Dollar wavers after Fed minutes offer few surprises
LONDON/SINGAPORE — The dollar was roughly flat in choppy trading on Thursday after the release of the latest Federal Reserve minutes.
Details of the discussion from the central bank’s December policy meeting, released on Wednesday, showed policymakers remain focused on curbing inflation and do not envisage interest rate cuts in 2023.
Analysts said the minutes were broadly in line with expectations, explaining the relatively muted reaction in markets.
The euro was last up 0.05% against the dollar at $1.061. It rose 0.54% on Wednesday after French inflation came in lower than expected, boosting optimism about the euro zone economy.
Fed officials projected in December that the main interest rate, currently in the 4.25%-4.50% range, would rise to just over 5% in 2023 and likely remain there for some time.
The latest minutes reiterated the hawkish message on Wednesday, saying that “no participants anticipated that it would be appropriate to begin reducing the federal funds rate target in 2023.”
The dollar index, which measures the currency against major peers, was last up 0.06% at 104.27 on Thursday.
It has fallen sharply from September’s 20-year high of 114.78 as investors have bet that a slowdown in growth and inflation will push the Fed to cut interest rates next year.
“There is definitely a real difference here between what the Fed believes and what the money market believes,” said Jane Foley, head of FX strategy at Rabobank.
Foley said brighter prospects for the euro zone and China were likely weighing on the dollar, and that economic data would determine whether the Fed sticks to its rate hike plans. The latest U.S. monthly employment figures, for December, are due on Friday.
Japan’s yen was up 0.07% at 132.55 per dollar, after falling 1.23% on Wednesday.
The yen has rebounded dramatically from a more than 30-year low of 151.94 reached in October. After a tweak last month, traders are betting the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will soon fully abandon its yield curve control (YCC) policy.
The BOJ is putting more emphasis on an inflation gauge that excludes fuel costs and will likely raise its projections for the index’s growth in quarterly forecasts due this month, sources told Reuters.
“We’re on our way out of YCC, so it’s just a question of timing,” said James Malcolm, head of FX strategy at UBS.
Malcolm said the end of ultra-loose monetary policy would likely boost the yen to 125 per dollar this year, although he said it could “overshoot considerably” and even reach 115.
Sterling was down 0.3% to $1.202, after rallying 0.76% on Wednesday.
The onshore yuan rose more than 0.3% to 6.872 per dollar as the currency continued to be underpinned by China’s reopening measures, despite a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Aussie dollar was last down 0.11% to $0.683, while the Kiwi was 0.06% higher at $0.629.
(Reporting by Harry Robertson and Rae Wee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Sam Holmes, Tomasz Janowski and Nick Macfie)
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