US dollar edges higher with focus on Fed for taper clues

US one-hundred dollar bills are seen in this photo illustration at a bank in Seoul August 2, 2013.  — Reuters pic
US one-hundred dollar bills are seen in this photo illustration at a bank in Seoul August 2, 2013. — Reuters pic

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LONDON, Sept 16 — The dollar climbed to the higher end of recent ranges against other major currencies today, as traders looked to next week’s Federal Reserve policy meeting for indications on how soon the U.S central bank will start to taper stimulus.

The dollar index, which measures the US currency against six others, was 0.3 per cent higher at 92.743.

It reached a two-week high of 92.887 at the start of the week, only to drop to a one-week low of 92.321 on Tuesday after a softer-than-expected inflation report. Its low for the month was 91.941, on September 3, when payrolls data disappointed.

Yesterday, industrial production data in the US marginally missed expectations, while import and export prices came in below expectations.

The figures, alongside this week’s inflation report, will help reduce pressure on the Federal Reserve at its meeting next week, said Robert Cobo Garcia, head of FX strategy at BBVA.

Even so, he said, commodity prices and the prices subcomponents of the “Empire” survey suggest inflation pressures driven by rising costs are not over.

“The transmission to final consumer prices will have implications for the Fed’s reaction function even though it may still be too early to see any change in the Fed’s stance in the FOMC meeting next week, especially after the downward surprise in core CPI,” Garcia wrote in a note to clients.

“Overall, domestic news flow and data could give some direction to the USD but ranges against FX majors should persist into the FOMC meeting next week.”

The Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) two-day policy meeting ending September 22 should provide some clarity on the outlook for both tapering and eventual interest rate hikes.

Tapering typically lifts the dollar as it suggests the Fed is one step closer to tighter monetary policy.

It also means the central bank will be buying fewer debt assets, in effect reducing the amount of dollars in circulation, which in turn lifts the currency’s value.

The dollar gained 0.1 per cent to 109.28 yen, after sliding to a six-week low of 109.110 in the previous session.

The euro was 0.4 per cent lower at US$1.1770 (RM4.89).

The Swiss franc was another loser against the dollar, falling to its lowest in more than 2 months at 0.9248 francs.

Norway’s crown

Elsewhere, Norway’s crown was a touch lower at 8.5965 per dollar, off the more than two-month high of 8.5598 reached overnight amid a rally in oil prices.

Against the euro, the crown touched its strongest level since June 25 at 10.1119.

The Australian dollar slipped back toward the lowest this month as Dalian iron ore prices slumped to a new low for the year.

The Aussie lost 0.2 per cent to US$0.7315, after dipping to US$0.73015 on Wednesday for the first time since August 31.

Earlier, data showed the country’s jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 4.5 per cent, but the statistics bureau said the change reflected a drop in the participation rate rather than a strengthening of the labour market.

The New Zealand dollar edged up 0.1 per cent to US$0.7112, giving up an earlier jump of as much as 0.47 per cent after the economy grew at a much faster pace than expected.

Strong gross domestic product data reinforced the view that the central bank will start lifting interest rates despite a recent coronavirus outbreak. — Reuters

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