Home Economy News Dollar steady ahead of jobs data; yen hits two-week high

Dollar steady ahead of jobs data; yen hits two-week high


By Brigid Riley

TOKYO (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar held steady against peer currencies on Friday after rebounding from a two-week low, as traders braced for a key jobs report due later in the day and grew cautious over tensions in the Middle East.

The yen, while still close to the 152 range, hit a two-week high against the greenback as safe-haven bids and fresh warnings from Japanese authorities buoyed the currency.

Overall, however, major currencies were looking rather subdued on Friday before the March nonfarm payrolls report.

The dollar has had a turbulent week, falling from a five-month high to a two-week low after an unexpected slowdown in U.S. services growth supported expectations of bringing interest rates down.

Comments overnight from Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari that rate cuts might not be required this year if inflation continues to stall helped the dollar rebound from the dip.

Still, officials including Fed Chair Jerome Powell have largely continued to focus on the need for more debate and data before interest rates are cut.

The jobs data, as well as incoming inflation readings next week, will be important in shaping the outlook for the Fed’s April 30-May 1 and June 11-12 policy meetings. Economists expect 200,000 jobs were added in March.

“Markets will likely be sensitive to any surprise in the jobs data today to assess the path of monetary policy from here,” said Charu Chanana, head of currency strategy at Saxo.

“Given the lack of coherent Fed messaging means data-dependency remains the order of the day.”

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was last largely unchanged at 104.18.

Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East also have traders on guard. U.S. President Joe Biden threatened on Thursday to condition support for Israel’s offensive in Gaza on it taking concrete steps to protect aid workers and civilians.

That has seen some safety bids coming into the yen, analysts said.

“We saw a clear bid for the yen late on Thursday as Israel’s tough talk in Iran prompted a call from Biden. And that means concerns over the Middle East conflict spreading will likely spill over to next week,” said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at City Index.

At the same time, Japanese authorities continue to jawbone against excessive currency weakness.

Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki on Friday reiterated the government’s resolve to take appropriate action against sharp yen falls.

Meanwhile, Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda said the central bank could “respond with monetary policy” if yen declines affect the country’s inflation and wages in ways that are hard to ignore, the Asahi newspaper reported on Friday.

The yen strengthened 0.29% versus the greenback to a two-week high of 150.92.

The euro was flat at $1.0835, while sterling was last trading at $1.26405.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin last rose 0.56% to $68,332.52.

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