Asia FX dips, dollar steadies as Fed meeting looms

Asia FX dips, dollar steadies as Fed meeting looms

Investing.com — Most Asian currencies retreated on Tuesday, while the dollar firmed slightly as markets hunkered down ahead of a Federal Reserve interest rate decision this week, while lingering fears of a banking crisis also weighed on sentiment.

The South Korean won was the worst performer for the day, down 0.6% as soft inflation and trade data gave the Bank of Korea more impetus to keep interest rates on hold.

China’s yuan fell 0.1%, while the Thai baht led losses across Southeast Asian currencies with a 0.5% drop.

The Japanese yen rose 0.1% in holiday-thinned trade. But the currency was sitting on strong gains in recent sessions as fears of a U.S. and European banking crisis spurred safe haven demand.

While U.S. and European regulators rolled out liquidity measures to support the banking system, markets still remained on edge over the collapse of more banks, as the sector struggles with a sharp rise in interest rates.

The dollar saw limited safe haven demand as markets bet that the Federal Reserve could potentially soften its hawkish rhetoric to stem further pressure on the banking system. This also saw the greenback trade lower over the past week, as markets pivoted into traditional safe havens such as gold and other precious metals.

But the dollar index and dollar index futures rose about 0.1% each on Tuesday, ahead of the conclusion of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. The central bank is widely expected to raise rates by 25 basis points, given that U.S. inflation is still trending well above its target range.

The central bank’s outlook on monetary policy will also be closely watched in the face of a potential banking crisis. Other Asian currencies retreated amid this uncertainty, with the Indian rupee and Singapore dollar down 0.2% each.

The Australian dollar fell 0.4% after the minutes of the Reserve Bank’s March meeting showed that policymakers were considering an eventual pause in interest rate hikes, amid easing inflation and pressure on economic growth.

But the bank is likely to keep raising rates in the near-term, the minutes showed, with inflation only expected to reach the RBA’s target range by mid-2025.

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