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Dollar eases after jump in U.S. jobless claims; Fed in focus

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An employee deals with U.S. one-hundred dollar banknotes at a bank on June 16, 2022 in Hai an, Nantong City, Jiangsu Province of China. 

Xu Jinbai | VCG | Getty Images

The dollar retreated on Friday, dragged down by lower U.S. Treasury yields after a spike in weekly jobless claims raised hopes that a peak in U.S. interest rates was near, as the focus turned to the upcoming week packed with central bank meetings.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits surged to the highest in more than 1½ years last week, data on Thursday showed, though layoffs are probably not accelerating as the data covered the Memorial Day holiday, which could have injected some volatility.

Nonetheless, that was enough to knock the U.S. dollar to a more than two-week low against a basket of currencies in the previous session, as investors took the data as a sign that the U.S. labor market was slowing.

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The dollar index last stood at 103.41 in Asia trade on Friday, having lost more than 0.7% in the previous session, its largest daily decline in weeks.

The index, which measures the U.S. currency against six major peers, is down 0.6% for the week, set for its worst week since mid-March.

Against the Japanese yen, the greenback dipped to a one-week low of 138.765, tracking a slide in U.S. Treasury yields. It was fetching 139.27 per dollar.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield last stood at 3.7317%, after falling 7 basis points on Thursday. The two-year yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, steadied at 4.5261%.

“We do think that the U.S., like many economies, will go through a shallow recession this year. So that’ll show up in payrolls numbers and jobless claims and these sorts of numbers,” said Jarrod Kerr, chief economist at Kiwibank.

Elsewhere, sterling touched a near one-month high of $1.2564, while the kiwi eased 0.11% to $0.6089.

The Turkish lira tumbled more than 1% against the dollar to a record low of 23.54 after President Tayyip Erdogan appointed Hafize Gaye Erkan, a finance executive in the United States, to head Turkey’s central bank.

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“A return to policy orthodoxy seems inevitable given the materially diminished foreign exchange reserves and 40% inflation,” said Mohammed Elmi, senior portfolio manager for emerging markets fixed income at Federated Hermes.

Action-packed central bank week

Markets are now turning their attention to the coming week which will see the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan announce interest rate decisions following their respective policy meetings.

The Fed takes center stage, with money markets leaning toward a pause, though they have priced in a 25% chance that the U.S. central bank delivers a 25 bps rate hike.

“A slowing U.S. economy gives the Fed room to pause after 500 bps of consecutive interest rate rises,” said Guillermo Felices, global investment strategist at PGIM Fixed Income.

“The key question for markets is whether the Fed will just skip a hike in June and resume their tightening campaign in July.”

Meanwhile, a clear majority of economists polled by Reuters expect the ECB to hike its key interest rates by 25 bps on June 15 and again in July before pausing for the rest of the year as inflation remains sticky.

The euro was last steady at $1.0776, flirting with Thursday’s over two-week high of $1.0787. The single currency is up 0.6% for the week and on course to snap four-week losing streak.

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The Canadian dollar last bought C$1.3371, not far from its one-month high of C$1.3321 hit on Wednesday, while the Aussie stood near a roughly one-month peak at $0.6711.

Both currencies have drawn support from surprise rate increases by their respective central banks this week, which caused markets to revise their expectations for a peak in global interest rates.

China’s yuan weakened as deepening factory gate deflation added to investors’ concerns about the country’s fragile economic recovery.

Source: CNBC

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