By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK (Reuters) -The dollar and the euro both eased on Monday after European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde calmed market expectations of a quick hike in interest rates that pushed regional bond yields in Europe up to multi-year highs.
There is no need for big monetary policy tightening in the euro zone as inflation is set to decline and could stabilize around the ECB’s target of 2%, Lagarde told a European Parliament hearing.
Last week the ECB opened the door to a rate hike later in 2022 as inflation risks rose, while data showing an unexpected jump in U.S. jobs created in January also raised speculation of a faster timetable for the Federal Reserve to hike rates.
The new rate expectations for both the Fed and ECB pit the dollar and euro against each other as to which will gain an upper hand. U.S. consumer price data to be released on Thursday is poised to be a key data point determinant.
“The euro-dollar will be in a kind of tug of war between these two forces, but ultimately with CPI in the U.S., we’re probably due for a bit more of a dollar recovery,” said Kathy Lien, a managing director at BK Asset Management.
A Reuters poll of economists showed they expect year-over-year CPI to have climbed to 7.3% in January.
The major currencies traded in a tight range near break-even. The dollar index fell 0.045%, with the euro down 0.03% to $1.1443.
The ECB last week got the ball moving in a positive direction for the euro, said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.
“Now the focus has shifted to U.S. inflation, which the market will use to figure out whether the Fed goes by 25 basis points or 50 basis points next month,” Manimbo added.
Markets have now priced in a one-in-three chance the Fed might hike by a full 50 basis points in March, and a reasonable chance rates will reach 1.5% by year end. [FEDWATCH]
The European common currency hit its highest since mid-January on Friday, driven by the hawkish turn from the ECB.
Not everyone is convinced of a hawkish ECB tilt.
“We don’t believe the ECB is bracing for a sudden acceleration of tightening. We still see the Fed as being on track to move well ahead of the ECB, providing support for the dollar,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.
Haefele said he expects the euro to fall to $1.10 by year-end and the dollar gaining versus the Swiss franc to finish the year at 0.98 francs per dollar, from 0.92 currently.
The two-year U.S. Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, was down 2.4 basis points at 1.298%. The yield on two-year German bonds fell by 3.5 bps to -0.29%, after hitting its highest since September 2015 at -0.21%.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.13% versus the greenback at 115.06 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.3536, up 0.05% on the day.
Bitcoin rose to a four-week high, driven in part by liquidation of some short positions that have accumulated in the virtual currency’s recent three-month downtrend.
The cryptocurrency climbed 8.94% to $44,279.81, after jumping 11% late on Friday.
Currency bid prices at 3:00PM (2000 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct Change High Bid Low Bid
Dollar index 95.3960 95.4410 -0.04% -0.279% +95.6350 +95.3530
Euro/Dollar $1.1442 $1.1451 -0.07% +0.66% +$1.1474 +$1.1415
Dollar/Yen 115.0650 115.2100 -0.12% -0.04% +115.3750 +114.9150
Euro/Yen 131.66 131.90 -0.18% +1.03% +132.1300 +131.2700
Dollar/Swiss 0.9234 0.9254 -0.22% +1.23% +0.9262 +0.9223
Sterling/Dollar $1.3537 $1.3525 +0.10% +0.10% +$1.3550 +$1.3492
Dollar/Canadian 1.2662 1.2769 -0.82% +0.16% +1.2756 +1.2661
Aussie/Dollar $0.7128 $0.7078 +0.73% -1.92% +$0.7130 +$0.7066
Euro/Swiss 1.0565 1.0592 -0.25% +1.89% +1.0604 +1.0551
Euro/Sterling 0.8451 0.8464 -0.15% +0.60% +0.8478 +0.8439
NZ Dollar/Dollar $0.6639 $0.6615 +0.38% -2.99% +$0.6641 +$0.6602
Dollar/Norway 8.7785 8.7805 +0.20% -0.13% +8.8555 +8.7800
Euro/Norway 10.0463 10.0676 -0.21% +0.33% +10.1168 +10.0300
Dollar/Sweden 9.1269 9.1532 -0.33% +1.21% +9.1736 +9.1168
Euro/Sweden 10.4439 10.4785 -0.33% +2.05% +10.4887 +10.4360
(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes in London; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Alison Williams)