Dollar flat ahead of key inflation release; Middle East tensions ease

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Dollar flat ahead of key inflation release; Middle East tensions ease
Credit: © Reuters.

Investing.com - The U.S. dollar traded largely unchanged in calm trading Monday, amid a calming of tensions in the Middle East and ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve’s favorite gauge of inflation later in the week.

At 05:40 ET (09:40 GMT), the Dollar Index , which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, traded flat at 106.005, retreating from the five-month peak of 106.51 seen last week. 

Dollar stable ahead of key inflation release

The dollar surged to new highs last week after Israel launched a missile attack on Iran, in an escalation of the conflict in the volatile Middle East.

However, tensions appear to have been cooled, with Tehran downplaying Israel's retaliatory drone strike against Iran, in what appeared to be a move aimed at averting a regional war.

"Sentiment is generally supported across asset classes as the week starts,” said analysts at ING, in a note. “All interested parties appear to have chosen the path of downplaying the size and consequences of Friday’s Israeli strikes in Iran.”

That said, the dollar has also been supported by strong U.S. economic data and persistent inflation, coupled with a slew of hawkish comments from Fed officials, reducing the chances of the Federal Reserve cutting rates any time soon. 

These officials will be keeping quiet this week, ahead of next week’s policy-setting meeting , but activity is likely to be limited ahead of Friday’s look at the personal consumption expenditures price index , the Federal Reserve’s favored inflation gauge, which economists expect to remain elevated in March.

Other economic data for the week includes an initial estimate of first quarter GDP , which is expected to have moderated slightly from the previous quarter. Data on new home sales and initial jobless claims will also be released along with revised figures on consumer sentiment and inflation expectations.

Euro edges up, but ECB set to cut early

In Europe, EUR/USD rose 0.1% to 1.0656, trading near six-month lows with regional economic weakness set to result in the European Central Bank cutting interest rates before the Federal Reserve.

Elevated tensions in the Middle East are unlikely to drive up energy prices and should not affect the European Central Bank's plans to start cutting interest rates in June, French central bank chief Francois Villeroy de Galhau said on Sunday.

"Barring surprises, there is no need to wait much longer", Villeroy told business daily Les Echos in an interview. "At the moment, the conflict is not leading to a marked rise in oil prices. If this were ever the case, we would have to analyse monetary policy for whether this shock is temporary and limited, or whether it is transmitted - beyond commodities - to underlying inflation.”

GBP/USD climbed 0.1% lower to 1.2355, just above its lowest level since mid-November seen on Friday, after Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden alluded last week to Britain's inflation slowing as expected. 

“Sterling markets moved on Friday after the Bank of England's deputy governor, Dave Ramsden, sounded less concerned about price pressures and suggested that there were indications of UK inflation converging to that of the eurozone,” ING said. “Crucially, he added that the Bank will be “responsive” as evidence on inflation accumulates.”

Yen weak ahead of BOJ meeting

In Asia, USD/JPY traded 0.1% higher at 154.74, remaining well above the 154 level and near 34-year highs, keeping investors on guard over any potential government intervention. 

Focus this week is on a Bank of Japan rate decision on Friday - the central bank’s first meeting after a historic rate hike in March. Any cues on future rate hikes and policy changes will be closely watched.

USD/CNY edged 0.1% higher to 7.2437, after the People’s Bank of China kept its benchmark loan prime rate on hold, as expected. 

The LPR was kept at record lows, as the PBOC moved to keep monetary policy as loose as possible to buoy economic growth. However, low interest rates are also expected to keep the yuan under pressure. 

The USDCNY pair was close to a five-month high, above the psychologically important 7.2 level. 

 

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