U.S. dollar rises against most currencies ahead of Fed minutes

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar gained against most major currencies as nagging concerns about the global economy forced investors to seek safety in the greenback ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve’s July meeting minutes later on Wednesday.

A man counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon March 23, 2021. Picture taken March 23, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Sterling and the commodity-exposed Australian AUD=D3 and New Zealand dollars all hovered near recent lows against the dollar as the broad market mood remained cautious.

“We have a lot of macro risks at the moment surrounding markets,” said Simon Harvey, senior FX market analyst at Monex Europe in London. “We have the risk of a slowing Chinese economy, rising Delta cases in the Asia-Pacific region, and slower growth generally.”

In the United States, U.S. housing starts dropped 7.0% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.534 million units last month.

The dollar index, though, was flat to slightly lower at 93.084, just below an early April high of 93.20 hit last week.

“The dollar’s move higher yesterday was quite aggressive and you saw key currencies like euro/dollar trade down to strong support levels and recent lows. So you would expect some sort of retracement that we’re seeing today,” Harvey said.

The euro was last little changed versus the dollar at $1.1712.

Against the yen, the dollar rose 0.2% to 109.805.

Even the New Zealand dollar, which briefly rose after the central bank set out a hawkish outlook for interest rates, swooned as a mild wave of risk aversion swept through markets.

The Kiwi was down 0.5% at $0.6888, having risen earlier to $0.6952 after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it would keep rates at 0.25%, after the country was put into a snap COVID-19 lockdown.

The Fed is due to release the minutes of its July 27-28 meeting at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) and they are likely to provide an insight into the U.S. central bank’s debate over when to end its pandemic-era emergency programs.

A monthly fund manager survey by investment bank BoFA Securities, meanwhile, showed that investors flipped to a net overweight on the dollar for the first time in nearly a year.

That shift in positioning was evident in more high-frequency weekly data as well with hedge funds ramping up their net long bets on the greenback to the most since March 2020.

While the dollar failed to draw any sustained strength from Fed Chair’s Jerome Powell’s comments and mixed U.S. data, markets shifted focus towards the annual Jackson Hole symposium next week where some expect the Fed to signal a change in direction with regards to its asset purchase plans.

Elsewhere, the Canadian dollar hovered near a one-month low. It was last at $1.2622.[CAD/]

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin traded up 1.4% at $45,337, not far from Saturday’s three-month high of $48,190. Ether stood at $3,064 ETH=BTSP, up 1.7%.

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