Federal Reserve

Dollar spikes higher after Fed hints US rate increase possible in June

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 May, 2017, 4:10am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 May, 2017, 4:10am

The US dollar rallied broadly on Wednesday and hit more than six-week highs against the yen after the Federal Reserve signalled it was still on track for two more interest rate hikes this year.

The Fed kept interest rates unchanged, downplayed weak first-quarter economic growth and emphasised the strength of the labour market in its statement following the end of a two-day policy meeting.

The central bank also said consumer spending continued to be solid, business investment had firmed and inflation has been “running close” to its target.

The dollar rose by as much as 0.7 per cent against the yen, and hit 112.69 yen, the highest level since March 21, as the Fed statement solidified expectations for a rate hike in June and another in the second half of the year.

“The June hike looks pretty much alive,” said Win Thin, global head of emerging markets currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

Fed keeps rates unchanged and shrugs off weak US first quarter economic performance

The euro fell by as much as 0.4 per cent against the dollar, to a session trough of US$1.0888 after the statement, after rising as high as US$1.0936 earlier. The dollar also jumped against the Swiss franc, sterling and the Canadian dollar.

Even before the Fed statement, the dollar had hit more than six-week highs against the yen as traders digested the possibility of ultra-long US bond issuance and stronger-than-expected April US services sector growth.

Investors were awaiting Friday’s monthly US non-farm payrolls report for greater signs of the Fed’s likely rate hike trajectory through the end of the year. Economists expect US employers to have added 185,000 jobs in April, up from 98,000 in March.

The Fed statement “makes the Friday non-farm payrolls report I think more important, because if that is disappointing then the Fed is going to back pedal,” said Axel Merk, president and chief investment officer of Palo Alto, California-based Merk Investments.

Private employers expanded their payrolls by 177,000 jobs last month, payrolls process ADP reported on Wednesday. While that was the smallest gain since October, it roughly matched expectations of economists who had forecast a gain of 175,000 jobs.

The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies but the majority of whose weighting is against the euro, was last up 0.4 per cent at 99.345.