Dollar waits on inflation data, oil lifts petrocurrencies

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar was little changed against the euro and yen on Tuesday ahead of U.S. inflation data, while the main petrocurrencies got a lift as oil prices began climbing again and China reported reassuring export numbers.

FILE PHOTO: An employee of the Korea Exchange Bank counts one hundred U.S. dollar notes during a photo opportunity at the bank’s headquarters in Seoul April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

The possibility of U.S. stimulus withdrawal – brought to the fore by a surprise shift in tone last month from the Federal Reserve – has boosted the dollar in recent weeks despite a renewed rise in coronavirus cases in many parts of the world.

With U.S. consumer price inflation later likely to feed the debate, the greenback was fractionally firmer against the euro at $1.1856 after a more than 2% rise versus the common currency over the last month.

Economists polled by Reuters expect the June CPI data due at 1230 GMT to show a 0.5% rise from May and 4.9% from a year earlier. Dealers reckon a miss on either side could move the dollar and the bond market by shifting expectations on interest rates.

Analysts at JPMorgan said central banks around the world are becoming increasingly hawkish at the moment with a few notable exceptions – the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and People’s Bank of China, which made an dovish adjustment on Friday.

“Monetary policy divergence remains a tradable theme both in G10 and EM,” JPMorgan’s analysts said. “In the portfolio, we stay long USD vs euro, yen, Swiss franc; overweight Czech crown vs Romanian leu and overweight Brazilian real, Mexican peso vs Colombian and Chilean pesos.”

Top European Central Bank policymakers, including both its President and Vice President, flagged on Monday that the bank would stay supportive and is readying new “forward guidance” for its policy meeting next week to take into account a newly tweaked 2% inflation target.

“We expect another firm (U.S.) CPI in both the core and headline,” RBC’s Global Head of FX Strategy Elsa Lignos said.

She said it might mark a high point for the figures. “However, we are less interested in when the peak is and much more interested in how enduring price pressures are likely to be.”

Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone, said a headline CPI number below 4.5% should see USD/JPY and USD/CHF come under some pressure, while Brown Brothers Harriman pointed out that if core inflation picked up to 4.0% y/y, as expected, it would be the highest such reading since December 1991.

“We believe that the continued low rate environment will give the Fed more confidence to taper,” BBH’s analysts said.

CHINA

In early afternoon London trading, the Japanese yen stood at 110.26 per dollar having moved little more than ten pips all morning. The Swiss franc was a touch lower at 0.9166 per dollar but still close to a one-month high.

Rising oil lifted Norway’s crown, Canada’s dollar and the Russian rouble between 0.3% and 0.7%, while escalating violence over the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma sent South Africa’s rand tumbling 1%.

Sterling sagged 0.3% to $1.3847 as COVID cases surged ahead of England’s plans to remove all remaining restrictions.

“It is an experiment and we have to wait to see if it is successful,” said TD Securities’ European Head of Currency Strategy Ned Rumpeltin, adding there was “a certain degree of cautious scepticism” about the move.

China’s yuan rose to a near one-week high after surprisingly strong trade data eased fears about a slowdown in what has been one of the world’s strongest economic recoveries.

Exports in dollar terms rose 32.2% in June from a year earlier, compared with 27.9% growth in May. The analysts polled by Reuters had forecasted a 23.1% increase.

“Exports surprised on the upside in June, shrugging off the impact of the temporary Shenzhen port closure and other supply chain bottlenecks,” said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics.

Beyond U.S. inflation numbers later, further tests loom for the dollar with officials Neel Kashkari, Raphael Bostic and Eric Rosengren making appearances on Tuesday. [FED/DIARY]

Traders are also looking to Fed head Jerome Powell testifying before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday and to New Zealand on Wednesday, where the central bank meets for the first time since a strong business survey prompted swaps markets to price in rate hikes beginning as soon as November.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is not expected to change policy or publish forecasts, but a guidance tweak is possible.

“The narrative should endorse current market pricing,” Westpac analyst Imre Speizer said in a note, a move which he said could give the kiwi a slight lift.

The New Zealand dollar was down 0.1% at $0.6973, just below its 20-day moving average. [NZD/]

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