Dollar steadies, yuan slips after central bank moves to limit gains

LONDON, (Reuters) -The dollar hovered near five-month lows on Tuesday, losing out to commodity currencies, as investors waited for economic data to indicate the future direction for major currencies.

FILE PHOTO: Four thousand U.S. dollars are counted out by a banker counting currency at a bank in Westminster, Colorado November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

The dollar index was back below 90 in early European trading, having hit as high as 90.447 on Friday, when a measure of U.S. inflation closely watched by the Fed posted its biggest annual rise since 1992.

Fed officials, led by Chair Jerome Powell, have said repeatedly they expect price pressures to be transitory and monetary stimulus to stay in place for some time, but investors are wary that a strong pandemic recovery could force the Fed’s hand.

The euro was steady at $1.2223, reacting little to data which showed euro zone inflation surged past the European Central Bank’s target in May.

“I don’t think markets are paying too much attention to any overshoot in inflation at the moment,” said Simon Harvey, FX analyst at Monex Europe.

“The next quarter’s worth of inflation data is completely riddled with base effects and other temporary factors, so it’s very hard for markets and policymakers to strip out the signal from that noise.”

“Instead they’re looking towards things like commodity markets, like labour markets, and wage pressures and so forth, and the dislocation in those markets between demand and supply.”

Commodity currencies were generally stronger versus the dollar, as oil prices rose on expectations for growing fuel demand.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies – known as OPEC+ – is likely to stick to the existing pace of gradually easing oil supply curbs when it meets on Tuesday, OPEC sources said.

The Australian dollar was up around 0.1% at 0.7738 at 1138 GMT.

Australia’s central bank left its cash rate at record lows and reiterated its lower-for-longer policy stance, even as data showed the country’s output was above its pre-pandemic level.

The Norwegian crown was up 0.6% against the dollar at 8.2545.

The New Zealand dollar was down 0.2% at 0.7263. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand surprised markets last week by hinting at a future interest rate hike.

China’s yuan was steady after authorities ordered banks to increase their foreign exchange reserve ratio, a move seen as an attempt to limit the fast yuan appreciation.

The offshore yuan was at 6.3831, down 0.1% on the day, having crossed the key psychological 6.40 level last week and touched a new three-year high of 6.3524 on Monday.

Analysts said that although the central bank’s move – which is expected to withdraw just $20 billion worth of liquidity from the system – would slow the pace of the yuan’s strengthening versus the dollar, it was unlikely to stop it completely.

Britain’s pound hit a three-year high of $1.425 during the Asian session, helped by remarks from a Bank of England policymaker last week pointing to a rate hike next year or sooner.

The Canadian dollar was close to a six-year high versus the U.S. dollar, up 0.3% at 1.2036, having strengthened for four months in a row as the outlook for the domestic economy improved.

The U.S. ISM manufacturing survey is due at 1400 GMT, while the U.S. jobs report for May is due on Friday.

“We don’t expect data this week to materially change market expectations about the Fed’s policy stance, and the dollar’s momentum may stay soft on the back of a still negative real rate narrative,” wrote ING FX strategists in a note to clients.

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