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Federal Reserve's cautious cut supports US dollar, Australian dollar whipped by jobs data
[SINGAPORE] The dollar found broad support on Thursday after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, as expected, but offered mixed signals about future easing, while weak employment figures hit the Australian currency.
The greenback gained against major currencies except for the Japanese yen, which posted its sharpest daily rise in almost a month on some safe-haven buying. The Bank of Japan also met expectations by holding off on deeper monetary easing.
"There's such a lack of certainty on a number of fronts," said Nick Twidale, co-founder of Sydney-based trade finance provider Xchainge, citing dollar liquidity tightness and the gloomy outlook for global growth.
"I think we will see more dovish central banks still."
The biggest loser on that front was the Australian dollar, which had its worst day in a month as expectations for more central bank rate cuts leapt after joblessness hit a one-year high.
The Reserve Bank of Australia has been focusing on the labour market for clues as to whether another round of easing is necessary.
The Aussie dropped 0.6 per cent to a two-week low of US$0.6782 on the greenback and fell by a percentage point on the yen.
"With the economy growing at the slowest annual growth rate in a decade and jobs being lost in the construction sector...it appears that additional policy stimulus will be required," said Ryan Felsman, a senior economist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which now expects a rate cut next month.
The New Zealand dollar briefly jumped 0.2 per cent after June-quarter gross domestic product landed higher than expectations, before being swamped by a rising greenback and expectations of monetary easing in New Zealand.
The dollar was steady against the euro, standing at US$1.1034, and flat against the British pound, at US$1.2469, after overnight gains.
The yen's 0.5 per cent gain to 107.77 per dollar, after touching a seven-week low overnight, was its biggest daily rise since Aug. 23.
The moves came after the US central bank, on a 7-3 vote, said it had lowered the Fed funds target rate on Wednesday to a range of 1.75 per cent to 2.00 per cent "in light of the implications of global developments for the economic outlook."
However, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell described US prospects as "favourable" and the rate move as "insurance." He did not rule out future cuts, but his remarks were not as dovish as markets had hoped for which lifted bond yields and the dollar.
Projections published by the Fed showed policymakers expected rates to stay within the new range through 2020, while futures markets have priced in at least another cut.
"In the short term, this hawkish cut should still see the dollar well-bid, given that the path of interest rates outlined by the Fed is not close to that priced into the markets," said John Veils, Americas FX and macro strategist at BNY Mellon.
"The USD is still the highest-yielding currency in the G-10 world, a sign that it is also the least unattractive house in an increasingly blighted neighbourhood."