Major currencies steady ahead of key U.S. inflation data

Major currencies steady ahead of key U.S. inflation data

12 Apr    Finance News, PMN Business, REU

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LONDON — Major global currencies including the U.S. dollar were steady on Wednesday ahead of U.S. inflation data which investors will scrutinize for clues as to when the Federal Reserve could end its rate hiking cycle.

The March inflation reading, due at 1230 GMT, is forecast to come in at 5.2% year on year, down from 6.0% previously, while core inflation likely ticked higher to 5.6%, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

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A raft of Federal Reserve speakers on Tuesday offered little guidance on how much further U.S. interest rates would rise. New York Fed President John Williams said it depended on incoming data.

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Philadelphia Fed Bank President Patrick Harker said he felt that the end of rate hikes may be near, while Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee said that the U.S. central bank should be patient about raising interest rates in the face of recent banking sector stress.

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“Today’s highlight is the March U.S. CPI, and while everyone is talking about it, it is unlikely to tell us anything we do not already know,” said Marc Chandler, Chief Market Strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex.

“Headline price pressures are easing but the core rate is sticky, and despite comments from the Chicago Fed president about the need for patience, the odds of a hike next month have crept up,” he said.

The banking turmoil sparked by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last month has added to bets that the Federal Reserve would not raise rates as high as previously expected in order to ease stress on the sector.

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Money markets are now pricing in a roughly 74% chance that the Fed will raise rates by 25 basis points next month, though multiple rate cuts are also being priced in as early as July through to the end of the year.

Inflation data “could be the difference between a 25 bp hike or pause at the Fed’s next meeting in May,” said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at City Index, adding that money markets could “quickly revert to reprice a policy pause” if the inflation data comes in softer than expected.

Against a basket of currencies, the U.S. dollar index was steady at 102.08. After surging almost 3% in February, the index fell 2.3% in March and is down 0.5% so far in April.

Against the yen, the dollar was unchanged at 133.65 after briefly rising to a nearly one-month high of 134.045, a reflection of the stark contrast between the Fed’s aggressive monetary policy tightening cycle and the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) ultra-loose policy.

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The International Monetary Fund said in its global financial stability report released on Tuesday that the Bank of Japan could help prevent abrupt policy changes later by allowing more flexibility in its yield curve control policy.

Sterling edged 0.1% lower to $1.2410, but held near a 10-month high hit last week. The euro inched up 0.1% to $1.0924, after touching a one-month high last week.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin slipped 0.74% to $30,001, holding above the key $30,000 level after breaching it for the first time in 10 months on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Joice Alves in London, additional reporting by Rae Wee in Singapore; Editing by Toby Chopra, Kirsten Donovan)

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