Dollar lower, but shares bounce on Wall Street

The dollar has weakened today as the partial shutdown of the US government begins, but has bounced off its lows, while stocks have made modest gains.

The first day of the quarter has got off to a tentatively positive start, with shares advancing on Wall Street. By early afternoon in New York, the Dow was off its high for the day, but still up 0.40% or 60 points at 15189. The S&P 500 gained 0.7% to 1693.6.

Hundreds of thousands of US government employees are now out of the work for the time being, following the failure of any deal to materialise between Republicans and Democrats in Congress last night.

The potential damage to the economy will put pressure on the Fed to maintain its monetary stimulus. Speculation that QE will continue has pushed the dollar lower today, with EUR/USD hitting as high as 1.3588 earlier, the strongest the euro has been against the dollar since the beginning of February. The dollar has pared its losses though as the day has progressed, boosted by indications of strength in the US manufacturing sector.

The ISM manufacturing index climbed to 56.2 in September from August’s reading of 55.7. The new orders component slowed from August, but was still above 60, which remains extremely strong. Regional manufacturing surveys have not been in agreement of late, but this nationwide report suggests that the sector as a whole is expanding at a greater rate than previously. Should the shutdown drag on, there will be a question of what kind of negative impact it will have on this resurgence.

Construction spending data for August has been delayed because of the shutdown and it appears the US Labor Department will also delay this Friday’s Employment Situation report.

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