Asia FX muted, dollar set for weekly drop on Fed rate cut bets


Most Asian currencies moved little on Friday after strong gains earlier this week, while the dollar headed for a sharp weekly fall as weak labor market data fueled more bets that the Federal Reserve will trim interest rates by mid-2024.

Weakness in the dollar put most regional units on course for a strong weekly performance, although a bulk of these gains also came as Asian currencies recovered from multi-month lows.

The Japanese yen was among the biggest beneficiaries of recent dollar weakness, and was set to add 0.6% this week- its best weekly gain in over four months. The currency recovered from a one-year low hit earlier in November.

But Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda on Friday stressed on the need to maintain an ultra-dovish stance, presenting little near-term relief for the yen. Ueda’s comments also came just a few days after data showed Japan’s economy shrank much more than expected in the September quarter.

The South Korean won steadied near three-month highs on Friday, and was set to add 1.8% this week, after signs of economic resilience in the country helped it recover sharply from a recent one-year low.

The Australian dollar fell slightly on Friday and was set to add 1.6% this week. Focus was now on the minutes of the Reserve Bank’s recent meeting, which were due next week.

The Singapore dollar traded sideways on Friday, taking some support from data that showed an improvement in the country’s key non-oil exports. But signs of continued weakness in China kept Singapore’s near-term economic prospects uncertain.

Chinese yuan heads for weekly gain, rate decision on tap

The yuan was flat, and was headed for a 0.6% weekly gain as it recovered from a one-year low. Data released this week showed some signs of resilience in the Chinese economy, as industrial production and retail sales grew more than expected.

But other economic indicators for October still pointed to consistent weakness in the Chinese economy, especially as it slipped into disinflation territory.

Focus is now on the People’s Bank of China, which is set to decide on its benchmark loan prime rate on Monday. But the bank is expected to keep rates at record lows, as it struggles to maintain a balance between shoring up economic growth and stemming weakness in the yuan.

The Indian rupee was among the few outliers this week, falling 0.1% on Friday and remaining close to record lows, amid growing concerns that the Indian economy was running out of steam.

Dollar set for weekly drop as markets look to Fed rate cuts

The dollar index and dollar index futures steadied in Asian trade on Friday. But the greenback was set to lose nearly 1.5% this week, as a string of middling economic readings spurred bets that the Fed was done raising interest rates.

After softer-than-expected inflation readings for October, data on Thursday showed that weekly jobless claims grew more than expected for a fourth straight week.

The readings spurred growing bets that the Fed was done hiking interest rates, and will likely begin trimming rates by mid-2024.

The minutes of the Fed’s October meeting are due next week, and are also set to provide more cues on the central bank’s outlook.


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