Dollar heads for strongest week this year on Fed hike bets

Reuters Singapore | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on May 12, 2017
The dollar held steady at 113.85 yen

The dollar held steady at 113.85 yen

The focus now is on whether forthcoming US economic indicators, due later on Friday, will provide the spark for the dollar.

The dollar traded near a three-week high on Friday, on track for its strongest week this year, as robust producer price and labour market data bolstered expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise US interest rates again in June.

A rally to 14-year highs for the dollar, inspired by the election of US President Donald Trump, has fizzled out since the start of this year. The currency has fallen as much as 5 per cent as the pro-growth measures Trump had promised have been called into question.

But despite a wobble earlier in the week after Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey - which was suspected to have been driven by political motives - the dollar was up around 1 per cent for the week against its broad index, after reaching a three-week high on Thursday.

That, said analysts, was partly the result of a broad market focus shift away from politics and back towards monetary policy. With investors now pricing in an 80 per cent chance of a Fed rate hike next month, while other central banks continue to ease policy, that could drive the dollar higher.

“Although the market now fully prices in a June hike, theres way too little tightening priced thereafter, in our view,” said BNP Paribas currency strategist Sam Lynton-Brown, in London.

“Currency investors have flipped to a net short position in the dollar... We think that position is vulnerable to an unwind, as market focus shifts from politically driven risk-on or risk-off (sentiment) to monetary policy divergence.”

The euro, which hit a six-month high above $1.10 at the start of the week on relief that the centrist Emmanuel Macron had beaten the far-right Marine Le Pen to become French president, was trading flat at $1.0865, down 1.2 per cent since Monday - its worst week in six.

Data released on Thursday showed new applications for US jobless benefits unexpectedly fell last week, while producer prices rebounded in April, pointing to a tightening labour market and rising inflation.

More US indicators are due later on Friday, including retail sales and the consumer price index for April.

The dollar was flat at 113.81 yen, down from its eight-week high of 114.38 yen reached earlier in the week.

The dollar has gained more than 4 per cent in the three weeks since the first round of the France's presidential elections, with the yen slipping as risk aversion receded.

Yet some analysts say that despite expectations for a Fed rate increase, uncertainty about US growth momentum and concern about the political implications of Trump's dismissal of Comey could limit the scope for near-term gains for the dollar.

“The dollar will probably trade in a 112 yen to 115 yen range for a while,” said Masashi Murata, currency strategist for Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo, adding that it will probably take some time for the greenback to break above 115 yen.

Published on May 12, 2017
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