Pressure on risk currencies ebbs, U.S. inflation in focus

4 minute read

A U.S. dollar banknote is seen in this illustration taken May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

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TOKYO, July 12 (Reuters) - Risk currencies hovered above their recent lows against the dollar and the yen on Monday, as fears about slowdown in the global economic recovery appeared to have subsided for now.

The outlook for U.S. inflation and the speed of the Federal Reserve's future policy tightening are back in focus ahead of Tuesday's consumer price data and Fed Chair Jerome Powell's testimony from Wednesday.

"If we see strong data, the Fed could bring forward their projection for their first rate hike further from their current forecast of 2023. That would also mean they have to finish tapering earlier," said Shinichiro Kadota, senior FX strategist at Barclays.

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The euro traded at $1.1868 , edging back from its three-month low of $1.17815 set on Wednesday while against the yen the common currency stood at 130.73 yen , off Thursday's 2-1/2-month low of 129.63 yen.

Sterling held at $1.3887 while the Australian dollar has bounced back from Friday's seven-month low of $0.7410, even if it traded a little soft through the Asia session at $0.7472 .

Risk currencies slipped earlier last week as investors curtailed their bets on them, in part as economic data from many countries fell short of the market's expectations.

Concerns about new coronavirus variants also added to the cautious mood. Although few investors thought the economic recovery would be derailed, vulnerable currencies such as the tourism-exposed Thai baht have been whacked.

The baht is above Friday's low but has lost about 5% against the dollar in a month and on Monday Thailand's central bank warned the economy may miss its projections as virus curbs hit growth.

Selling in other risk currencies has tended to subside since Friday, however, and sentiment has been helped after China cut banks' reserve requirement ratio (RRR) broadly to underpin a recovery that is starting to lose momentum.

"We think the larger-than-expected universal RRR cut is likely to reinforce market expectation that the PBoC is determined to keep liquidity stable," said Tommy Xie, head of Greater China research at OCBC Bank.

"It does not mean the start of monetary easing cycle, as the RRR cut was mainly to support small companies affected by rising raw material prices."

On Monday, the yuan was a tiny bit firmer at 6.4742 per dollar and Chinese shares and bonds rose.

Meanwhile, a recovery in risk sentiment hampered the safe-haven yen. The Japanese currency stood at 110.17 yen per dollar , off Thursday's one-month high of 109.535.

With the data calendar on Monday relatively bare, many investors are looking to Tuesday's U.S. consumer price data for June.

Economists polled by Reuters expect core CPI to have risen 0.4% from May and 4.0% from a year earlier after two straight months of sharp gains in prices.

Any signs that inflation could be more persistent than previously thought could fan expectations the Fed may exit from current stimulus earlier, supporting the dollar against other major currencies.

Conversely, more benign data could lead investors to think the U.S. central bank can afford to maintain an easy policy framework for longer, encouraging more bets on risk assets, including risk-sensitive currencies.

Cryptocurrencies were little moved, with bitcoin at $34,337 and ether at $2,150.

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Reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo. Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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