By Gina Lee
Investing.com – The dollar was up on Thursday morning in Asia, hitting multi-week highs. The safe-haven U.S. currency got a boost after U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell hinted at imminent interest hikes.
The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies was up 0.25% to 96.645 by 10:49 PM ET (3:49 AM GMT).
The USD/JPY pair inched up 0.04% to 114.68.
The AUD/USD pair fell 0.51% to 0.7078 and the NZD/USD pair fell 0.65% to 0.6608. Data released earlier in the day showed that New Zealand’s consumer price index grew 1.4% quarter-on-quarter and 5.9% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The Fed left its interest rate unchanged at 0.25% as it handed down its latest policy decision on Wednesday. However, Powell signaled a sustained battle to curb high inflation, saying there was "quite a bit of room to raise interest rates without threatening the labor market" and that the Fed would likely begin hiking interest rates in March 2022.
The dollar gained 0.7% against the safe-haven yen after Powell's remarks, its steepest daily jump in more than two months. The prospect of imminent interest rate hikes unnerved stock markets and saw bond yields climb.
"While communication from Fed members in the lead-up to this meeting meant that the pivot should not have been a surprise, risk appetite shriveled as Powell's press conference progressed and the extent of the Fed's commitment to act in the face of significant inflation pressure became clear," ANZ analysts said in a note.
In other data from Asia Pacific, Chinese industrial profit growth slowed to 4.2% year-on-year in December 2021. Investors now await U.S. data, including GDP and core durable goods orders , due later in the day.
Meanwhile, the pound tested support as the following week’s Bank of England policy decision looms and the political turmoil over U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s breaking of COVID-19 lockdown rules.
Cryptocurrencies mostly held their ground after the Fed policy decision after taking a tumble during the previous week. However, bitcoin saw some pressure early in the Asia session, last trading nearly 2% down at $36,100.
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