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Dollar Pares Losses Despite Fed Signaling Pause Will Continue

2/21/2019, 4:06:54 PMMarket Analysis
Dollar Pares Losses Despite Fed Signaling Pause Will Continue

The U.S. dollar pared some losses against a basket of major currencies Wednesday, even as the minutes from the Federal Reserve strengthened expectations the central bank will leave interest rates on hold this year.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, fell 0.07% to 96.28, but remained above session lows of 96.12.

Federal Reserve policymakers expressed a willingness to end its balance sheet unwinding program later this year and keep rate hikes on hold to get a better sense of the health of U.S. economy and the extent of deteriorating global growth, minutes published Wednesday showed.

"Almost all participants thought that it would be desirable to announce before too long a plan to stop reducing the Federal Reserve’s asset holdings later this year," the minutes showed.

The Fed has been allowing as much as $50 billion a month of maturing securities to roll off its balance sheet, which peaked at roughly $4.5 trillion in Jan. 2015, but has now narrowed to about $4 trillion.

In the run-up to the minutes, the dollar was kept in the red by a stronger pound, but gains were short lived as political turmoil in the U.K. and growing skepticism on the prospect of a breakthrough in Brexit talks weighed.

USD/GBP fell 0.01% to $1.3062.

U.K Prime Minister Theresa May was set to renew talks with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday as she seeks changes to the Irish backstop included in the withdrawal agreement, which was voted down in the UK parliament last month.

Without the changes needed to get the withdrawal deal through parliament before the March 29 deadline, Britain risks crashing out of the EU without a deal, which many say could usher in an era of stagnant economic growth or recession.

Ahead of the talks, three lawmakers defected from the prime minister's ruling Conservative party seemingly over a lack of faith in May's ability to get any meaningful concession from eurocrats.

EUR/USD rose 0.11% to $1.1353.

USD/JPY rose 0.17% to Y110.80 and USD/CAD fell 0.36% to C$1.3158 as the latter pair was weighed down by rise in the loonie thanks to gains in oil prices.