The dollar edged lower in early European trade Wednesday, handing back some of the previous session’s sharp gains after a jump in U.S. inflation raised expectations of an early move by the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy.
At 2:55 AM ET (0755 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, traded 0.1% lower at 92.698, falling back from the previous session’s high of 92.832, just below the three-month peak of 92.844 reached last week.
U.S. consumer prices rose by 0.9% in June, the most in 13 years, with the year-on-year figure soaring 5.4% as the economic recovery gathered momentum.
“While everyone expected price pressures to increase, [this] report illustrates how significant the problem has become. Not only are prices rising sharply, but the increases are more widespread, which means prices can remain high for longer,” said Kathy Lien, an analyst at BK Asset Management, in a note.
This puts the spotlight firmly on Fed chair Jerome Powell as he testifies before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday, with the market looking for any signals on the timing of a tapering of stimulus and higher interest rates.
Elsewhere, GBP/USD rose 0.2% to 1.3837 after U.K. consumer prices climbed 2.5% on the year in June, the biggest rise since August 2018 and the second month in a row that inflation has surprised to the upside.
While this will increase the pressure on the Bank of England to act, the data also showed factory gate prices rising more slowly, suggesting that the impact of the sharp commodity price rises is fading.
NZD/USD soared 1.2% to 0.7026 after New Zealand’s central bank ended its NZ$100 billion bond-buying program, effectively signaling that an interest rate hike was just around the corner.
The country’s economy has been less affected by the Covid-19 pandemic than many, growing 1.6% in the first quarter, raising concerns that the stimulative monetary policies could lead to overheating.
There are more central bank meetings due Wednesday. The Bank of Canada is widely expected to announce further asset tapering, while Turkey’s central bank is likely to keep interest rates unchanged for the fourth consecutive month given a weak currency and rising prices.
Also, USD/ZAR fell 0.2% to 14.6922, with the rand bouncing slightly after falling almost 3% over the last week in the wake of the violence that erupted following the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma.