback can continue.

Bank of Singapore's (BOS) foreign exchange research team says that in the short term, the US dollar could rally even further as growth in the rest of the world appears to be moderating, whereas the American numbers are still strong.

But that may not be the case in the medium term. The flash numbers for April's Purchasing Managers' Index for the euro zone indicate that activity has stabilised, while China is making all efforts to bolster growth.

The bank says the focus will be on the next set of business surveys and the euro zone's May PMI numbers.

If it appears that there was only a temporary drag on European growth, the euro should strengthen against the US dollar. The euro has similarly weakened against the greenback since February, trading at around US$1.1968.

BOS currency strategist Sim Moh Siang also noted the issues of the growing US current account deficit as well as the fiscal deficit, which will place added pressure on the greenback.

Last month, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) kept the Singdollar on a modest and gradual appreciation path in its monetary policy review.

Although steady economic growth is expected for Singapore, both the MAS and the economists highlighted global trade tensions as a key risk.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2018, with the headline 'Sing$ slips as good US data lifts greenback'. Print Edition | Subscribe