Dollar eases ahead of US inflation data, bitcoin stands firm

Dollar eases ahead of US inflation data, bitcoin stands firm

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar drifted lower on Thursday as traders waited for U.S. inflation data to confirm whether bets on as many as five Fed interest rate cuts this year were justified, while weak Japanese wages data sent the yen to a six-week low against the euro.

Bitcoin traded at $46,400, just shy of a two-year high, with investors welcoming the much-anticipated U.S. approval of spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds.

The approval opens the way for institutional buying and had been priced in over recent months, driving the cryptocurrency up 70% since mid-October.

The main event for the currency market on Thursday is monthly U.S. consumer inflation, which economists expected to have slowed again in December.

The dollar has slid in recent weeks, as investors have become increasingly convinced the Federal Reserve could start cutting rates as early as March – an expectation many in the market see as excessive.

“It’s a bit like an errant school child runs away with itself and gets carried away and needs to be reined in as the data comes out,” CMC Markets (LON:CMCX) chief markets strategist Michael Hewson said.

“For me, the market is thinking way too far ahead. Yes, rate cuts are coming, that is pretty much a given. But do I really think the Fed is going to cut rates in March, unless there is a problem in the banking sector or the commercial real estate sector in the United States? Then, they might be compelled to do something like that.”

The dollar index, which staged a robust rally last week, was last down 0.1%.


The futures market shows investors expect 140 basis points (bps) of cuts this year with a two-thirds chance they will begin as soon as March, leaving prices sensitive to data surprises.

“In our view investors are still too optimistically positioned for Fed rate cuts,” Rabobank senior FX strategist Jane Foley said in a note to clients.

“We expect further correction in this outlook and consequently expect the dollar to see some support on a 1-to-3-month view,” she said, with the euro to fall as far as $1.05 on a three-month view as Germany’s economy falters.

U.S. core inflation is seen at 0.3% for the month and 3.8% year-on-year for December, its slowest since early 2021.

After gaining sharply on Wednesday the dollar fell 0.25% to 145.39 yen, though the Japanese currency struck a six-week low of 160 per euro (EURJPY=EBS) overnight.

Data on Wednesday showed Japanese workers’ real wages shrank for a 20th straight month in November – confounding officials’ wishes to see wage gains before tightening policy.

In Europe, the euro rose 0.1% to $1.0978, while sterling rose 0.2% to $1.2764.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, addressing lawmakers on Wednesday, said he did not want to comment on the outlook for monetary policy “but let’s just take the market for a moment – obviously that is feeding through into mortgage costs and I hope that is something that continues.”

The softer dollar helped China’s yuan off a one-month trough to 7.1702 per dollar.

South Korea’s central bank kept interest rates unchanged for an eighth consecutive meeting, as expected, leaving the won marginally stronger at 1,315.8 per dollar.

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