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By Peter Nurse – The U.S. dollar stabilized in early European trade Monday, trading just above a seven-month low on rising expectations that the Federal Reserve will slow the pace of its interest-rate hikes, while the Japanese yen gained ahead of a Bank of Japan meeting.

At 03:00 ET (08:00 GMT), the , which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, edged higher to 101.987, just above levels not seen since early June last year, although volumes are limited with the U.S. on holiday. 

The dollar is down well over 1% so far this year, with last week’s U.S. showing inflation fell for the first time in more than 2-1/2 years in December.

This seemingly confirmed earlier impressions that inflation is on the retreat, which has led to expectations that the U.S. is nearing the end of its rate-hike cycle, and that rates will not go as high as previously feared. 

The main U.S. economic release this week will be Wednesday’s U.S. . They posted their largest decline in 11 months in November and a similar drop in December would add to expectations that the Fed will cool its aggressive rate hikes to avoid more damage to the economy.

rose 0.1% to 128.00, just above its seven-month floor reached earlier Monday, with traders firmly focused on the ’s policy-setting meeting later in the week.

Expectations are growing that the BOJ would make further changes to its yield control policy when it announces its monetary policy decision on Wednesday, following its surprise move last month to widen the band around its 10-year bond yield target.

Prices are climbing in Japan, with inflation in the capital city Tokyo hitting 4% for the first time since 1982, and thus pressure is mounting on the central bank to shift away from its ultra-easy monetary policy.

“USD/JPY has come a long way very fast, but some of the longer-term skews in the FX options market point to a structural shift in the market’s view in USD/JPY,” said analysts at ING, in a note. “We suspect few will want to stand in the way of the USD/JPY downside. 126.50 looks like the clear near-term target for USD/JPY.”

Elsewhere, traded flat at 1.0827, after earlier hitting a fresh nine-month top of 1.0874, while edged lower to 1.2224, just off a new one-month peak.

fell 0.1% to 0.6968, after earlier breaching the key 0.7000 level for the first time since August, while rose 0.1% to 6.7090, with the yuan retreating slightly the central bank also injected more liquidity into markets to shore up economic growth, as the country grapples with its worst yet COVID-19 outbreak.

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