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US dollar up in Asia but gains capped by rate-hike doubts

Friday, August 19, 2016 - 13:00
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The dollar rose against most Asian currencies on Friday but its gains were capped by doubts about the chances of a US interest rate hike this year.

[TOKYO] The dollar rose against most Asian currencies on Friday but its gains were capped by doubts about the chances of a US interest rate hike this year.

Speculation that the Federal Reserve would soon lift borrowing costs - a plus for the dollar - got a strong boost this week as an influential member of the central bank's New York branch hinted that a rate hike was possible as early as September.

A day later, minutes from the Fed's July meeting, released on Wednesday, said that policy members wanted to keep "options open" but remained divided on the need for a near-term rate hike.

The more cautious tone left markets unsure about a move next month.

"A dollar-buying trend will not emerge until US interest rates rise consistently on the back of a robust economy," Jun Kato, a senior fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management, told Bloomberg News.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the yen... zigzagged toward 95 (per dollar) over a three-month horizon."

In Tokyo, the dollar ticked up to 100.32 yen from 99.94 yen Thursday in New York, but it remains well off levels above 102 yen last week.

The euro changed hands at US$1.1333 and 113.70 yen against US$1.1354 and 113.48 yen in US trade.

Markets will be keeping a close eye on remarks from Fed chair Janet Yellen at an annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming next week.

"It would seem that Federal Reserve officials face a very complex, and possibly divisive, debate over the conundrum of an improving employment sector against a background of low inflation and tepid consumer spending," Stephen Innes, a senior trader at forex firm OANDA, wrote in a commentary.

In other trading, the dollar rose against most emerging units, jumping 1.08 per cent on the South Korean won and 0.7 per cent on the Taiwan dollar.

The US unit also tacked on healthy gains against the Thai baht, Singapore dollar, Philippine peso, Malaysia's ringgit and the Indonesian rupiah.

AFP

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