Dollar stuck near 5-month low as caution reigns ahead of U.S. CPI, ECB tests
The dollar continued to hover near a five-month low versus major peers on Thursday as investors looked to key U.S. inflation data and a European Central Bank meeting later in the day to potentially set the direction for currency markets.
Investors have adopted a wait-and-see attitude all week, sucking volatility from the market and leaving major currencies mostly range-bound.
The dollar index has fluctuated narrowly around the psychologically important 90 level, and was last at 90.137.
The euro rose to a one-week high at $1.2218 on Wednesday only to finish little changed, and was essentially flat at $1.2178 in Asia.
The yen traded at 109.62 per dollar, also little changed from Wednesday and near the middle of the 109.19-110.325 range of the past two weeks.
Deutsche Bank’s Currency Volatility Index (.DBCVIX) languished at its lowest level since February 2020.
The U.S. Labor Department’s consumer prices data has been much anticipated after last month’s report showed consumer prices increased by the most in nearly 12 years in April.
That has stoked bets that higher prices could last longer than some anticipate, potentially calling into question the Federal Reserve’s insistence that current inflation pressures are transitory and monetary stimulus should stay in place for some time yet.
Economists polled by Reuters estimated the CPI advanced 0.4% in May.
While the greenback has kept to tight ranges in the run-up to the report, benchmark 10-year Treasury yields – which helped drive the dollar index to a multi-year high earlier this year – has taken a sizeable step lower in the past week and was at 1.4874% in Asia from as high as 1.6350% on Friday.
“It feels like the balance of risk is tilted to the upside on U.S. CPI versus the consensus, which would favour a sell-off in Treasuries – (and thus) higher yields – and subsequently a stronger USD,” Chris Weston, head of research at brokerage Pepperstone in Melbourne, wrote in a note to clients.
“Bonds seem overbought.”
With the ECB, investors will be watching for any clues of an imminent slowdown to its bond-buying program.
While the ECB is widely expected to keep policy settings steady, the euro could be sensitive to changes in the bank’s economic forecasts or any signal that the pace of bond buying could be reduced in months ahead.
In crypto markets, bitcoin held gains from its biggest rally in four months on Wednesday, when it jumped nearly 12%. It last traded little changed at $37,097.02, after rebounding from a three-week low of $31,025 hit on Tuesday when signs of institutional investor caution and regulatory attention drove selling.