Dollar steady as sticky inflation dents rate cut expectations

Dollar steady as sticky inflation dents rate cut expectations

/ 10:27 AM February 19, 2024

Dollar steady as sticky inflation dents rate cut expectations

U.S. dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken March 10, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SINGAPORE   – The dollar was steady on Monday after data last week showing U.S. inflation remained sticky cast doubts on when the Federal Reserve would start its easing cycle, while the yen remained rooted near the psychologically key 150 per dollar level.

The yen has hovered around 150 level in the last few days, prompting officials to comment on the currency moves and keeping markets on alert to a possible intervention by Japanese authorities.


In early trade on Monday, the yen strengthened 0.20 percent to 149.94 per dollar but remains down 6 percent for the year, while against the euro yen hovered around three-month lows of 161.925.


Ministry of Finance officials “took the first step onto the intervention escalation ladder by warning against rapid moves and threatening action even outside of its time zone,” said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex.

Dollar index down

Chandler said there appears little on the charts to deter a test to last year’s low of 152 per dollar level.

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

The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against six major rivals, started the week down 0.058 percent at 104.14 after clocking five straight weeks of gains. The index is up 3 percent this year.

Data last week showed both U.S. producer prices and consumer prices increased more than expected in January, with the apparent stickiness in inflation raising the prospects of a delayed start to the Fed’s rate cuts.

READ: Fed signals ‘patience’ on rate cuts as data disappoints


Traders are now betting that June would be the starting point of the easing cycle compared with March at the beginning of the year, CME FedWatcg tool showed.

Markets have also taken out two quarter point rate cuts for this year to imply less than 100 basis points of easing, compared with 150 basis point of cuts expected at the start of the year.

Citi strategists said data last week confirmed that an economic soft landing has not been achieved and “make us more convinced that one will not be.” Declining retail sales, and the continuing rise in jobless claims all point to a softening economy, they said in a note.

Higher inflation

“And higher inflation makes it even more difficult for the Fed to respond by lowering rates, further raising the probability of a recession.”

Investor focus this week will be on the minutes of the Fed meeting from last month, scheduled for release on Wednesday. Several Fed officials including Christopher Waller and Raphael Bostic are also due to speak this week.

READ: Rents boost US consumer prices in Jan

Christopher Wong, currency strategist at OCBC, said the bulk of the hawkish adjustment in the market may have taken place and expects the dollar to consolidate in the absence of fresh catalysts.

Elsewhere, the euro was up 0.12 percent at $1.0787, while the sterling was last at $1.2624, up 0.21 percent on the day.

The pound got a lift on Friday after data showed UK retail sales grew at their fastest pace in nearly three years in January, although that did little to shift expectations around the Bank of England’s monetary policy outlook.

Markets still anticipate 64 basis points of cuts from the BOE this year.

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The Australian dollar rose 0.29 percent to $0.655, while the New Zealand dollar advanced 0.34 percent to $0.614.

TAGS: dollar, Inflation, Interest Rates

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