Home Forex News US dollar modestly higher as sticky inflation persists, yen hits 34-year low

US dollar modestly higher as sticky inflation persists, yen hits 34-year low


By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The dollar rose moderately on Thursday in choppy trading, as weaker-than-expected March U.S. producer prices did not relieve concerns about persistent inflation which has reinforced the belief that the Federal Reserve will delay cutting interest rates this year.

Fed officials who spoke on Thursday also repeated the need for a patient approach in easing monetary policy, boosting the dollar.

Thursday’s data showed the producer price index (PPI) rose 0.2% month-on-month in March, compared with an 0.3% increase expected by economists polled by Reuters. On a year-on-year basis, it rose 2.1%, versus an estimated 2.2% gain.

The U.S. currency fell after the PPI news but has rebounded.

A separate report showed 211,000 U.S. initial jobless claims for the week ended April 6, compared with a forecast for 215,000, reflecting persistent labor market tightness. The dollar barely responded as investors focused on inflation.

The PPI report followed a stronger-than-expected consumer prices index (CPI) released on Wednesday. The U.S. CPI rose 0.4% on a monthly basis in March, compared with expectations for a 0.3% increase.

“The CPI has done enough damage to the outlook for an earlier rate cut,” said Thierry Albert Wizman, global FX and rates strategist, at Macquarie in New York.

“We may have to live with that in order to get three more months of low inflation and that means a cut is delayed.”

In afternoon trading, the greenback was flat against the yen at 153.23 yen, after sliding below 153 yen after the PPI data. Earlier in the session, the dollar hit a fresh 34-year high of 153.32 yen.

The yen’s slide against the dollar has reignited intervention fears, as Japanese officials reiterated they would not rule out any steps to deal with excessive swings.

Japan intervened in the currency market three times in 2022 as the yen slid toward a 32-year low of 152 to the dollar.

The dollar index, a measure of the greenback’s value against six major currencies, was up 0.1% at 105.26 (=USD). Against the Swiss franc, the dollar slid 0.3% to 0.9098 francs.

Following the PPI data, the U.S. rate futures market has priced in a roughly 69% chance of a Fed rate cut in September, the CME’s FedWatch tool showed. This timeline emerged after Wednesday’s hotter-than-expected consumer price index last month. For weeks, rate futures had factored in a June rate cut.

Fed fund futures have also pared back the number of rate cuts of 25 basis points (bps) this year to fewer than two, or roughly 42 bps, from about three or four a few weeks ago.

“Market-implied rate expectations haven’t budged materially from yesterday’s levels and extraordinarily wide rate differentials are keeping the U.S. dollar elevated,” said ,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Corpay in Toronto.

In other currencies, the euro was last down 0.1% at $1.07026 . Earlier, it fell to a two-month low of $1.0699 after the European Central Bank held interest rates at a record high of 4% as expected, but sent a signal it was preparing for a cut.

In the United States, the Fed signaled on Thursday a rate cut is not imminent.

New York Fed President John Williams said while the U.S. central bank has made considerable progress in lowering inflation, it does not yet need to move to an easier monetary policy setting given volatile movements in inflation.

“There’s no clear need to adjust monetary policy in the very near term,” given where the economy now stands, Williams said.

Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin, a voter this year on the Fed’s policy-setting committee, echoed the same sentiment. He said the latest numbers did not increase his confidence that price pressures were easing on a broader basis throughout the economy.

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