Calls for Trump Impeachment Weigh on U.S. Dollar; Euro Appreciates 2.5% Against the USD

The euro extended its gains against the U.S. dollar on Friday, closing 0.87 percent higher on the day at 1.12056. The European currency also had its best week since the start of the year, gaining an impressive 2.5 percent since Monday.

The euro is now just 0.82 percent away from recovering all losses incurred since November 9th of 2016 - the day Trump was elected U.S. president.

While there weren’t any significant economic news releases coming out of Europe over the past five days, the euro’s exchange rate against the dollar was affected greatly this week by political uncertainty in the United States.

Calls for the impeachment of President Trump by some members of the Democratic National Committee; the constant barrage of news reports regarding the unexpected firing of FBI Directory James Comey by President Trump; as well as the intensifying investigation of Trump’s contacts with Russian officials during the election, took its toll on the U.S. dollar.

Including Friday’s losses, the U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) sustained losses of more than 2 percent this week. The DXY closed on Friday at its lowest level in 6-months: 97.21!

Euro banknotes photo by CostCalculator

Falling Dollar, Higher Japanese GDP Pushes Yen Exchange Rate To Highest Level in May

On Thursday morning, the Japanese yen traded at its highest level vs. the U.S. dollar since April 26, 2017. At 5:45 a.m. EDT, during the European trading session, the USD/JPY exchange rate briefly touched 110.239 - the highest rate for the Japanese yen in May.

Japan’s currency has strengthened considerably since the beginning of this week, mainly due to the weakening U.S. dollar, but also as a result of Wednesday’s Preliminary GDP print, which showed the Japanese economy growing at a rate of 0.5 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Analysts estimated that Japan’s Q1 GDP would come in at 0.4 percent!

News of the better-than-expected GDP data out of Japan, in addition to the falling U.S. Dollar Index, which dropped to 6-month lows (97.33) on Wednesday after odds of a Trump impeachment began to rise, gave the yen a considerable boost this week.

The yen saw its biggest surge on Wednesday, when the USD/JPY rate closed the day with a loss of approximately 2 percent - the biggest one-day gain for the yen since July 29, 2016:

While the Japanese yen was trading higher against the dollar in the early-morning hours, the yen's gains were mostly gone by 10:00 a.m., and by 1:30 p.m., the yen started to loose ground against the greenback. The yen closed on Thursday with a loss of 0.59 percent against the USD (111.483).

JPY banknote photo by Katy Ereira

Bitcoin Mining Difficulty Spikes to Record High in May; Number of Bitcoin ATMs Continues to Climb

While investors and the financial press have largely focused on Bitcoin’s blockbuster rally to record highs above $1700, much less attention has been devoted to the ever-increasing mining difficulty.

On Wednesday morning, the mining difficulty on the Bitcoin network underwent its 15th consecutive upward adjustment, rising 7.28 percent to a new all-time high, according to blockchain statistics site Bitcoin Wisdom.

This is the largest difficulty increase since January 22, 2017, when the difficulty jumped by 16.64 percent.

The mining difficulty adjusts every 2016 blocks - approximately every two weeks - in response to the amount of competition there is among miners. As more mining gear is deployed on the Bitcoin network, the difficulty is adjusted upwards to keep the rate of freshly minted blocks at 1 per 10 minutes.

Although the emission of Bitcoin remains steady after the difficulty is bumped up, the increased difficulty has a negative impact on how much coins go into the pockets of individual miners and mining pools.

Data from Bitcoin Wisdom also shows that between April 27th, the previous difficulty adjustment day, and May 10th, 271,988,635 GH/s (+6.8 percent) of additional mining power has been deployed.

At press time, Bitcoin Wisdom estimates the next difficulty hike, which is scheduled sometime between May 23-24, to be in the neighborhood of 8 percent. Of course this figure is likely to vary greatly over the next two weeks as mining capacity is added/subtracted.

While miners will have to compete even harder to mine new coins after today’s difficulty adjustment, the growing popularity of the Bitcoin brand has continued to fuel growth in the BTM (Bitcoin ATM) industry.

Consumers and investors around the globe can freely purchase Bitcoin with cash at 1170 BTMs across the globe, according to industry data by Coin ATM Radar. Last month, 42 new BTMs came online, and in the first eight days of May, 18 new machines were installed in gas stations and convenience stores in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Miner photo by Thawt Hawthje

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Bitcoin Rallies to Record Highs After "Pro-Blockchain" Macron Wins French Election

On Monday, the exchange rate of Bitcoin jumped above the $1600.00 mark for the 4th time since the beginning of May.

The digital currency was trading mostly under $1550 over the weekend, but a photo posted on various social media sites of newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron holding a Ledger Blue - a device for managing various digital currencies, manufactured by Paris-based Ledger - sparked a rally on Sunday evening.

The French President holding a Ledger Blue, showing his love for Bitcoin from Bitcoin

Although the photograph was taken in March of last year, according to CCN news, at an event sponsored by Cap Digital - a French non-profit organization focused on developing the digital/fintech industry in France - its popularity on sites like Reddit, where it received more than 1500 upvotes over the past 24h, had a sizable impact on Bitcoin’s price.

By 5:15 p.m. EDT on Monday, the BTC/USD rate on Luxembourg-based exchange Bitstamp had risen from $1525 to a new all-time high of $1642.00! While on Hong Kong-based exchange Bitfinex, the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency was trading as high as $1715.00 on Monday afternoon.

President Macron has not made any direct statements that endorse or approving any digital currency in the past, but he has previously shown interest towards this rapidly-growing industry.

In an interview with French news outlet Le Figaro in March of this year, Macron explained how blockchain technology could be applied in the French securities markets.

While France’s new president has yet to reveal his views on cryptocurrencies, and how they fit within existing financial regulations, the election of Emmanuel Macron is widely viewed within the digital currency community as a big net positive for the French fintech sector.

National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, who lost the election by getting only 33.9 percent of the French vote, has a much more hostile stance towards cryptocurrencies, “The National Front, well anchored in the real economy, recalls that a currency is a national public good entrusted to the sovereign people. Therefore, within the framework of the application of its model of economic patriotism, it will prevent the use of crypto-currencies, such as the Bitcoin in France.,” said Le Pen in a press release, released on May 26, 2016.

Graphic by Bitcoin payment solutions provider Bitwala

French flag photo by wisegie

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Canadian Dollar Snaps 10-Day Losing Streak After Canada's Unemployment Rate Drops to 6.5%

A rebound in oil prices on Friday, in addition to a better-than-expected unemployment rate figure for the month of April, finally snapped the Canadian dollar out of its 10-day losing streak, which began on April 21st.

The Canadian dollar began to strengthen after Statistics Canada said the unemployment rate in April had dropped by 0.2 percent to 6.5 percent, “the lowest since October of 2008.,” said the agency.

Additionally, Statistics Canada added that employment increased only in British Columbia (+11,000) and Prince Edward Island (800+). Employment in other provinces remained mostly unchanged, according to the Labour Force Survey.

But the CAD began to gain even more ground against the greenback as the price of crude oil rallied from $44.50 to $47.00 per barrel - a gain of more than 5% - by 11:00 a.m. EDT. Although the data from Statistics Canada gave the CAD a boost, Friday’s stunning reversal in crude oil futures was enough to send the USD/CAD rate under 1.37:

While the USD/CAD rate was hovering near a 1.37935 on Friday morning - the lowest rate in 15 months for the Canadian currency - by the end of the trading day, the pair was trading as low as 1.36424.

During today’s trading session, the CAD gained 0.73 against the U.S. dollar to close at 1.36491.

CAD banknotes photo by Carissa Rogers

Litecoin Market Capitalization Rockets Above $1 Billion USD After Coinbase Announcement

On Wednesday, Litecoin (LTC) became the fourth most valuable cryptocurrency in the world , vaulting to a record valuation of $1.05 billion. Speculative and investment capital poured into Litecoin after U.S.-based exchange Coinbase formally announced support for the digital currency on Wednesday morning.

Ankur Nandwani, product manager at Coinbase, said the integration of LTC is part of the company’s strategy to gradually expand its offering of cryptocurrency trading pairs, "This is part of our shift to supporting more types of digital assets over the coming year.,” writes Nandwani.

“At Coinbase, our mission is to create an open financial system for the world.,” he adds.

While Litecoin posted double-digit percentage gains in March (106.16%) and April (78.10%), today’s news sent the LTC/BTC exchange rate to its highest level in 21 months.

At 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday, the Litecoin/Bitcoin exchange rate went as high as 0.015 on Poloniex. And on Coinbase’s GDAX exchange, the LTC/USD rate surged 123 percent:

GDAX charts show investors/speculators were willing to pay up to $36.00 per Litecoin!

On other popular exchanges such as Kraken and Bulgaria-based BTC-E, LTC/USD rates went as high as $22.46 and $19.80, respectively.

Golden bull graphic by Pictures of Money

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8-Day Losing Streak Plunges Canadian Dollar to 15-Month Low Vs. the USD

The Canadian dollar started the first week of May by incurring additional losses against its American counterpart, the U.S. dollar. Since Monday, the CAD has added another 0.77 percent of losses to April’s 2.5 percent decline against the USD.

And on Tuesday morning (11:30 a.m. EST), Canada’s currency traded at its lowest level vs. the greenback since February 25, 2016: 1.37575!

Tuesday's losses also mark an 8-day losing streak for the Canadian dollar, which has taken away approximately 1.75 percent of the CAD's value:

The current losing streak is one of the longest on record - second only to the 12-day losing streak in January of 2016 that pushed the USD/CAD rate to 1.4600.

Last month’s aggressive moves by the Trump administration on Canadian trade policy
weighted heavily on Canada’s currency, which hit a 14-month low on April 25th, after the U.S. Department of Commerce slapped a 20% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber imports into the United States.

But the CAD’s losses in the first two days of May are mainly a result of ongoing weakness in the energy markets, particularly the price of crude oil, which has fallen close to 3.5 percent since May 1, 2017.

Today, the price crude oil traded as low as $47.69 per barrel - lowest price since the end of March.

Torn Canadian flag photo by Graham Ballantyne

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Bitcoin Exchange Rate Against Canadian Dollar Inches Closer to $2000; Ethereum Valuation Jumps Above $7 Billion USD

The price of bitcoin rose sharply on Monday against every major currency; on European exchange Bitstamp, the BTC/USD rate surged to an all-time high of $1425.00; and on Canadian exchange QuadrigaCX, the digital currency traded against the Canadian dollar at a record high of $1980:

And on U.S.-based exchange Kraken, which has the highest-volume BTC/EUR pair in the world, bitcoin traded on Monday at a new all-time high of €1290.00.

Bitcoin’s exchange rate vs. the U.S. dollar on one of Asia’s top exchanges by volume, Bitfinex, rose to a record $1548.00 today.

However, international Bitfinex clients have been unable to withdraw fiat currency from Bitfinex since the beginning of April, when Wells Fargo & Company refused to process outgoing wires transfers from Bitfinex’s banking partners in Taiwan.

And there is rampant speculation on Reddit that Bitfinex’s $120+ premium over other exchanges is a direct result of nervous Bitfinex clients panic-buying bitcoin to get their assets out of the exchange:

Additionally, since the end of March, Bitfinex’s bitcoin reserves have declined by 50 percent.

Monday’s stunning bitcoin rally comes on the same day as ether, token of the Ethereum blockchain and the second-most valuable digital currency in the world, reached record highs of $81.30.

While ether’s meteoric rise above $80 pushed the market value of the digital token above $7 billion, many other Ethereum-based tokens like GNT (token of the Golem decentralized computation network) and REP (token of the Augur decentralized prediction market), also rose to record valuations over the weekend.

According to charts from, GNT’s market cap hit $198.22 million on April 30th, and the market capitalization of the REP token rose to $206.74 million on Monday, May 1, 2017.

At press time, the combined market valuation of all digital currencies stands at $37.77 billion!

1000 CAD graphic by Brian.Ch