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Dollar Gains After Fed Pushes Back On Big Rate Cut Bets

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The dollar rose on Wednesday as expectations dwindled for aggressive cuts in U.S. interest rates after comments by Federal Reserve officials.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell stressed the central bank’s independence from U.S. President Donald Trump, who is pushing for rate cuts. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, considered one of the most dovish U.S. central bankers, surprised some investors by saying a 50-basis-point cut in rates “would be overdone.”

The dollar fell last week after policymakers opened the door to rate cuts in coming months. Some traders thought the Fed might cut rates by as much as 50 basis points next month.

However, the overnight comments tamped down those expectations, pulling the dollar up from three-month lows against a basket of other currencies in the previous session at 95.843. It was up 0.1 per cent at 96.273.

Commerzbank strategists said a 50-basis-point cut would indicate the Fed was in a hurry, increasing the likelihood more would be coming than the market expected. Money markets are currently pricing in up to three rate cuts this year.

But the bounce is likely to be short-lived. Derivative markets suggest markets are ready for a weaker dollar.

Against the Japanese yen, for example, traders have built up large option bets between 107.50 to 107 yen. In the cash market, the yen was trading at 107.45 yen.

The New Zealand dollar was the big gainer early in London against the U.S. dollar. The kiwi gained 0.4 per cent to 0.6661 dollar from 0.6536 dollar after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand left rates unchanged at 1.5 per cent at its policy meeting, though it signalled another cut was likely.

Elsewhere, the pound remained near five-month lows at 1.2669 dollar after Boris Johnson, the leader in a contest to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, reiterated his commitment to leave the European Union with or without an agreement by Oct. 31.

 

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