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US dollar rises, in consolidation mode, ahead of inflation data

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US dollar rises, in consolidation mode, ahead of inflation data
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken March 10, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The dollar rose modestly against major currencies on Monday, as investors braced for data on U.S. inflation and retail sales this week for clues on when the Federal Reserve may begin widely anticipated interest rate cuts.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin hit $50,000 for the first time since December 2021, boosted by inflows into exchange traded funds backed by the digital asset. It was last up 5.6% at $50,207.

The , a measure of the greenback against six of its peers, was up 0.1% at 104.12, as the market expects the consumer price index (CPI) for January – due to be released on Tuesday – to give the Fed further confidence that inflation is slowing towards its 2% target.

Wall Street economists expect the year-on-year CPI to rise 2.9%, down from 3.4% in the previous month, according to a Reuters poll. The core CPI is also expected to have slowed its growth on a year-on-year basis in January to 3.7%, from 3.9% in the prior period.

“Psychologically, dropping down into the 2s (in the CPI year-on-year) even though it is 2.9% for the headline CPI number would be a good boost for market sentiment,” said Amo Sahota, executive director at FX consulting firm Klarity FX in San Francisco.

“We’re in a holding pattern here. There seems to be no directional trades. It’s really like: Let’s just take a breath before tomorrow’s (CPI) data, before we make the next push in either direction.”

Ahead of the CPI report on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released on Monday its January Survey of Consumer Expectations, which showed inflation a year and five years from now were unchanged at readings of 3% and 2.5%, respectively, while the projected rise in inflation three years from now dropped to 2.4%, the lowest since March 2020, from December’s 2.6%.

“The market is in a reasonably good mood going into Tuesday, hoping that we’re going to get a similar outcome,” said Klarity FX’s Sahota.

Retail sales for January are due out on Thursday, with economists expecting a 0.1% decline for January, from a 0.6% rise in December, a Reuters poll showed.

The euro slipped 0.1% against the dollar to $1.0771, falling from a 10-day high touched in early trading. A reading of the euro zone’s economic growth in the fourth quarter on Wednesday could provide fresh direction.

“While it won’t necessarily impact CPI dramatically this month, the most recent round of PMI (purchasing managers index) surveys showed prices increasing for 58.5% of respondents across the two surveys, suggesting inflation could well tick up as we move into spring,” Matthew Weller, global head of research, FOREX.com and City Index, wrote in a research note.

“This is no doubt a concern for the Fed, and may lead to a smaller-than-expected reaction even if this week’s (lagging) CPI reading comes in below expectations,” Weller added.

Changing expectations of when and how quickly central banks will cut interest rates as inflation falls are a significant driver of currency markets at present.

Strong jobs data this month has largely taken a Fed rate cut in March off the table, with markets seeing a move in May as somewhat more likely.

Elsewhere, there is plenty of data due this week in Britain, including inflation and gross domestic product (GDP) numbers with the former, on Wednesday, similarly likely to influence opinion on when the Bank of England will start to cut interest rates. It is currently seen lagging the Fed and ECB.

Sterling was last trading at $1.2628, little changed on the day.

Markets are also keeping an eye on the highly rate-sensitive yen, which strengthened sharply late last year as markets priced in early U.S. rate cuts, but has since weakened as that timing got pushed back.

Japanese authorities intervened in late 2022 to prop up the yen, which weakened to as much as 151.94 per dollar. The dollar was last flat against the yen at 149.31.

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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