Dollar set for weekly loss as crucial US jobs data looms
By Kevin Buckland
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar was on course to snap a six-week winning streak against major peers on Friday, as it headed into a pivotal monthly U.S. jobs report that is likely to inform the path for Federal Reserve policy over coming months.
The U.S. currency dipped to a one-week low against the yen, weighed down by slumping Treasury yields, after a volatile week when overall soft economic data tempered the outlook for further Fed rate hikes.
However, the greenback held on to gains made against the euro and sterling overnight after policymakers at the respective central banks struck more dovish postures ahead of policy meetings this month.
Elsewhere, the Chinese yuan strengthened after the nation’s central bank cut forex reserve requirements for the first time in a year.
The U.S. dollar index – which measures the currency against a basket of six developed-market peers, including the euro, sterling and yen – edged 0.05% lower to 103.58 on Friday, bringing declines this week to 0.53%.
A parade of employment and inflation data has paved the way to the nonfarm payrolls report later in the global day, and much of it has been on the weaker side, leading traders to pare bets for a rate hike on Sept. 20 to 12% from 18% a week ago, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
Two-year Treasury yields, which are particularly sensitive to rate expectations, have declined about 20 basis points this week to 4.86%, the biggest slide since mid-March.
That has helped push the dollar down against the yen. It slipped 0.08% to 145.405 yen on Friday, putting its loss for the week at 0.7%.
The dollar made up some ground on the euro overnight though. The single currency was little changed at $1.08455 following a 0.74% tumble on Thursday that pared its weekly advance to 0.49%.
Euro-area data on Thursday showed core inflation fell in August. Expectations for an “upside surprise” had been building after German inflation outpaced forecasts in a reading on Wednesday, said Ray Attrill, head of foreign-exchange strategy at National Australia Bank.
“There’s a little bit of relief there, (which) had an impact in just dampening expectations for a September ECB hike,” he said. “That’s basically what took the bite out of the euro.”
Also on Thursday, Bank of England chief economist Huw Pill highlighted the risk that policy tightening will hurt Britain’s economy, even as he said the central bank will “see the job through” on bringing inflation back to target.
“Pill’s comments appear consistent with another quarter-point turn of the screw on 21 September, but not necessarily thereafter,” Attrill said.
In Asia, the early focus turned to the yuan, which jumped to the highest since Aug. 11 at 7.2392 per dollar in offshore trading, before paring some of those gains. The dollar was last 0.25% weaker at 7.2574 yuan.
The People’s Bank of China said it would cut the foreign exchange reserve requirement ratio (RRR) by 200 basis points to 4% beginning Sept. 15, according to an online statement, as it expanded efforts to shore up its embattled currency, which sank to an 11-month trough at 7.3426 in mid-August.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin unwound all of its gains for the week, last trading at $26,021 after dropping 5% overnight as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) delayed a decision on whether to approve several applications for spot bitcoin ETFs.
Bitcoin had jumped as high as $28,142 on Tuesday after a U.S. court ruled that the SEC was wrong to reject an application from Grayscale Investments to create such an ETF, which would be the first of its kind.
(Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)