Dollar ticks up as investors gauge rates outlook


The dollar inched higher on Monday after rising for the fifth week straight on the back of strong inflation data, while the yen traded near the psychologically important 150 level.

U.S. markets are closed for the Presidents’ Day holiday, with trading volumes likely to be low throughout the day.

The dollar index, which tracks the currency against six peers, was last up 0.13 per cent at 104.35, after rising 0.18 per cent the previous week.

It rose to its highest since mid-November last Tuesday to 104.97 after figures showed U.S. inflation came in stronger than expected in January, causing investors to dial down the number of interest rate cuts they expect from the Federal Reserve this year. But it slipped on Thursday after data showed retail sales fell last month.

“In theory last week should have been a good week for the dollar, but the dollar didn’t really hold on to its gains,” Chris Turner, global head of markets at ING, said.

“Are we getting near to the point where the pricing in the Fed cycle is about right?”

The euro was down 0.12 per cent at $1.0763, after falling to a three-month low of $1.0695 last week. Sterling was unchanged at $1.2595.

Survey-based purchasing managers’ index data, released on Thursday, will give a sense of the health of the euro zone and UK economies in February.

The minutes from the Fed’s last meeting, due on Wednesday, are likely to be the main release for investors this week.

Investors expect around 90 basis points of Fed rate cuts this year, according to money market pricing, down sharply from around 145 basis points at the start of February.

The dollar slipped 0.1 per cent against the yen on Monday, taking it to 150.08 yen.

It remains around 6 per cent higher against the yen this year as Japan has kept its ultra-loose monetary policy in place. That has created a wide gap between the two countries’ bond yields which has boosted the attractiveness of the dollar.

The rally has prompted speculation among investors that the Japanese authorities could intervene to boost their currency.

Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki last week warned that “rapid moves are undesirable for the economy”.

Weekly data from the U.S. markets regulator showed speculators again increased their net short position against the yen, taking it to a more than two-month high worth $9.2 billion.

China’s onshore yuan barely budged as investors returned from the week-long Lunar New Year break, despite tourism revenues surging during the holiday. It last changed hands for around 7.1987 per dollar.


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