LONDON (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar slipped as European markets opened on Wednesday, while the Australian dollar pared gains, having jumped following surprisingly strong inflation data which raised the possibility of sooner-than-planned rate hikes.
Currency markets have been generally quiet in recent sessions as investors wait for the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting next week.
Investors are also looking to policy announcements this week from the European, Canadian and Japanese central banks for clues on the outlook for rates amid a backdrop of supply-side driven global inflation pressures.
At 0802 GMT, the U.S. dollar index was down less than 0.1% at 93.877.
Short-term U.S. Treasury yields spiked overnight as investors bet that inflation would bring forward interest rate rises.
Standard Chartered FX analysts wrote in a client note that they expect currency market risk sentiment to be limited until the Fed next week, where “hawkish risks are still under-priced”.
The Australian dollar was up 0.2% at $0.7513, having reached as high as $0.7536 overnight after data showed that Australian core inflation sped to a six-year high in September, surprising the market. The data prompted a spike in short-term yields.
The Reserve Bank of Australia meets on Tuesday next week and market pricing is at odds with RBA policymakers’ insistence that there will be no rate hikes before 2024.
“The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) might be forced into action after all,” wrote Commerzbank analyst Antje Praefcke in a note to clients, referring to rising 3-year yields.
“The market is likely to increasingly assume that the RBA will have to rethink its expansionary monetary policy further due to economic and inflationary developments, which is likely to principally support AUD.”
The U.S. dollar was down around 0.4% against Japan’s yen, with the pair changing hands at 113.745 – still within recent ranges and close to the four-year high of 114.695 the dollar touched against the yen one week ago.
“Short-JPY positions have clearly become a very popular trade among speculators… but it still seems hard to see the yen finding sustained support at the moment,” wrote ING FX strategists in a client note.
“115.00 in USD/JPY now appears a matter of when, rather than if.”
The Bank of Japan meets on Thursday and is widely expected to downgrade its economic assessment, with markets betting on no rate hike in the foreseeable future.
The Canadian dollar was little changed at $1.2402 ahead of Canada’s central bank policy announcement later in the session.
The central bank is expected to raise its inflation forecast and to largely end stimulus from its pandemic-era bond buying program, starting a countdown of sorts to the first interest rate hike since October 2018
The euro was up around 0.1% at $1.1605. The European Central Bank, which meets on Thursday, is expected to take a dovish stance.
The British pound was down 0.2% against the euro at 84.39 pence per euro. The UK’s budget forecasts will be unveiled later in the session but are not expected to impact the pound.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was down 2% at around $59,114, having been knocked off the all-time high of $67,016.50 it reached last week.
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