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Dollar firms after U.S. labor data suggests more rate hikes

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd
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By Herbert Lash and Joice Alves

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar strengthened on Thursday after unemployment claims pointed to a still strong U.S. jobs market and other data showed growing labor costs, indicating the Federal Reserve has further to go in raising interest rates to tame inflation.

The yield on two-year Treasury notes, which are sensitive to interest rate expectations, shot to levels last seen in July 2007 as the market perceives the Fed will raise rates further to curb rising consumer prices.

“This move higher that you’re seeing in U.S. rates is not happening in isolation,” said Alvise Marino, macro trading strategist at Credit Suisse in New York.

“Similar developments are happening in the rest of the world, in particular in Europe, mostly notably, where the inflation data keeps on surprising relatively strong,” he said.

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said on Thursday that the U.S. central bank was ready to keep lifting rates higher if inflation doesn’t slow and was still mulling how recent, stronger-than-anticipated inflation data might shape Fed policy.

The impact of higher rates on the economy may only begin to “bite” in earnest this spring, an argument for the Fed to stick with “steady” quarter-point rate increases, Bostic said.

“There’s more and more of a concern that incoming data is revealing that the Fed might be a little bit behind the curve than maybe they expected heading into this year,” said Bipan Rai, North America head of FX strategy at CIBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

Futures edged higher, with the market pricing a peak rate climbing to 5.493% in the fed funds by September, before easing a bit later in the session to 5.447%.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment fell again last week, pointing to a still strong jobs market. Another Labor Department report showed labor costs grew much faster than previously estimated in the fourth quarter.

Graphic: US jobs https://www.reuters.com/graphics/GLOBAL-MARKETS/THEMES/znpnbxnkepl/US_jobs.jpg


The euro slid on data that showed inflation in the euro zone was not as high as investors had feared but remains elevated. Inflation eased to 8.5% from 8.6% in January on lower energy prices.

The dollar index, a basket of major trading currencies, rose 0.623%, while the euro fell 0.71% to $1.0589.

The market’s reaction to the euro zone data was muted at first following the euro’s 0.9% rise against the dollar on Wednesday, its biggest daily gain in a month, after data showed prices in Germany rose more than hoped last month.

Investors now see the ECB’s 2.5% deposit rate rising by a combined 100 basis points in March and May, then to around 4.1% at the turn of the year. Markets have priced in an extra 50 basis points of hikes in just the past month.

Policymakers were split in February on the type of signal they should send about the ECB’s next rate move, accounts of the central bank’s meeting on Feb. 2 showed on Thursday.

Sterling was held back by remarks from Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, who said “nothing is decided” on future rate increases, which led traders to trim bets on higher rates. Sterling traded at $1.194, down 0.76% on the day.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.44%, while the Australian and New Zealand dollars moved lower after strong gains on Wednesday driven by Chinese manufacturing data.

The offshore Chinese yuan rose 0.70% to $6.9265 per dollar.

Investors are looking ahead to China’s National People’s Congress meeting, which begins on Sunday, for guidance on policy support for the post-COVID recovery.

Bitcoin fell 0.81% to $23,442.00 after shares of Silvergate Capital Corp fell more than half when the crypto-focused bank delayed its annual report and said it had sold additional debt securities.

Currency bid prices at 3:24 p.m. (2024 GMT)

Description RIC Last U.S. Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Clos Change






Dollar index 104.9700 104. +0.58% 1.430% +105.1800 +104.3300


Euro/Dollar $1.0597 $1.0 -0.68% -1.10% +$1.0672 +$1.0577


Dollar/Yen 136.7450 136. +0.38% +4.29% +137.0900 +136.0300


Euro/Yen 144.90 145. -0.27% +3.28% +145.5600 +144.7800


Dollar/Swiss 0.9415 0.93 +0.21% +1.84% +0.9439 +0.9395


Sterling/Dollar $1.1945 $1.2 -0.67% -1.23% +$1.2035 +$1.1924


Dollar/Canadian 1.3599 1.35 +0.05% +0.37% +1.3641 +1.3586


Aussie/Dollar $0.6731 $0.6 -0.41% -1.25% +$0.6766 +$0.6707


Euro/Swiss 0.9978 1.00 -0.44% +0.84% +1.0041 +0.9975


Euro/Sterling 0.8871 0.88 +0.08% +0.31% +0.8891 +0.8857


NZ $0.6220 $0.6 -0.57% -2.02% +$0.6257 +$0.6199

Dollar/Dollar 257

Dollar/Norway 10.4400 10.4 +0.32% +6.39% +10.4930 +10.3900


Euro/Norway 11.0618 11.0 +0.01% +5.41% +11.1216 +11.0599


Dollar/Sweden 10.5083 10.4 +0.13% +0.97% +10.5345 +10.4310


Euro/Sweden 11.1365 11.1 +0.13% -0.12% +11.1641 +11.1257



(Reporting by Herbert Lash, Reporting by Joice Alves in London, additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Nick Zieminski)