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Dollar holds steady as Powell speech approaches

Randy Mancini 6 Aug 26

By Alun John

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The dollar held onto recent gains against the euro and sterling on Friday ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s widely-anticipated speech, which traders hope will offer clues on the U.S. central bank’s tightening plans.

The euro was barely changed in Asian trade at $0.9971, having failed in several attempts this week to break back above parity against the dollar. It fell below that psychologically important level on Monday.

Sterling was down 0.14% at $1.1821, not far from its more than two-year low of 1.1718 hit early in the week.

A possible driver for the currency will be Britain’s energy regulator announcement later in the day of an eye-watering jump in a cap on energy prices, further boosting inflation in an already struggling British economy. Fuel price increases are passed on to British consumers through a price cap, calculated every three months.

The dollar index, which tracks the currency against six major peers, was at 108.5, on track for a 0.38% weekly gain and already up 2.5% in August.

Investors will eye Powell’s speech at the Jackson Hole symposium at 1400 GMT for any insight into how aggressively the Fed still plans to raise interest rates.

Policymakers have in recent weeks emphasised how important it is for the Fed to get inflation under control.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari said on Tuesday his biggest fear is that the U.S. central bank misreads the extent and persistence of price pressures and will need to deliver even more aggressive rate hikes to curb inflation.

“The smoke signals (from the Fed) have been, as Kashkari indicated, ‘if we have to err on the side of overtightening or not doing enough, we know what side we want to be on’,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank.

“I think there’s an element of wanting to be seen to be talking tough in the hope that the tougher they talk, the less we have to do in terms of policy.”

Investors will also look to Powell to see whether his comments on the long-term outlook could prompt markets to unwind 2023 monetary easing bets, underpinning the dollar, Attrill added.

Markets are currently positioned https://www.cmegroup.com/trading/interest-rates/countdown-to-fomc.html for U.S. rate hikes to peak this year or right at the start of 2023 and are pricing in rate cuts later that year on expectations policymakers will be more concerned about slowing growth than high inflation by then.

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar fell 0.27%, back below the psychological level of $0.7, but the Aussie has been performing better against the battered European currencies..

The Japanese yen drifted weaker at 136.81 per dollar.

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Currency bid prices at 0453 GMT

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Previous Change

Session

Euro/Dollar $0.9965 $0.9972 -0.07% -12.34% +0.9978 +0.9962

Dollar/Yen 136.8000 136.5450 +0.13% +18.87% +136.8100 +136.4250

Euro/Yen 136.33 136.14 +0.14% +4.61% +136.3600 +136.1000

Dollar/Swiss 0.9641 0.9637 +0.05% +5.70% +0.9646 +0.9638

Sterling/Dollar 1.1813 1.1838 -0.17% -12.61% +1.1836 +1.1807

Dollar/Canadian 1.2952 1.2924 +0.21% +2.43% +1.2956 +1.2922

Aussie/Dollar 0.6959 0.6981 -0.30% -4.25% +0.6982 +0.6954

NZ 0.6199 0.6226 -0.42% -9.42% +0.6225 +0.6197

Dollar/Dollar

All spots

Tokyo spots

Europe spots

Volatilities

Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ

(Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Kim Coghill)

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