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Euro zone inflation dents euro, dollar rises from three-month low

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Euro zone inflation dents euro, dollar rises from three-month low
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A New Zealand dollar coin sits atop a United States one dollar bill in this photo illustration taken on March 11, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray/Illustration/File Photo

By Samuel Indyk

LONDON (Reuters) -The euro fell on Thursday after euro zone inflation eased by more than forecast this month, fuelling bets of early European Central Bank rate cuts, while the dollar rose from a three-month low but was still set for its biggest monthly drop in a year.

Consumer price growth in the 20 nations that share the euro currency dropped to 2.4% in November from 2.9% in October, well below expectations for a fall to 2.7%.

“The message from today’s European CPI data is clear,” said Matthew Landon, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. “Disinflation is continuing at a rapid pace in Europe – and, importantly, more swiftly than the market or even the ECB’s expectations.”

“Falling inflation and a stagnant economy could justify ECB cuts as soon as the first quarter of next year in our view,” Landon said.

The euro dropped as much as 0.5% against the dollar to $1.0910 and last stood at $1.0930. On Wednesday it hit its highest level since August at $1.1017.

Markets are now fully pricing in a rate cut from the ECB by April, while around 115 basis points of easing is priced by the end of next year.

ECB policymaker Fabio Panetta said on Thursday the central bank may be able to ease monetary conditions if persistently weak output accelerates the decline in inflation.

Meanwhile, the , which measures the U.S. currency against six others including the euro, rose 0.4% to 103.25, picking up after touching 102.46 on Wednesday, its lowest level since Aug. 11.

The index is still down around 3.3% in November, its biggest monthly fall since last November, on growing expectations the Fed will also cut interest rates in the first half of 2024.

“The key drivers in November for the dollar weakness have been the benign inflation data and the loosening signs of the labour market,” said Mohamad Al-Saraf, associate, FX and rates strategy at Danske Bank.

“The notion of a soft landing has increased and usually that’s a bad environment for the dollar.”

Investors will be all ears on Friday when Fed Chair Jerome Powell takes centre stage in the wake of Fed Governor Christopher Waller on Tuesday flagging a possible rate cut in the months ahead. It will also be the last time Fed policymakers will be able to share their views before they enter the quiet period before the December policy meeting.

Before that, the spotlight will firmly be on Thursday’s crucial personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price index – the Fed’s targeted measure of inflation.

Christopher Wong, currency strategist at OCBC, said the data will offer a glimpse into whether the disinflation trend seen so far remains intact.

“If core PCE undershoots expectations to the downside, then USD may extend the move lower again,” he said.

U.S. rates futures markets are now pricing in more than 100 bps of rate cuts next year starting in May, and the two-year Treasury yield is close to its lowest since July – it has slumped about 40 bps this week alone.

Meanwhile, expectations that the Bank of Japan will soon end its negative rate policy have pulled the yen up from the depths, and in the process, eased pressure on the central bank to support the currency via direct FX market intervention.

On Thursday, the yen weakened 0.2% to 147.575 per dollar, but remains close to the two-and-a-half-month high of 146.675 per dollar it touched on Wednesday. The Japanese currency has firmed almost 3% against the dollar in November and is on course for its strongest month this year.

Bank of Japan board member Toyoaki Nakamura said on Thursday the central bank will likely need some more time before phasing out its massive stimulus.

Sterling was last at $1.2655, down 0.3% on the day, while the Australian dollar fell 0.2% to $0.6605. It’s still up 4.2% in November – its steepest one-month gain in a year.

Forex

Dollar firms, euro slips ahead of key inflation data

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Dollar firms, euro slips ahead of key inflation data
© Reuters

Investing.com – The U.S. dollar firmed in early European trade Wednesday, shrugging off signs of U.S. economic weakness ahead of the release of this week’s key inflation data as traders look for clues as to when the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates.

At 04:00 ET (09:00 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, traded 0.3% higher at 104.080. 

U.S. inflation to prove sticky?

Data released on Tuesday showed that orders for U.S. fell a hefty 6.1% last month, while the Conference Board’s was revised lower for January and declined further in February. 

However, these signs of economic weakness have had little impact on the U.S. currency with all eyes on the , the Fed’s favorite inflation gauge, due on Thursday. 

Economists are expecting a 0.4% increase for January after 0.2% in the previous month. A stickier-than-expected reading could prompt the Fed to delay rate cuts further.

“We remain of the view that evidence of resilient inflation in the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation will offer more support to the dollar into the end of the week,” said analysts at ING, in a note.

Markets have largely priced out a rate cut at both the Fed’s March and May meeting, and the chance of a cut in June is seen as largely 50:50.

Before the PCE data, a second reading on fourth-quarter is due later on Wednesday, while there are more Fed officials due to speak, including , and .

Euro edges lower ahead of eurozone CPI

In Europe, traded 0.2% lower at 1.0818, with Europe also looking forward to its own slew of inflation reports, with Germany, France and Spain scheduled to release price data on Thursday ahead of the on Friday.

Economists are expecting an annual reading of 2.5% for February, dropping from 2.8% in January.

Still, the dollar trade continues to dominate, and this inflation release will have to provide a major surprise to influence the pair substantially.

“EUR/USD continues to follow the dollar dynamics without showing any material impact from eurozone-specific drivers. The pair looks likely to test 1.0800 in the coming days, in our view,” ING added. 

traded 0.4% lower at 1.2635, with sterling hit by a stronger dollar and after recent data showed U.K. grocery prices rising at their lowest rate since March 2022.

Kiwi dollar slumps after RBNZ meeting

In Asia, fell 1.1% to 0.6103, near a two-week low, after the held interest rates steady at 5.5%, but flagged more progress in inflation moving towards its 1% to 3% annual target. 

While the bank still signaled that it will keep interest rates higher for longer in the near-term, its comments saw traders largely price out expectations of any more rate hikes.

traded 0.2% higher to 150.80, with the yen weakening further beyond the 150 level, although steeper losses were limited by the prospect of early interest rate hikes and government intervention.

traded largely unchanged at 7.1993, as traders awaited the release of key for February, due this Friday. 

 

 

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Forex

Dollar slips vs yen after Japan inflation data, US durable goods

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Dollar slips vs yen after Japan inflation data, US durable goods
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Dollar banknote is seen in this illustration taken July 17, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The dollar eased against the Japanese yen on Tuesday after data showed Japan’s core consumer inflation exceeded forecasts while U.S. durable goods orders fell more than expected in January.

Overnight data out of Japan kept alive some expectations that the Bank of Japan might end negative interest rates by April.

In the U.S., the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau said orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft meant to last three years or more, tumbled 6.1% last month, exceeding the 4.5% decline forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

Markets have recently pulled back expectations on the timing and size of Federal Reserve rate cuts this year as the U.S. economy remains strong and inflation pressures stubborn.

Against the yen, the dollar dipped 0.1% to 150.56, while the , which measures the currency against a basket of peers, was last up 0.08% at 103.86.

“Inflation numbers have been drifting a bit lower in Japan over the past few months, but today’s numbers did suggest inflation is sticky even in Japan,” said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.

“It probably does mean we’ll get a mild series of rate increases in Japan in the next few months.”

hit a two-year high on signs large players were buying the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin was last up 5.22% at $57,513, while ether rose 2.26% at $3,258.

In other U.S. economic news, the consumer confidence index slipped to 106.7 this month – short of forecasts – from a downwardly revised 110.9 in January.

The U.S. core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, due on Thursday, is expected to be one of the more important reports of the week for the market. Forecasts are for a rise of 0.4%.

“We’re waiting for the PCE data to give us a stronger sense of direction perhaps,” Osborne said. “I think we’re prepped for slightly stronger numbers; it probably at this point would have to be a big upside surprise to really get the dollar strengthening.”

The euro was last down 0.1% versus the greenback. It has been rising since mid-February, when it hit its lowest since Nov. 14.

Analysts said the single currency strengthened as markets scaled back bets on future European Central Bank rate cuts to 90 bps by year-end, amid encouraging signals from the economy, which supports expectations for a pick-up in growth in the second half of 2024.

German states, France and Spain will release inflation data on Thursday ahead of the euro area’s figures due on Friday.

ECB officials have sounded more cautious about a quick easing of monetary policy, with President Christine Lagarde saying wage growth remains robust, while ECB dove Yannis Stournaras ruled out a rate cut before June.

The dollar strengthened 0.06% at 7.214 versus the offshore . The People’s Bank of China set the midpoint rate, around which the yuan is allowed to trade in a 2% band, at 7.1057 per dollar.

The weakened 0.06% versus the greenback at $0.617, with traders gearing up for what could turn out to be a significant policy meeting by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) on Wednesday.

Markets are pricing in a one-in-three chance the RBNZ will raise its 5.5% official cash rate to combat stubborn inflation.

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Dollar firmer before key inflation data, kiwi sinks as RBNZ holds rates

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Dollar firmer before key inflation data, kiwi sinks as RBNZ holds rates
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken March 10, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Samuel Indyk and Brigid Riley

LONDON (Reuters) -The dollar firmed up on Wednesday as markets awaited a raft of global inflation data for clues on when central banks may start easing policy, while the New Zealand dollar tumbled after its central bank trimmed its forecast for a peak in rates.

The was also hanging at its lowest in over a week after inflation data came in softer than expected, reinforcing expectations that domestic interest rates are unlikely to increase further.

The data calendar looks light on Wednesday so analysts said markets were likely to focus on consumer inflation data from the U.S., Germany, France and Spain on Thursday ahead of euro area figures due on Friday.

“There’s more chance of disinflation ongoing in the euro area, which perhaps could open the door for an earlier cut from the European Central Bank,” said Danske Bank FX and rates strategist Mohamad Al-Saraf.

“We think if inflation is stickier in the U.S. than it is in the euro area then the dollar has to be strong.”

Higher-than-forecast inflation in the U.S. has prompted markets to trim bets on the number of rate cuts expected from the Federal Reserve this year, while the chance of a cut in June now stands at around 60%. At the start of the year, markets were almost fully pricing a rate cut in March.

That repricing has pushed the U.S. currency higher in 2024, including against the euro. The single currency was last down 0.3% against the dollar at $1.0815.

The , which measures the currency against six others including the euro, was last up 0.2% at 104.07, having risen 2.7% year-to-date.

With market expectations more closely aligned with the Fed’s latest projections and comments, traders would only respond if they see a trend break in tier one data, especially anything “hinting at growth weakness,” said Charu Chanana, head of currency strategy at Saxo.

New Zealand’s central bank held the cash rate steady at 5.5%, catching markets by surprise as policymakers said the risks to the inflation outlook have become more balanced.

The RBNZ also trimmed its forecast cash rate peak to 5.6% from a previous projection of 5.7%.

“With a cash rate at 5.5%, the 10 basis points of wriggle room is simply there to remind us that they’ll hike if they need to but the bias is that they probably won’t,” said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at City Index.

The slid over 1% to its lowest since Feb. 16 at $0.6093 in response.

The Australian dollar also fell after data showed inflation at an annual pace of 3.4% in January, unchanged from December and under market forecasts of 3.6%.

Although inflation remains above the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) 2-3% target, “it is close enough to expect the RBA to hold rates steady,” said Simpson.

The Aussie was last down 0.6% at $0.6502.

Elsewhere, sterling weakened to $1.2657, down 0.2%, while the yen slipped 0.1% versus the greenback to 150.595.

“We’ve seen in the past when dollar-yen trades above 150 that authorities start to give increased attention to the currency,” Danske Bank’s Al-Saraf said.

“But I would say right now there’s probably not intervention risk unless we see a sharp move in the yen again.”

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was last up over 4% at $59,200, extending to its highest level since November 2021.

Ether rose 2% to $3,320.

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