NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar rose modestly on Wednesday after a measure of inflation excluding energy prices rose, prompting the greenback to reverse the prior day’s pullback.
The Labor Department reported that its Consumer Price Index was unchanged for the third straight month in January, held down by cheaper gasoline. But excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI gained 0.2 percent, rising by the same margin for a fifth straight month.
In the latest 12-month period, the so-called core CPI rose 2.2 percent for a third straight month. Evidence of inflation can increase the value of the dollar by raising expectations that the Federal Reserve will tighten monetary policy.
The dollar fell on Tuesday as investors put money in riskier assets on rising hopes of a breakthrough in U.S-China trade talks. It had gained for eight consecutive sessions at the end of Monday, the most since February 2017.
Risk appetite remained elevated on Wednesday - as seen in gains to the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average - yet the morning’s inflation print nevertheless kept the safe-haven dollar afloat.
“I don’t think people really know what to do with the dollar. There’s not a lot of conviction,” said Mark McCormick, North American head of foreign exchange strategy at TD Securities.
The dollar index rose by 0.42 percent to 97.120. It stood at $1.127 against the euro, about half a percent stronger.
The New Zealand dollar and Sweden’s crown rose after their central banks broke with the growing caution of the world’s major monetary-policy makers, surprising traders who had expected more dovish signals.
The kiwi was the stand-out performer after the neutral tone of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s policy announcement, which came as risk assets rallied.
The Swedish crown stormed higher after the Riksbank said the economic outlook had not changed much since December and it would stick to its plan to lift interest rates in the second half of 2019.
“Most of the gains we saw in the currency market overnight were in the Kiwi dollar and the Swedish crown which really reflect more idiosyncratic issues than broader market trends,” said Shaun Osborne, chief foreign exchange strategist at Scotia Capital.
The kiwi was last up about 1 percent to $0.680. Sweden’s crown rose 0.47 percent against the euro to 10.440 and 0.02 percent versus the dollar to 9.261.
Reporting by Kate Duguid and Tommy Wilkes; Editing by David Gregorio and Grant McCool