Dollar Jumps After Fed Official’s Taper Talk Stirs Markets
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major trading currencies, was about 0.06% higher just before the remarks by James Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Fed who is considered a hawk on policy.
Bullard said in comments to CNBC that he was skeptical that inflation would moderate and for that reason the Fed needed to start tapering its bond-purchasing program.
“We have to get going on taper, get the taper finished by the end of the first quarter of next year. Then we can evaluate inflation, what the situation is,” Bullard said.
The dollar index jumped to above 93, a key resistance level, before easing a bit to trade 0.15% higher at 92.958. On Wednesday, the index had dropped to 92.801 for the first time since Aug. 17.
The euro was down 0.07% at $1.1762.
Two weeks ago the dollar index rose above 93 and has been testing that level since as a support level, said Steven Ricchiuto, U.S. chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA LLC.
The market will likely discount what Bullard said, in part because he’s a non-voting member of the Fed’s policy-setting committee, but “his voice is heard in the room and you have to assume therefore it does have some impact”, he said.
“I don’t think we’re likely to reverse (the dollar’s trend higher) too quickly,” he said.
Bullard’s comments came as the Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming opened, with the highlight expected to be Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday. Powell is unlikely to offer few new hints about when the Fed may start to reduce its massive asset purchases, analysts said.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields were last at 1.356%, after reaching 1.375% following Bullard’s comments, the highest since Aug. 12.
The yen traded up 0.09% at $110.0900.
Currency market swings have eased ahead of Powell’s speech, with implied euro-dollar volatility at a one-week low.
Markets are assessing how the Fed will react to signs inflation could be less transitory than it had flagged and whether it will stick to its new policy framework of letting inflation run hot.
Signals of a taper starting this year had lifted the dollar index to a 9-1/2-month high of 93.734 last Friday.
Meanwhile, more central banks worldwide are exiting or contemplating exiting from ultra-easy accommodative policies. South Korea’s central bank on Thursday raised interest rates for the first time in three years.
The won gave up initial gains, however, to fall 0.6% after the hike which had been well-flagged.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.
(Reporting by Sujata Rao; additional reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)