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Dollar strengthens after big shift in global rate outlook

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Dollar strengthens after big shift in global rate outlook
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Woman holds U.S. dollar banknotes in this illustration taken May 30, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Herbert Lash and Amanda Cooper

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) -The dollar headed toward a second week of gains on Friday, after a slight rate hike in Japan gave the yen a slight reprieve and a surprise cut in Switzerland highlighted the gap in interest rate policy between the Federal Reserve and other central banks.

The week marked a shift in global monetary policy as the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and central banks in developing countries cut rates or indicated their intention to do so, with June the likely moment for the European Central Bank to move.

The dollar rose against all G-10 currencies except the yen, as the relatively strong U.S. economy and high interest rates kept the carry trade alive. But the Swiss rate cut, the first by a major central bank in Europe, marked a definitive shift.

“We had a somewhat surprising cut from the SNB this week,” said Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto. “People have been extrapolating, certainly from a signaling point of view, what that might mean for other central banks in Europe.”

The Fed left its overnight rate on hold between 5.25%-5.5% and stuck with projections for three cuts by year’s end. But it also said it would not cut until it was confident that inflation was sustainably declining toward its 2% target.

About 84 basis points of cuts are priced in for this year – much lower than the 160 or so at the start of the year – but higher than earlier in the week as rate cut bets gained steam.

Sterling dropped 0.5%, hitting a one-month low at 1.258, after a 1% drop on Thursday when the Bank of England left rates unchanged. But the BoE revealed a more dovish tilt as two hawkish committee members dropped their prior call for a hike.

“What happened out of the SNB and what happened with the BoE really opening the door to rate cuts earlier than expected, that’s putting the dollar in a better light,” said Marvin Loh, senior global macro strategist at State Street (NYSE:) in Boston.

“Things are calm, but the dollar is a little bit stronger.”

The Swiss franc, the best performing G10 currency of 2023, has lost about 1.7% in value against the dollar this week and about 6.8% so far this year.

The , a measure of the U.S. currency against six major trading partners, rose 0.45% while the dollar weakened 0.12% against the Japanese yen at 151.44 per dollar.

The dollar is up about 1.5% this week versus the yen after approaching levels that prompted Japanese intervention in 2022.

Euro/yen hit its highest since 2008 this week at 165.37 and the broke above 100 yen for the first time since 2014.

With the dollar in the ascendant, the euro hit a three-week low. It was last trading down 0.5% at $1.0806.

The Bank of Japan announced an historic shift out of negative short-term rates and longer-run yield caps, but it was so well telegraphed that the yen fell on the news.

Expectations for policy easing in China too have piled pressure on its currency, which dropped sharply in the onshore session, spooking equity investors and prompting state banks to step in. [CNY/][MKTS/GLOB]

It was last at 7.229 per dollar, while in offshore trading the dollar headed for its largest one-day rise against the yuan in a year, up 0.77% to 7.2769.

was set for its largest weekly drop since last August, with a roughly 6.7% fall, as crypto markets have taken a step back from a powerful rally this week – though it will trade through until Sunday.

It was last down 2.74% at $63,674.36, having fallen by some 13% since a record high close to $74,000 last week.

Forex

Dollar flat ahead of key inflation release; Middle East tensions ease

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Investing.com – The U.S. dollar traded largely unchanged in calm trading Monday, amid a calming of tensions in the Middle East and ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve’s favorite gauge of inflation later in the week.

At 05:40 ET (09:40 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, traded flat at 106.005, retreating from the five-month peak of 106.51 seen last week. 

Dollar stable ahead of key inflation release

The dollar surged to new highs last week after Israel launched a missile attack on Iran, in an escalation of the conflict in the volatile Middle East.

However, tensions appear to have been cooled, with Tehran downplaying Israel’s retaliatory drone strike against Iran, in what appeared to be a move aimed at averting a regional war.

“Sentiment is generally supported across asset classes as the week starts,” said analysts at ING, in a note. “All interested parties appear to have chosen the path of downplaying the size and consequences of Friday’s Israeli strikes in Iran.”

That said, the dollar has also been supported by strong U.S. economic data and persistent inflation, coupled with a slew of hawkish comments from Fed officials, reducing the chances of the Federal Reserve cutting rates any time soon. 

These officials will be keeping quiet this week, ahead of next week’s , but activity is likely to be limited ahead of Friday’s look at the , the Federal Reserve’s favored inflation gauge, which economists expect to remain elevated in March.

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Other economic data for the week includes an initial estimate of first quarter , which is expected to have moderated slightly from the previous quarter. Data on and will also be released along with revised figures on consumer sentiment and inflation expectations.

Euro edges up, but ECB set to cut early

In Europe, rose 0.1% to 1.0656, trading near six-month lows with regional economic weakness set to result in the European Central Bank cutting interest rates before the Federal Reserve.

Elevated tensions in the Middle East are unlikely to drive up energy prices and should not affect the European Central Bank’s plans to start cutting interest rates in June, French central bank chief Francois Villeroy de Galhau said on Sunday.

“Barring surprises, there is no need to wait much longer”, Villeroy told business daily Les Echos in an interview. “At the moment, the conflict is not leading to a marked rise in oil prices. If this were ever the case, we would have to analyse monetary policy for whether this shock is temporary and limited, or whether it is transmitted – beyond commodities – to underlying inflation.”

climbed 0.1% lower to 1.2355, just above its lowest level since mid-November seen on Friday, after Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden alluded last week to Britain’s inflation slowing as expected. 

“Sterling markets moved on Friday after the Bank of England’s deputy governor, Dave Ramsden, sounded less concerned about price pressures and suggested that there were indications of UK inflation converging to that of the eurozone,” ING said. “Crucially, he added that the Bank will be “responsive” as evidence on inflation accumulates.”

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Yen weak ahead of BOJ meeting

In Asia, traded 0.1% higher at 154.74, remaining well above the 154 level and near 34-year highs, keeping investors on guard over any potential government intervention. 

Focus this week is on a Bank of Japan rate decision on Friday – the central bank’s first meeting after a historic rate hike in March. Any cues on future rate hikes and policy changes will be closely watched.

edged 0.1% higher to 7.2437, after the People’s Bank of China kept its benchmark on hold, as expected. 

The LPR was kept at record lows, as the PBOC moved to keep monetary policy as loose as possible to buoy economic growth. However, low interest rates are also expected to keep the yuan under pressure. 

The USDCNY pair was close to a five-month high, above the psychologically important 7.2 level. 

 

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UBS raises USDCNY forecast amid geopolitical tensions

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On Monday, UBS revised its forecast for the exchange rate, citing increasing geopolitical tensions and expectations of fewer rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. The Swiss financial services firm now anticipates the USD/CNY rate to reach 7.35 by June, up from the previous target of 7.20. Similarly, the September target has been adjusted to 7.30 from 7.15, the December target to 7.25 from 7.15, and the March 2025 target to 7.20 from 7.15.

UBS suggests that the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is showing a greater willingness to allow a weaker yuan, which could contribute to additional short-term pressure on the Chinese currency. The firm’s analysis points to the rising geopolitical tensions as a key factor influencing the yuan’s trajectory.

Despite the potential for a pivot by the Federal Reserve in September, which might typically ease the upward trend of the USD/CNY, UBS believes that the impact could be mitigated. The firm notes that market concerns about US-China trade tensions, especially in the lead-up to the US presidential election in November, could dampen the effects of any policy changes by the Fed.

UBS’s revised targets reflect a cautious outlook on the Chinese yuan, as the global financial market continues to weigh various geopolitical and economic factors. The firm’s adjustment of the USD/CNY targets highlights the complex interplay between central bank policies, international relations, and market sentiment.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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Asia FX weak as rate fears keep dollar steady

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Investing.com– Most Asian currencies moved in a flat-to-low range on Monday, and were nursing steep losses from the past week as concerns over higher-for-longer interest rates kept traders largely biased towards the dollar.

Still, easing fears over a bigger conflict in the Middle East offered regional currencies some relief, as risk appetite improved. 

But most regional units still retained a bulk of their losses from over the past week, as traders steadily priced out expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates by as soon as June.

Dollar steady, more rate cues awaited this week 

The and both fell slightly in Asian trade on Monday, but remained close to over five-month highs hit earlier in April. 

Waning bets on a June rate cut boosted the dollar, especially after strong U.S. inflation readings and hawkish commentary from top Fed officials. 

Focus this week is on more cues on U.S. monetary policy, specifically from data- which is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge. The reading is due on Friday and is expected to reiterate that U.S. inflation remained sticky in March.

More cues on the U.S. economy are also due this week, with data for April set to offer more insight into business activity.

Chinese yuan steady after PBOC holds loan prime rate 

The Chinese yuan’s pair moved little on Monday after the People’s Bank of China kept its benchmark on hold, as expected. 

The LPR was kept at record lows, as the PBOC moved to keep monetary policy as loose as possible to buoy economic growth. The central bank is also expected to further trim the rate this year, after a cut to the in February. 

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But low interest rates are also expected to keep the yuan under pressure. The USDCNY pair was close to a five-month high, above the psychologically important 7.2 level. 

Japanese yen flat, BOJ meeting awaited 

The Japanese yen’s pair moved little on Monday, but remained well above the 154 level amid little relief from the dollar.

This kept investors on guard over any potential government intervention, especially as the USDJPY pair tested 34-year highs at 155. 

Focus this week is on a on Friday- the central bank’s first meeting after a historic rate hike in March. Any cues on future rate hikes and policy changes will be closely watched.

Broader Asian currencies moved little as fears of higher-for-longer U.S. rates remained in play. 

The Australian dollar’s pair rose 0.3% after tumbling to a five-month low last week.

The South Korean won’s pair rose 0.5%, while the Singapore dollar’s pair was flat.

The Indian rupee’s pair rose 0.1%, but was trading below record highs hit last week.

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