In currency news, the dollar strengthened against a basket of six rival currencies to trade at 97.589 after holding steady in the last session around the 97.4 handle. The dollar hit a near six and a half month low last week. Dollar/yen was steady, trading at 111.22.
The British pound recovered after falling last week following polls showing U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May’s lead had narrowed ahead of a snap election next week. With U.K. markets closed yesterday for a bank holiday, the pound strengthened to trade at $1.2827 compared to the $1.27 handle seen last Friday.
Meanwhile, the euro remained steady following comments made by European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi while addressing the European Parliament. The euro traded at $1.135 against the dollar, off highs around the $1.12 level seen last week. In his speech, Draghi acknowledged growth in the euro zone but said “an extraordinary amount of monetary policy support” remained “necessary.”
“It’s now only a week out from the ECB meeting and you can’t get much clearer than that. The ECB will then unveil its new inflation forecasts; an about turn from the ECB signalling a winding down of QE would be a big surprise to the market,” National Australia Bank Senior Economist David de Garis wrote in a note.
Oil prices were cautiously higher in the last session following reports of U.S. drillers adding rigs. Brent crude gained 14 cents to settle at $52.29 a barrel while U.S. West Texas International (WTI) crude added 19 cents to settle at $49.99.
In economic news, Japan household spending and retail sales for the month of April are expected at 7:30 a.m. and 7:50 a.m. HK/SIN respectively.