| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Dollar muted as markets brace for data fest; yen under pressure

The U.S. dollar was subdued on Tuesday as traders resisted placing large bets ahead of a slew of economic data this week, while the yen languished near levels that triggered intervention last year.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar eased 0.058% to 103.87, after slipping 0.2% on Monday.

The index is up 2% this month and is coming off a run of six straight weeks of gains as resilient U.S. economic data bolstered expectations that rates may stay higher for longer.

That view gained more traction after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested on Friday that further interest rate increases may be needed to cool still-too-high inflation, though his promise to move with care at upcoming meetings provided for some uncertainty.

With the U.S. central bank highlighting the rate path will be heavily dependent on data, the spotlight will be on a batch of economic indicators this week, including payrolls and personal consumption expenditure.

Data dependent central banks keep the currency market susceptible to the latest major indicators, strategists from BofA Global Research said in a note.

“Should U.S. growth begin to soften the market will re-focus on sooner rate cuts from the Fed. Conversely, resurgent inflation could pose over-tightening risks globally, introducing greater ‘hard landing’ risks.”

First up is job openings figures for July later in the day. Economists polled by Reuters expect job openings to come in at 9.465 million, easing slightly from June.

Carol Kong, currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said stronger-than-expected job data could boost market pricing for another Fed rate hike and push up the dollar.

Markets are pricing in a 78% chance of the Fed standing pat on interest rates next month, the CME FedWatch tool showed, but the odds of a hike in the November meeting are now at 62% compared with 42% a week earlier.

“Our base case is that the Fed has completed its tightening cycle and will begin its easing cycle in March 2024,” CBA’s Kong said.

“But Powell’s hawkish comments at Jackson Hole suggest the risks are skewed to more tightening and a later start to the easing cycle.”

  • Reuters