USD ETF Advances in Ongoing Currency War

After the European Central Bank’s monetary policy bombshell, many foreign central banks have enacted their own easing or are cogitating about potential cuts ahead, bolstering the outlook for the U.S. dollar and currency-related exchange traded funds.

The PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish Fund (UUP) and the actively managed WisdomTree Bloomberg U.S. Dollar Bullish Fund (USDU) are among the better performing currency ETFs so far this year, rising 4.6% and 2.3% year-to-date, respectively. [King Dollar ETFs are Quite Royal in January]

UUP tracks the dollar movement against a basket of developed market currencines, including the euro, Japanese yen, British pound, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona and Swiss franc. USDU, on the other hand, tracks a broader basket, including the euro, yen, Canadian dollar, Mexican peso, pound, Australian dollar, franc, South Korean won, Chinese renminbi and Brazilian real.

Fueling the appreciating greenback, an ongoing currency war among international central banks has caused many foreign currencies to depreciate. For instance, the Monetary Authority of Singapore unexpectedly announced monetary easing Tuesday. [Singapore ETF: Central Bank Unscheduled Cut Hints at Concerns]

New Zealand’s Reserve Bank stated that it expects to see “further significant depreciation” for the kiwi and that “the exchange rate remains unjustified in terms of current economic conditions,” hinting at potential rate changes in the future, reports Sara Eisen for CNBC.

Hungary’s central bank has also taken on a dovish stance and hinted a potential monetary easing as well.

Denmark’s Nationalbanken cut its deposit rate to negative 0.5% from minus 0.35% Thursday, its third reduction in less than two weeks, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Earlier in the month, Denmark, India, Canada and Switzerland all shift their monetary policies, following the ECB’s aggressive trillion-euro bond-purchasing plan.

“The trend of central bank surprises continues, adding volatility to markets and highlighting a more uncertain global policy stance but one that is partially centered on (foreign exchange) ahead,” Camilla Sutton, chief FX strategist at Scotiabank, said in a note. “An environment of increased volatility and uncertainty is typically U.S. dollar positive.”

Looking ahead, Australia’s central bank could lower rates during its policy meeting Tuesday in response to other central bank cuts and the lower inflation outlook, along with Poland at next Wednesday’s rate decision. South Africa and Mexico will also release policy decisions Thursday. Additionally, the Bank of Korea will meet on Feb. 17 and is expected to also follow the global trend of looser monetary policies, according to Brown Brothers Harriman currency strategists.

PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish Fund

For more information on the USD, visit our U.S. dollar category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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