Dollar off to firm start as U.S. price data fail to quell inflation worries

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar held firm on Monday after slightly softer-than-expected U.S. inflation did little to chip away investors’ conviction that the Federal Reserve could tighten monetary policy if consumer price pressures continue to intensify.

The dollar’s index against six other major currencies was steady at 91.793, having recovered from Friday’s low of 91.524 hit in the wake of the inflation readings.

The euro was little changed at $1.19385, struggling to recover the $1.20 level while the dollar consolidated at 110.80 yen, not far from Wednesday’s 15-month high of 110.105.

The U.S. personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, excluding the volatile food and energy components, increased 0.5% after advancing 0.7% in April.

In the 12 months through May, the so-called core PCE price index, the Fed’s favourite gauge of inflation, shot up 3.4%, the largest gain since April 1992.

Although inflation is expected to slow towards the year-end, signs of a tight labour market kept many investors fretting over wage-driven price pressures.

Among a raft of economic indicators due this week, Friday’s payroll data is a key focus, with economists expecting an increase of 675,000 nonfarm payrolls.

“Depending on the outcome of the payroll’s data, the market could start pricing in more chances of a rate hike next year,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities.

December 2022 Fed funds rates futures are almost fully pricing in a 0.25 percentage point rate hike by the end of next year.

The general mood around an ongoing economic recovery remained solid, as Republican Senate negotiators on an infrastructure deal were optimistic about a $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill after President Joe Biden withdrew his threat to veto the measure unless a separate Democratic spending plan also passes Congress.

Cryptocurrencies bounced back from their weekend lows but ended the week lower.

Bitcoin traded at $32,820, having declined 3.1% last week.

Ether fetched $1,831, not far from Tuesday’s three-month low of $1,700, and registering its third straight week of loss.

Britain’s financial regulator said last week that Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, cannot conduct any regulated activity and issued a warning to consumers about the platform.

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)


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