Dollar Steadies as Traders Await Fed Minutes for Rate Clues

Dollar Steadies as Traders Await Fed Minutes for Rate Clues
U.S. one hundred dollar notes are seen in this picture illustration taken in Seoul on Feb. 7, 2011. (Lee Jae-won/Reuters)

SINGAPORE/LONDON—The dollar steadied on Wednesday as traders awaited minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting for further clues on the central bank’s rate outlook.

Data last week showed sticky U.S. inflation, prompting investors to push back bets the Fed would start cutting rates in March. Markets are now pricing in the first cut in June, compared with March at the start of the year.

Traders are now pricing in 94 basis points (bps) worth of easing by the Fed this year.

A slim majority of economists polled by Reuters expects the Fed to cut interest rates in June.

The minutes of the Fed’s latest policy meeting due later in the day will provide further clarity on the outlook for U.S. rates.

“The overarching FOMC minutes takeaway must be that it is not (yet) time to initiate a rate cut,” said Vishnu Varathan, chief economist for Asia ex-Japan at Mizuho Bank.

“At best, it will be inconclusive with data dependence caveats gaining prominence. At worst, irrelevant, given ex-post hot inflation and strong jobs data.”

The U.S. dollar index, measuring the currency against six peers, edged 0.1 percent higher to 104.17, after moving 0.25 percent lower on Tuesday on the back of a dip in global bond yields.

The euro also dropped 0.1 percent to $1.0795, ahead of an eurozone consumer confidence survey due later in the day.

Chris Turner, global head of markets at ING, said a mild improvement in the February numbers is expected.

“If there is a ray of light for the euro zone economy it may be that wage growth is not falling as quickly as inflation.”

Elsewhere, sterling fell 0.1 percent to $1.2604, and it was some distance away from Tuesday’s one-week high of $1.2668, having retreated from that level after comments from Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey.

Mr. Bailey said on Tuesday he was comfortable with investors betting on interest rate cuts this year, but pointed to signs that Britain’s economy was picking up after falling into recession in late 2023.

The Chinese yuan rebounded to a near three-week high, helped by some bounceback in its battered equity markets. It last stood at 7.1885 per dollar.

Its offshore counterpart rose to a three-week high, and was last up 0.1 percent at 7.1971 per dollar.

China on Tuesday announced its biggest cut in its benchmark mortgage rate to help prop up a struggling property market and the broader economy, though the move failed to draw much investor excitement as experts said more needs to be done.

By Rae Wee and Joice Alves