By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar hit its lowest levels in more than seven weeks against the euro, yen and Swiss franc on Tuesday a day after dovish comments from a top Federal Reserve official, but pared losses after remarks from the head of the New York Fed raised expectations for a rate hike this year.
The dollar hit its lowest levels against those three currencies since June 24, or the day after Britain voted to exit the European Union, which caused tumult in global markets.
The euro rose more than one percent against the dollar to a session high of $1.1322, while the dollar fell more than 1.5 percent against the yen to 99.56 yen and more than 1 percent against the Swiss franc to 0.9589 franc.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, also fell more than 1 percent to its lowest in more than seven weeks at 94.426.
Analysts said San Francisco Fed President John Williams’ comments on Monday pressured the dollar. Williams said the Fed should consider setting higher inflation targets. The Fed currently targets a 2-percent inflation goal.
Data showing U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in July, marking the weakest reading since February, reinforced skepticism that the Fed would hike rates by December.
“The Williams letter was important in the regard that it means that we’re going to have the life-support machine on for longer,” said Douglas Borthwick, managing director at Chapdelaine Foreign Exchange in New York.
Borthwick said expectations that U.S. rates would remain low supported emerging market currencies such as the Mexican peso and Russian ruble since lower-for-longer U.S. monetary policy would keep afloat emerging market countries who have borrowed in dollars.
The dollar pared losses, however, after New York Fed President William Dudley told Fox Business Network that the U.S. central bank could possibly raise rates as soon as September.
After Dudley’s comments, federal funds futures prices suggested traders saw a 55 percent chance the Fed would raise rates at its December meeting, compared with an implied 42 percent probability on Monday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch program.
The impact of Williams’ comments was partially unwound by Dudley’s, said Steve Englander, global head of G10 FX strategy at Citigroup in New York.
The euro was last up 0.82 percent against the dollar at $1.1275, while the dollar was last down 1 percent against the yen at 100.25 yen.
(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Frances Kerry)