Dollar steady as traders bet Fed will pause, yuan wilts

Dollar steady as traders bet Fed will pause, yuan wilts

Shafaq News / The U.S. dollar was clinging close to a more than one week peak on Friday as a slew of data overnight pointed to a slowing U.S. economy, with investors betting that the Federal Reserve will pause its interest rate increases.

The dollar index , which measures the U.S. currency against six rivals, eased 0.078% at 102, not far from the 102.15 it touched overnight, the highest since May 2. The index is set to snap a two-week losing streak, gaining 0.7% this week.

Carol Kong, a currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said the market was probably encouraged by weak U.S. economic data and continues to price in some pretty aggressive rate cuts by the Fed this year.

"Given the data calendar today is pretty light, I think currencies are likely remain in the recent ranges and markets will be pretty quiet going into the weekend."

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits jumped to a 1-1/2-year high last week, pointing to cracks in the labour market as demand slows, according to data on Thursday, which also showed that producer prices rebounded modestly in April.

The reports were seen as consistent with most economists' expectations of a recession by the end of the year.

Markets are pricing in a 98% chance of the Fed standing pat in its June meeting but has started to price in deep cuts in interest rates by the end of the year, the CME FedWatch Tool showed. Rate futures contracts point to trader expectations for the Fed to start cuts in September.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari said on Thursday that an extended period of high interest rates and an inverted yield curve could put more stress on banks, but would be necessary if inflation stays stubbornly high.

Christopher Wong, a currency strategist at OCBC, said there is still a wide disconnect between markets and the Fed on the timing and size of rate cuts, with markets looking for cuts of around 75 to 80 basis points, while the Fed seems to be determined to keep rates on hold.

"There will be volatility when the market adjusts to close up the disconnect," Wong said. "In the event, markets will eventually unwind their dovish hopes and re-align their rate expectations with the Fed, then USD may still find some support."

Fed policymakers have about five more weeks of data to parse before their next meeting, and have said they intend to sift through it carefully before making their decision.

Also weighing on sentiment was the looming deadline for the U.S. debt ceiling, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen due to discuss the impasse over raising the debt ceiling with board members of the Bank Policy Institute lobby group next week.

Meanwhile, China's yuan weakened past a key threshold to a new two-month low against the dollar on Friday, while the Aussie and the Kiwi both slid to their one-week lows.

The Australian dollar was last down 0.09% at $0.670, while the New Zealand dollar fell 0.57% to $0.626.

Data through the week suggested that China's economic recovery is losing steam, with weak confidence holding back post-pandemic spending and growth.

Weak inflation and credit developments will likely prompt China's central bank to ease monetary policy to support the recovery this year, said Silvia Dall’Angelo, senior economist at Federated Hermes. "We still expected Chinese growth to overshoot the government's 5% target for this year."


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