Dollar fights for footing as Fed minutes eyed

The dollar last traded at US$1.2134 per euro and has support around US$1.2179. The dollar index is likewise, at 90.389, just above key support at 89.677 and 89.206. It bought 109.45 yen and traded at US$0.7758 per Aussie and US$0.7228 per kiwi. — Reuters pic
The dollar last traded at US$1.2134 per euro and has support around US$1.2179. The dollar index is likewise, at 90.389, just above key support at 89.677 and 89.206. It bought 109.45 yen and traded at US$0.7758 per Aussie and US$0.7228 per kiwi. — Reuters pic

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SINGAPORE, May 17 — The US dollar found pockets of support in Asia today, but struggled to post gains, as investors are heavily positioned for it to fall further while the US Federal Reserve holds interest rates low and US trade and current account deficits grow. 

Easing commodity prices and virus outbreaks in Singapore and Taiwan — where Covid-19 had been contained — helped modest dollar gains of 0.2 per cent against the Australian and New Zealand dollars in the early part of the Asia session.

The greenback also rose 0.1 per cent against the euro and the yen. But it remains close to testing major support levels, which if broken could see a return to a downtrend that pressed it lower through April.

A dollar bounce that followed higher-than-expected inflation data last week has also faded as traders figure the Fed will keep rates low.

The dollar last traded at US$1.2134 per euro and has support around US$1.2179. The dollar index is likewise, at 90.389, just above key support at 89.677 and 89.206. It bought 109.45 yen and traded at US$0.7758 per Aussie and US$0.7228 per kiwi.

Fed minutes, from an April meeting that predated the data surprise on inflation last week, are due on Wednesday and are the next market focus for clues on the Fed’s thinking.

“We expect the minutes ... to reiterate that policymakers consider the pick up in inflation to be transitory,” said Kim Mundy, a currency strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.

“The upshot is that we do not expect the (Fed) to consider tapering its asset purchases soon,” she said. “The dollar is expected to resume its downtrend this week after last week’s CPI-inspired boost.” 

Speculators increased their bets against the dollar last week, mostly by adding to bets on the euro and to a lesser extent sterling as Britain and Europe head toward recovery.

Sterling was perched near a two-and-a-half-month high today, at US$1.4085, as Britain reopens its economy after a four-month Covid lockdown.

Things are travelling in the opposite direction in Asia where some early leaders in taming the pandemic are now dealing with new outbreaks. Singapore and Taiwan have both tightened curbs as cases rise and the Taiwan dollar fell to a three-week low today.

The dollar crept up 0.1 per cent against the Chinese yuan to trade at 6.4424 ahead of industrial output and retail sales figures due mid morning today.

Elsewhere crypto-currencies traded under pressure after another weekend bouncing around following tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk. Bitcoin hit its lowest since February yesterday after Musk hinted at Tesla possibly selling its holdings.

Bitcoin last traded 2 per cent weaker at US$45,302 and ether was 4 per cent lower at US$3,421. — Reuters

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