© Reuters. A currency dealer counts U.S. dollars at his shop in Karachi October 8, 2008. REUTERS/Athar Hussain/Files
By Ankur Banerjee
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The dollar languished near four-month lows on Friday, weighed by growing prospects of U.S. interest rate cuts next year, while the euro and pound found support as the central banks there reiterated the need for rates to stay higher for longer.
In an action-packed week for central banks, traders found more clarity on when interest rate cuts were likely after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said at Wednesday’s meeting that the tightening of monetary policy is likely over, with a discussion of cuts coming “into view”.
The Fed’s projections implied 75 basis points of cuts next year, from the current level.
That has resulted in the greenback sliding broadly against rivals, with the at 102.05, not far from the four-month low of 101.76 it touched on Thursday. The index is down 1.9% and on course for its steepest weekly decline since July.
On Thursday, the European Central Bank and Bank of England pushed back against bets on imminent cuts to interest rates and reiterated their focus on the fight against inflation, helping lift the euro and pound.
The euro was at $1.0983, just shy of $1.1009, a two-week high it touched on Thursday. The single currency is up 2% this week, its largest rise in four weeks.
Sterling was last at $1.2752, down 0.11% on the day, having surged 1.1% and scaling a four-month peak of $1.2793 on Thursday.
Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone, said the aftermath of the central bank fest is that the market has brought forward the timing of cuts expected in 2024.
“We knew 2024 was a year of normalising policy, but the timing and the start date were a growing debate,” said Weston, adding that March is when markets expect to see most central banks to start easing their monetary policy.
Markets are now pricing in a 75% chance of a rate cut in March by the Fed, according to CME FedWatch tool. They are also pricing in 150 basis points in rate reductions by Dec. 2024.
The ECB have more scope than most to ease, according to Pepperstone’s Weston, given low growth and a rapid decline in inflation.
“However, the pushback from (ECB President) Lagarde and co suggests conjecture on the timing of initial easing – perhaps this is a function that its desirable to keep one’s currency strong to limit imported inflation.”
Meanwhile, the Japanese yen weakened 0.20% to 142.16 per dollar in Asian hours, having surged 0.7% and touching a four-and-a-half month high on Thursday ahead of the Bank of Japan’s meeting next week.
The Asian currency is up 2% this week and on course for its biggest weekly gain against the dollar since July.
Expectations of the BOJ to exit its ultra loose monetary policy have faded with the central bank likely to end the year as one of the world’s most dovish.
Market focus will be on any hints Governor Kazuo Ueda may offer at his post-meeting briefing on the timing of an exit from negative interest rates.
Elsewhere, the Australian dollar rose 0.06% to $0.670, while the New Zealand dollar eased 0.03% to $0.620.