Dollar slips, yuan steadies after central bank moves to limit gains
LONDON, (Reuters) – The dollar hovered near five-month lows on Tuesday as investors waited for euro zone inflation data and a U.S. manufacturing survey, while the yuan steadied after China’s central bank took steps to limit its appreciation.
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. The gauge sank 0.3% on Monday in a market thinned by U.S. and British holidays.
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.
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.
But the Australian dollar was still up around 0.5% versus the U.S. dollar at 0739 GMT, at 0.77625.
The New Zealand dollar was up 0.1% at 0.72845. 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 holdings, a move seen as an attempt to limit the fast yuan appreciation.
The offshore yuan was at 6.3726, flat 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.
“Fundamental pressures that have encouraged a stronger renminbi over the past year remain in place,” wrote MUFG currency analyst Lee Hardman in a note to clients.
“The measures will not prevent global investors from easily obtaining cheap foreign exchange overseas and being able to continue investing in higher yielding renminbi bonds.”
“The loose policy approach of other major central banks including the Fed is expected to keep upward pressure on the renminbi,” he added.
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.
At 0740 GMT, it was up 0.1% on the day at $1.42315.
The Canadian dollar was close to a six-year high, up 0.3%, having strengthened for four months in a row as the outlook for the domestic economy improved.
As currency traders weigh up the prospects for central bank tightening, focus in the near-term is on euro zone HICP inflation data for May, due at 0900 GMT.
The U.S. ISM manufacturing survey due at 1400 GMT will also be closely watched.
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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