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Dollar heads for small weekly loss; Fed rate cuts in focus

Published 23/02/2024, 10:24
Updated 23/02/2024, 10:24
© Reuters - The U.S. dollar steadied in early European trade Friday, as traders balanced elevated risk sentiment with hawkish signals from the Federal Reserve which cast more doubts over the likelihood of early U.S. rate cuts.

At 04:15 ET (09:15 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, traded marginally lower at 103.850.

It fell to 103.43 overnight, the lowest since Feb. 2, but remains below the 104.97 level reached on Feb. 14, which was the highest since Nov. 14. 

Dollar on course for small weekly loss

The dollar is on course for a losing week, with traders seeking out more cyclical currencies in the wake of blockbuster earnings from AI darling Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) which boosted investors’ confidence around the globe.

However, losses are minor amid more signals that the Fed will keep rates higher for longer, following on from the minutes of the late-January meeting, released on Wednesday, which showed that the central bank was in no hurry to reduce interest rates in the near-term. 

Fed Governor Christopher Waller said on Thursday that he needed more evidence that inflation was cooling, before the central bank would consider interest rate cuts.

His comments were the latest among a slew of other Fed officials who said that the bank was in no hurry to begin trimming monetary policy. 

Waller’s comments came just hours after data showed jobless claims unexpectedly fell over the past week, signaling continued strength in the labor market, which gives the Fed even less impetus to cut rates early.

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“Risk-sensitive assets would normally suffer from an easing pushback, but the narrative in equity markets is strictly one of tech-driven outperformance after very strong results from Nvidia,” said analysts at ING, in a note.

German economy contracted in 4Q

In Europe, EUR/USD traded largely flat at 1.0826, but remained below Thursday’s high of 1.0889, the highest since Feb. 2, after data showed the downturn in eurozone business activity eased in February, suggesting signs of recovery.

Still, data released Friday confirmed that the German economy contracted 0.3% in the fourth quarter. 

While the eurozone’s largest economy managed to avoid a technical recession last year, with no growth in the second and third quarters, the Bundesbank said, in a regular monthly report on Monday, that Germany is likely in recession now as external demand is weak, consumers remain cautious and domestic investment is held back by high borrowing costs.

GBP/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.2666, below the 1.2710 level seen overnight, the highest since Feb. 2, after U.K. consumer confidence dipped in February, new survey data from GfK showed.

Yen remains above key level

In Asia, USD/JPY traded 0.1% higher to 150.70, with a market holiday in Japan limited trading volumes. The pair remained above the 150 level, with the outlook for the Japanese yen somewhat soured by persistent concerns over a slowing Japanese economy, after it unexpectedly entered a recession in the fourth quarter. 

USD/CNY edged 0.1% higher to 7.1984, amid continued focus on whether Beijing will unlock more stimulus measures to support the economy.

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