Dollar drops to three-week lows after inflation data

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar fell to three-week lows on Tuesday after data showed inflation making strong gains in March, though the rise was not expected to alter the Federal Reserve’s commitment to keeping interest rates at rock-bottom levels for years to come.

FILE PHOTO: Sheets of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on the five-dollar bill currency are seen through a magnifying glass at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo

The consumer price index jumped 0.6% last month, the largest gain since August 2012, after rising 0.4% in February, the Labor Department said on Tuesday. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI rose 0.3%. The so-called core CPI nudged up 0.1% in February.

The dollar briefly spiked on the data, before reversing course and dipping to three-week lows.

“It keeps unchanged the outlook of the Fed to stay the low rate course over the foreseeable future,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington. “We’re likely to see inflation move higher, before it eventually moves lower. So far the economy is sticking to the Fed’s script.”

Inflation is expected to show extra bullish comparisons to last year in the coming months due to a drop in price pressures in 2020 when businesses closed due to the spread of COVID-19.

The U.S. central bank has said it will look through temporary increases in inflation, and analysts expect it will allow inflation to run hotter than previously expected before raising rates.

Philadelphia Fed Bank President Patrick Harker said on Tuesday it is unlikely that inflation will run out of control this year.

The next major U.S. economic release will be retail sales data for March on Thursday.

The dollar index fell as low as 91.85, the lowest level since March 23.

The greenback also fell to session lows as Treasury yields fell, following a strong 30-year bond auction, the final sale of coupon-bearing supply this week. [US/]

The euro gained 0.28% to $1.1945. The greenback fell 0.30% to 109.10 Japanese yen.

The British pound was little changed on the day at $1.3748 after the Bank of England said its chief economist would leave the central bank later this year.

The Australian dollar, which is a proxy for global risk appetite, gained 0.29% to $0.7643.

The New Zealand dollar gained 0.34% to $0.7051. The country’s central bank is expected on Wednesday to leave interest rates and its quantitative easing program unchanged.

The Russian rouble extended gains in late trade on Tuesday after reports that U.S. President Joe Biden had a phone conversation with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as the market kept a close watch on geopolitical tensions between Moscow and the West.

Bitcoin hit a record $63,769, extending its 2021 rally to new heights a day before the listing of shares in crytpocurrency platform Coinbase in the United States.

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