Asia FX drifts lower, dollar weakens as inflation data looms

Asia FX drifts lower, dollar weakens as inflation data looms

The Chinese yuan fell 0.1%, and remained close to breaching the 7 level as focus also turned to Chinese trade and inflation indicators this week. Markets are watching for any more cues on a Chinese economic recovery, after business activity readings for April pointed to a slowing rebound.

Analysts also expect weakness in Chinese imports and inflation to have persisted in April, pointing to a sluggish recovery even as the country relaxed most anti-COVID restrictions earlier this year.

The rate-sensitive South Korean won fell 0.2%, as did the Taiwan dollar. The Japanese yen rose 0.1%, buoyed by some safe haven demand. Data also showed that Japanese service sector activity grew at a record pace in April, pointing to some resilience in Asia’s second-largest economy.

The Australian dollar was among the fed outliers for the day, rising 0.4% as a private survey showed that Australian business conditions remained sturdy in April.

Most Asian currencies had retreated sharply after data on Friday showed that U.S. nonfarm payrolls blew past expectations in April. The reading indicates that the labor market was running hot despite rising interest rates, and is likely to keep U.S. inflation elevated, which could see the Fed keep interest rates higher for longer.

But markets are largely pricing in the possibility that U.S. interest rates have peaked, with Fed Fund futures prices pointing to a 90% probability that the Fed will hold rates in June.

The dollar retreated on this notion, with the dollar index and dollar index futures falling about 0.1% each on Monday. Both instruments were also close to their weakest levels in a year.

Focus this week is squarely on U.S. consumer price index inflation data, due on Wednesday. The reading is expected to show that while inflation eased slightly in April, it still remained well above the Fed’s 2% annual target range.

Markets are also awaiting more cues on a brewing U.S. banking crisis, with a Fed survey of U.S. loan activity due later in the day.

Fears of a banking crisis, which could in turn spur a recession this year, weighed heavily on the dollar in recent sessions as traders sought traditional safe havens such as gold and the yen.

Asian currencies were also battered by these fears, given their heavy risk exposure.

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