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US dollar steady as Fed policy in focus

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 06:25
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The US dollar was mildly weaker on Tuesday for the second straight day as investors took some profits from the greenback's recent strength and evaluated whether the Federal Reserve would to raise interest rates this year.

[NEW YORK] The US dollar was mildly weaker on Tuesday for the second straight day as investors took some profits from the greenback's recent strength and evaluated whether the Federal Reserve would to raise interest rates this year.

The greenback had rallied around 3 per cent since the end of September, mirroring a climb in benchmark US Treasury yields to a four-month high above 1.8 per cent on expectations that the Fed would raise rates by December.

"The dollar's gotten stronger as more people think the Fed will hike rates in December," said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

Weaker US economic data in the past few days, including disappointing retail sales on Friday, has led investors to book some profits.

"We've had some disappointing US economic data. I think that it's spurring a little bit of a correction. It's mostly a technical correction after the run-up," said Mr Chandler.

Data on Tuesday showed that US consumer prices recorded their biggest gain in five months in September.

The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was last unchanged on the day at 97.890.

The US dollar has largely tracked US Treasury yields in recent weeks, which have increased as investors anticipate a rate hike is more likely.

"It's tracking the bond market... Most market participants are looking at the Fed for a potential hike in December and as the odds of that increase or decrease, there's some correlation with how the dollar's moving," said Richard Scalone, co-head of foreign exchange at TJM Brokerage in Chicago.

The British pound was one of the best performers against the US dollar on Tuesday after a government lawyer said parliament would "very likely" have to ratify any deal to take Britain out of the European Union, and following stronger-than-expected inflation numbers.

"That took a market that was overly short and put in a little bit of uncertainty to whether Brexit would be enacted sooner rather than later. That has squeezed some of the shorts," said Mr Scalone.

The pound was last up 0.92 per cent against the US dollar at US$1.2294.

The market is also focused on the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday. The bank is expected to keep policy unchanged, according to a majority of traders polled by Reuters.

REUTERS

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