| 21 June 2024, Friday |

Dollar steady as China disappoints, traders eye Jackson Hole meeting

Following five weeks of increases, the dollar held steady in Asia trading on Monday, as investors looked ahead to the Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole symposium for hints on where rates may land when the dust of this raising cycle settled.

Last week, the US dollar gained 0.7% against the euro, 0.1% against the yen, and more than 1% against the Antipodean currencies as U.S. Treasury yields jumped in expectation of interest rates being higher for longer.

In Asia, the Australian dollar , at $0.6406, and the New Zealand dollar , at $0.5919, were pinned uncomfortably close to last week’s nine-month lows after China’s rate cut disappointed markets worried about a stalling economy.

China cut its one-year benchmark lending rate by 10 basis points and left its five-year rate unchanged, against economists’ expectations for 15 bp cuts to both.

The yuan slid to the weak side of 7.3 per dollar despite a firm fixing of its trading range by the central bank.

It last traded at 7.3070, though it has so far kept off last week’s lows beyond 7.31 that had brought state banks into spot markets in London and New York hours as buyers.

The Antipodean currencies often function as a liquid proxy for the yuan, owing to the region’s exports to China, and are doubly vulnerable as the rate outlook drives up the greenback.

“The Australian dollar will continue to underperform this week in our view,” strategists at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a note to clients.

“We consider there is a growing risk that the Aussie dips below $0.60 before year-end. It will likely take a big Chinese stimulus package focused on commodity-intensive infrastructure spending to turn around the downtrend.”

Like the yuan, the yen is also on intervention watch, having fallen to levels around which authorities stepped in last year. It was steady at 145.37 a dollar in Asia.

The euro held at $1.0880. Sterling hovered at $1.2739. The Swiss franc was just above a six-week low hit last week at 0.8820 per dollar.

Apart from waiting in vain for news of stimulus in China, the upcoming Jackson Hole symposium – where Fed chair Jerome Powell is set to speak on Friday – is markets’ major focus and may set the direction for U.S. yields.

Ten-year yields rose 14 basis points for the week and touched a 10-month high of 4.328%, within a whisker of a 15-year high. Thirty-year yields rose nearly 11 bps to their highest in more than a decade.

The theme this year for the annual gathering in Wyoming is “structural shifts in the global economy”.

“Two things that may come across are: decades of ultra-low rates backed by ultra-low inflation may be over,” said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

“And global policy-makers may prefer to maintain restrictive real rates for a while, thereby keeping risks from volatile inflation alive.”

Bitcoin , which was battered to a two-month low last week as rising U.S. yields and China’s slowing economy drove a wave of selling, nursed those losses at $26,054.

  • Reuters