SINGAPORE: The dollar was tentative on Tuesday as traders resisted placing large bets ahead of a slew of economic data this week, while the yen struggled near levels that triggered intervention last year.
The dollar index, which measures US currency against six key rivals, eased 0.077% at 103.85, after slipping 0.2% on Monday. The index is up 2% this month as resilient economic data bolstered expectations that interest rates may stay higher for longer.
That view gained more traction in the wake of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday suggesting that further rate increases may be needed to cool still-too-high inflation, though his promise to move with care at upcoming meetings provided for some uncertainty.
With the US central bank highlighting the interest rate path will be heavily dependent on data, the spotlight will be on a batch of economic indicators this week, including payrolls and personal consumption expenditure.
First up is job openings figures for July later in the day. Economists polled by Reuters expect job openings to come in at 9.465 million, easing slightly from June.
Carol Kong, currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said stronger than expected jobs data could boost market pricing for another Fed rate hike and push up the dollar.
Markets are pricing in a 78% chance of the Fed standing pat on interest rates next month, CME FedWatch tool showed, but the odds of a hike in the November meeting is now at 62% compared with 42% a week earlier.
“Our base case is that the Fed has completed its tightening cycle and will begin its easing cycle in March 2024,” CBA’s Kong said.
“But Powell’s hawkish comments at Jackson Hole suggest the risks are skewed to more tightening and a later start to the easing cycle.”
Elsewhere, traders are keeping a watchful eye on any signs of a possible intervention from Japanese authorities as the yen wallows near a nine-month low against the dollar.
The yen inched up 0.12% to 146.36 per dollar in Asian hours but remained close 146.75, its lowest level since Nov 9.
Japan intervened in currency markets last September when the dollar rose past 145 yen, prompting the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to buy the yen and push the pair back to around 140 yen. The yen is down 11% against the dollar for the year.
Japan’s low yields have made the currency an easy target for short-sellers and funding trades, with the widening gap in interest rates between Japan and the United States leading to persistent weakness in the yen.
“If US data, and consequently US yields, continue to be firm, we could see increasing pressure on yen,” Charu Chanana, market strategist at Saxo, said.
Chanana said the intervention threat has retreated at sub-150 levels, given lack of any currency related comments from Ueda at the Jackson Hole conference and no signs of verbal intervention yet.
The euro was up 0.11% at US$1.0829 ahead of euro zone inflation data later this week. The single currency is up for the second straight day, stepping away from the two month low it hit last week.
Sterling was last at US$1.2616, up 0.10% on the day, also moving off two-month lows from last week.
The Australian dollar added 0.03% to US$0.643, while the New Zealand dollar eased 0.02% to US$0.591.