Dollar rises on strong U.S. data, Fed signals

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar climbed on Wednesday, nearing a 3 1/2-month high against the yen, as investor optimism about the greenback rose ahead of major announcements on U.S. fiscal and monetary policy after strong economic data.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar notes are seen in this November 7, 2016 picture illustration. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The Federal Reserve kept U.S. overnight interest rates unchanged and highlighted “solid” economic growth at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting. Analysts said the Fed’s statement indicated that a rate hike next month is overwhelmingly likely.

Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX Strategy at BK Asset Management, said the statement was the Fed’s latest clue to the market that it planned to begin a cycle of interest rate increases rather than just a “one-and-done” hike.

“As that begins to disseminate to the market, that’s going to be dollar positive,” he said.

The Fed’s decision followed strong data releases on the U.S. economy. The ADP National Employment survey showed private employers added 235,000 jobs in October, surpassing estimates for 200,000 and setting up expectations for a strong U.S. nonfarm payrolls report on Friday.

The ADP number was the latest in a string of strong data releases on the U.S. economy that have backed the Federal Reserve’s stance that weakness in reports earlier this year was transitory.

“There’s a lot of positivity in the air,” said Juan Perez, a currency strategist at foreign exchange company Tempus Inc in Washington.

Perez pointed to recent positive readings on U.S. gross domestic product, consumer confidence, housing prices and inflation data. Additionally, no other central bank is seen as likely to raise rates in the near term, except for the Bank of England, an expectation which has already been priced into the market.

The market also is focused on President Donald Trump’s tax reform plans, which are expected to be revealed soon, and his pick for Fed chair, slated for Thursday.

The dollar rose 0.5 percent against the yen JPY=, hovering below its highest since mid-July.

The greenback rose 0.6 percent against the Swiss franc CHF=, nearing its highest since mid-May.

The euro EUR= fell to $1.1615.

The New Zealand dollar NZD=D4 rose as much as 1.2 percent to a one-week high after data showed the country's jobless rate had sunk to a nine-year low.

Bitcoin, which has more than doubled in price since mid-September, touched another all-time high, hitting $6,622 on the European Bitstamp exchange, boosted by bets that it could enter the financial mainstream after CME Group said it would launch bitcoin futures trading BTC=BTSP.

Reporting by Dion Rabouin; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker