Asia FX muted, dollar falls from 4-½-mth peak as rate uncertainty persists

Asia FX muted, dollar falls from 4-½-mth peak as rate uncertainty persists

By Ambar Warrick– Most Asian currencies moved little on Wednesday, while the dollar retreated slightly from an over four-month peak as markets remained largely on edge over the path of U.S. interest rates.

The greenback had shot up to its highest levels since mid-November after a series of hawkish comments from top Federal Reserve officials, which in turn spurred deep losses in Asian currencies.

Most Asian currencies maintained these losses on Wednesday, while a devastating earthquake in Taiwan also battered sentiment towards regional markets.

USDJPY steadies amid intervention watch
The Japanese yen steadied on Wednesday after recovering a measure of recent losses, with the USDJPY pair hovering around the mid-151 level.

While pressure from the dollar and the prospect of higher-for-longer U.S. interest rates drove the yen to a 34-year low last week, it recovered some ground after several top Japanese officials warned of currency market intervention to bring down the USDJPY pair.

The threat of intervention helped spur some strength in the yen, and also limited any long positions on USDJPY.

Chinese yuan (USDCNY) remains above 7.2
The Chinese yuan moved little on Wednesday, as further gains in the USDCNY pair were limited by a series of strong midpoint fixes from the People’s Bank of China.

Still, the USDCNY pair remained comfortably above the key 7.2 level, indicating that sentiment towards the yuan remained fragile.

The yuan took little support from a private survey showing that China’s services sector grew as expected in March.

Broader Asian currencies kept to a tight range. The Australian dollar’s AUDUSD pair rose nearly 0.1%, while the Taiwan dollar’s USDTWD pair fell 0.1%.

The South Korean won’s USDKRW pair fell 0.3%, while the Singapore dollar’s USDSGD pair moved little.

The Indian rupee’s USDINR pair moved little and remained in sight of record highs above 83.

Dollar inches lower from 4-½ month high, nonfarm payrolls in focus
The dollar index and dollar index futures fell 0.1% each in Asian trade, retreating marginally from their highest levels since mid-November.

The greenback shot up over the past few sessions as several Fed officials warned that the central bank could keep interest rates higher for longer in the face of sticky inflation and labor market strength.

More cues on the latter are due this Friday, with nonfarm payrolls data for March. The reading has consistently beaten expectations in recent months, amid persistent strength in the U.S. labor force.

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