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Asia FX muted as dollar firms ahead of Fed meeting; yen weakens

Published 05/01/2024, 11:46 AM
© Reuters

Investing.com-- Most Asian currencies kept to a tight range on Wednesday, while the dollar came close to a six-month high as anticipation of a Federal Reserve meeting kept traders largely biased towards the greenback.

This saw the Japanese yen weaken even after suspected government intervention sparked a sharp rebound in the currency earlier this week. 

A slew of regional holidays in Asia, for Labor Day, also kept most regional currencies treading water. 

Dollar near six-month high as rate fears mount before Fed meeting 

The dollar index and dollar index futures rose 0.2% in Asian trade, extending overnight gains as markets awaited the conclusion of a two-day Fed meeting later on Wednesday. 

The Fed is widely expected to keep rates on hold. But Fed Chair Jerome Powell is likely to offer a hawkish outlook on rates, especially following a slew of hotter-than-expected inflation readings.

A higher-than-expected reading on the first quarter employment cost index added to concerns over sticky inflation, and was a key driver of the dollar’s gains on Tuesday. 

The Fed is now expected to begin cutting interest rates only by September, if at all, this year. Powell is also expected to provide more cues on the path of rates. 

Japanese yen weakens, USDJPY advances despite suspected intervention 

The USDJPY pair, which gauges the amount of yen required to buy one dollar, rose slightly on Wednesday after clocking sharp gains in overnight trade. The pair hovered close to 158, having seen limited weakness after suspected intervention by the Japanese government earlier this week.

The USDJPY pair had fallen as far as 155 on Monday, before bouncing back on Tuesday as markets remained unconvinced over the Bank of Japan’s outlook for higher inflation. 

The biggest point of pressure on the yen continued to be the prospect of higher-for-longer U.S. rates and a stronger dollar. 

Other Asian currencies were muted, amid a mix of labor day holidays and caution before the Fed. The Australian dollar’s AUDUSD pair fell slightly, as dollar pressure outweighed growing speculation over more potential interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia. 

The RBA is set to meet next week, and could potentially offer up a hawkish stance following a stronger-than-expected inflation reading for the first quarter. 

The Indian rupee’s USDINR pair rose 0.1% and was close to record highs, with volatility in the rupee set to continue amid the 2024 general elections. 

The Chinese yuan’s offshore pair- USDCNH- fell slightly amid some hopes for more stimulus measures in the country. 

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