FOREX-Dollar eases from 16-mth high as market seeks clues on Fed policy

TOKYO, Nov 15 (Reuters) – The dollar eased back from near an almost 16-month high versus major peers on Monday, as traders awaited fresh clues on the U.S. economy after bringing forward bets last week for a Federal Reserve interest rate hike on the back of red-hot inflation.

The dollar index, which measures the currency against six peers, eased 0.13% to 95.012 from Friday, when it posted its biggest weekly gain since mid-August and touched 95.266 for the first time since July 2020.

Investors will also be watching any comments coming out of a virtual summit between President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, set for Tuesday morning Beijing time and Monday evening in Washington, with relations between the world’s two largest economies strained over a range of issues.

Otherwise, the main event on the U.S. economic calendar this week will be Tuesday’s retail sales data, particularly after a survey on Friday showed consumer confidence unexpectedly plunged to a decade low in early November as high inflation hit sentiment.

“It will be important to watch what still cashed-up U.S. consumers do rather than what they say,” as readings of sentiment were at odds with actual spending during the summer, Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank in Sydney, wrote in a client note.

The dollar had been on a tear since Wednesday, when data showed a broad-based rise in U.S. consumer prices last month at the fastest annual pace since 1990, casting doubts on the Fed’s stance that price pressure will be transitory.

Money markets were pricing a first rate increase by July and a high likelihood of another by November next year as of the end of last week.

The dollar index “has shifted into higher gears” following Wednesday’s “blowout” inflation reading, with Fed stimulus tapering, President Joe Biden’s infrastructure spending and a tightening labor market also providing a dollar-supportive backdrop, Westpac strategists wrote in a research note.

“Retail sales this week are likely firm as the economy consigns the Delta-driven soft patch to the rear view mirror,” making any dips in the dollar index into the mid-93 level a buying opportunity, they said.

Gains in the heavily euro-weighted dollar index have also been helped by a droop in the single currency, with the European Central Bank appearing unlikely to change its extremely dovish policy settings in the near term against the backdrop of a slowing economy.

The euro added 0.13% to $1.1457, but still within sight of Friday’s 16-month low of $1.1433.

Later on Monday, ECB president Christine Lagarde will speak before the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament.

The dollar slipped 0.06% to 113.845 yen, consolidating around 114 since Wednesday.

Data on Monday showed Japan’s economy shrunk much faster than economists predicted in the third quarter as supply disruptions hit exports and business spending plans.

Sterling rose 0.18% to $1.34355, continuing a recovery from this year’s low of $1.3354, marked on Friday.

The risk-sensitive Australian dollar rose 0.18% to$0.743, supported by better-than-expected Chinese retail sales and industrial output readings on Monday.

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