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Commodity currencies on the back foot

Tuesday, January 06, 2015 - 02:03

The rouble wasn't the only one to suffer in 2014. Tumbling oil prices dragged down commodity currencies around the world - by over 20% in the case of the Norwegian krone - and there appears to be no respite in sight. David Pollard reports.

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You could call it currency market madness. The last year's seen the euro tumble, a rout in the rouble and double digit drops elsewhere. The problem for many: the sliding price of oil and other commodities. They've helped push Nigeria's naira to a record low. And while others like Australia's dollar aren't yet in intensive care, they're suffering, says Rabobank currency strategist, Jane Foley. SOUNDBITE (English) JANE FOLEY, SENIOR STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, SAYING: ''Just as weaker oil is a benefit for consumers everywhere, it is really a negative for the producing nations in terms of revenue, in terms of employment and in terms of growth. So I think these currencies will remain relatively weak.'' Which could in fact be good news - at least for Australia. After a surprise slowdown in the last quarter, its central bank's been talking down the Aussie dollar to try to boost competitiveness. Norway's been battling a fall in the krone of nearly a quarter over the last year. It surprised markets by cutting rates last month to their lowest since 2009 - central bank chief Oeystein Olsen warning more cuts are on the cards. But can policymakers win against a sliding currency - and even more so if like Russia, they're hit by sanctions? ETX Capital's head of trading, Joe Rundle. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOE RUNDLE. HEAD OF TRADING AT ETX CAPITAL, SAYING: ''I think facing the fact of a significant commodity slowdown, or significant sanctions, I don't think a central bank can stand in the way of a market. They just do not have the firing power in the medium term. In the short term, it may create some stability, but in the medium term I'm not sure they can support it.'' Canada's expected to go the other way. The loonie's also seen a big sell off. But rates are expected to be raised for the first time in five years. A pick-up in the US is expected to help boost its northern neighbour. And will, few doubt, result in the Fed hiking after six years of record low rates. That prospect is keeping the US dollar marching upwards. Just one more reason why the only way for many other currencies could - for now at least - be down.

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Commodity currencies on the back foot

Tuesday, January 06, 2015 - 02:03