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Dollar holds gains after Fed minutes temper rate cut expectation

Thu Aug 22 2019



The dollar held gains on Thursday after minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting hosed down some aggressive expectations the central bank would embark on a series of deep interest rate cuts.


Asian currencies are expected to trade in tight ranges on Thursday ahead of US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's speech at Jackson Hole on Friday for signs of just how far the US central bank is prepared to lower rates.


His comments are of particular interest after an inversion in the Treasury yield curve highlighted the risk that the US economy may fall into recession. While the Fed's minutes tempered some dovish expectations, markets still broadly expect further rate cuts as growth slows.


“Yields are supportive of the dollar for now, but this may not last after Powell's speech,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior foreign exchange strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.


“Additional rate cuts are thoroughly priced in. If Powell sounds slightly hawkish, stocks could sell off, which would hurt the dollar against safe-haven currencies like the yen.”


At the Fed's last meeting in July, the US central bank cut interest rates for the first time in a decade to 2.00-2.25 per cent. The Fed next meets from September 17-18.


The dollar held steady at 106.50 yen following a 0.36 per cent gain on Wednesday, its biggest since August 13.


The greenback drifted higher versus the Chinese yuan in offshore trade, last trading at 7.0694 yuan. In onshore trading, the yuan opened at 7.0635 per dollar versus its previous close at 7.0633.


The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday warned against governments trying to weaken their currencies through monetary easing or market intervention.


This could place unwanted attention on the yuan after the US Treasury declared China a currency manipulator in an escalation of the US-China trade war.


Against the Swiss franc, the dollar traded at 0.9829, close to a two-week high of 0.9831.


Fed policymakers were deeply divided over whether to cut interest rates last month but were united in wanting to signal they were not on a pre-set path to more cuts.


However, this message is not likely to sit well with US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticised Powell for not cutting interest rates more aggressively.


Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields gained after the minutes, but interest rate futures are pricing in a 100 per cent probability of a Fed rate cut at its September meeting, a 75 per cent chance of an additional cut in October, and a 48 per cent likelihood of another cut in December, the CME's FedWatch tool shows.


The Fed and other central banks are cutting interest rates to contain a global economic slowdown caused by a prolonged trade war between the US and China.


Sterling traded a tad lower at 91.39 pence per euro, on course for its second day of losses, as uncertainty about Britain's divorce from the European Union weighed on the pound. Against the greenback, sterling was little changed at $1.2127.


French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday there would be no renegotiation of the terms for Britain's exit from the EU.


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to meet Macron in Paris on Thursday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel challenged Britain to come up with alternatives to the Irish border backstop within 30 days after meeting Johnson on Wednesday.


Johnson, who won the premiership a month ago, is betting the threat of “no-deal” Brexit turmoil will convince Merkel and Macron that the EU should do a last-minute deal to remove the Irish backstop.


Traders are also eyeing a Group of Seven leaders' summit in France over the weekend to see how the world's major economies will approach Brexit, the US-China trade war, and other risks to global growth.


Source: Reuters

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