SINGAPORE : The dollar drifted in cautious trading on Monday as investors weighed U.S. jobs data that showed some signs of cooling, boosting expectations that the Federal Reserve was likely at the end of its monetary tightening cycle.
Against a basket of currencies, the dollar inched 0.048 per cent lower to 104.18 but remained close to the two-month peak of 104.44 it touched on Aug. 25. The index gained 1.7 per cent in August, snapping its two-month losing streak.
With U.S. markets closed on Monday, liquidity is likely to be thin and traders hesitant in placing large bets.
Data on Friday showed U.S. job growth picked up in August, but the unemployment rate jumped to 3.8 per cent, while wage gains moderated. The economy created 110,000 fewer jobs than previously reported in June and July.
“The Goldilocks metaphor is much used and abused in economic and financial circles, but in relation to the various ‘soft landing’ signals emanating from the report, on this occasion it does seem entirely appropriate,” said Ray Attrill, head of foreign-exchange strategy at National Australia Bank.
A string of economic data highlighting moderating inflation as well as an easing labour market have added to the impression the U.S. economy is cooling without slowing sharply, reinforcing hopes that the economy is set for a soft landing.
However, Citi strategists are warning of a harder landing, saying in a note that “sticky wage and price inflation will lead to higher-for-longer policy rates and an eventual more substantial slowing of economic activity.”
HSBC’s Global Head of FX research Paul Mackel said the one question among clients is whether downward surprises in U.S. activity data could materialise and push the dollar lower.
“It is surely a risk but activity data surprises in the Eurozone are still trending lower and are not improving much for China. Unless those improve materially, then it is harder for the dollar to fall.”
Mackel also said if the U.S. data pulse were to start slowing quickly, then it would add to the gloom for the global economy, which usually coincides with a stronger dollar.
Investor focus will be on a number of Fed officials due to speak this week for clues on what the U.S. central bank would do at its next policy meeting on Sept. 19-20.
Markets are pricing in a 93 per cent chance of the Fed holding steady on rates this month, and over a 60 per cent probability of no more hikes this year, CME FedWatch tool showed.
The yen strengthened 0.06 per cent to 146.16 per dollar. The Asian currency has traded around the psychologically important 145 level since the middle of August, with traders keeping an eye out for any signs of intervention.
Japan intervened in currency markets last September when the dollar rose past 145 yen, prompting the Ministry of Finance to buy the yen and push the pair back to around 140 yen.
The euro was up 0.06 per cent to $1.078, while sterling was at $1.2602, up 0.11 per cent on the day.
The Australian dollar added 0.2 per cent to $0.6463 ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting on Tuesday when it are expected to stand pat. A Reuters poll showed that all but two of 36 economists said the RBA would hold its official cash rate at 4.10 per cent on Sept. 5.
The Aussie dollar and the New Zealand dollar got a lift on Monday from measures from Chinese authorities to help shore up China’s property sector.
The Canadian dollar rose 0.07 per cent to 1.36 per dollar ahead of Bank of Canada’ policy meeting this week, with the central bank expected to hold rates.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin rose 0.95 per cent to $25,997.50. Ethereum gained 0.67 per cent to $1,638.30.
Currency bid prices at 0448 GMT
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Euro/Dollar $1.0782 $1.0773 +0.09 per cent +0.63 per cent +1.0787 +1.0772
Dollar/Yen 146.1500 146.1500 -0.01 per cent +11.36 per cent +146.2350 +146.0650
Euro/Yen 157.59 157.56 +0.02 per cent +12.32 per cent +157.6600 +157.3400
Dollar/Swiss 0.8850 0.8859 -0.11 per cent -4.30 per cent +0.8857 +0.8843
Sterling/Dollar 1.2603 1.2590 +0.08 per cent +4.19 per cent +1.2605 +1.2587
Dollar/Canadian 1.3585 1.3581 +0.02 per cent +0.26 per cent +1.3598 +1.3583
Aussie/Dollar 0.6464 0.6450 +0.22 per cent -5.17 per cent +0.6475 +0.6445
NZ 0.5946 0.5942 +0.05 per cent -6.37 per cent +0.5960 +0.5939
Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ
Following are the latest moves of the key assets: