Dollar Extends Losses as Fed Says Rates Near Neutral
The dollar slipped on Thursday morning in Asia after the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Jerome Powell said interest rates are “just below neutral,” signaling a potential end of the bank’s cycle of rate hike.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, dropped 0.06% to 96.703.
Powell said on Wednesday that the Fed’s interest rate of 2 to 2.5% was just below the neutral level. As recently as October, however, Powell had said the rate was “a long way” from neutral.
“Powell’s comments were read as too hawkish back in October…to some extent his overnight comments have neutralized that. The question now is just how much more dovish markets can get in terms of rate hike expectations… Investors are now pricing in a December rate hike and only one more rate hike in 2019,” Rodrigo Catril, senior currency strategist at the National Australia Bank, told Reuters.
This comes after U.S. President Donald Trump told the Washington Post he is “not even a little bit happy” with his selection of Powell as chair of the Fed. He has repeatedly criticized Powell and the central bank’s decisions on interest rates.
Minutes from the Fed’s meeting earlier this month are set to be released on Thursday and are expected to provide some indication of future interest rate hikes.
Another area of focus for investors is the G20 summit in Buenos Aires starting on Friday, where Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet and discuss trade issues. Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday that “there’s a good possibility that we can make a deal, and he [Trump] is open to it.”
The USD/CNY pair traded 0.15% lower to 6.9433, while the USD/JPY pair also inched down 0.27% to 113.38.
GBP/USD edged up 0.05% despite British Security Minister Ben Wallace’s warning of a no-deal risk for Brexit.
Down under, the AUD/USD pair fell 0.04% and the NZD/USD pair also dropped 0.32%.