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FOREX-Dollar jumps as hawkish Fed comments outweigh Trump speech
March 1, 2017 / 12:59 PM / 9 months ago

FOREX-Dollar jumps as hawkish Fed comments outweigh Trump speech

* Fed comments dominate as Trump offers no detail on stimulus

* Dollar index hits 7-week high

* Peso up, yuan losses limited

By Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a seven-week high on Wednesday on hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve would lift rates this month, after hawkish comments from two of its top officials overshadowed U.S. President Donald Trump’s first major policy speech to Congress.

New York Fed President William Dudley, a permanent voter on the U.S. central bank’s open market committee and close ally of chair Janet Yellen, said the case for tightening monetary policy “has become a lot more compelling”.

John Williams, President of the San Francisco Fed, said a rate increase was very much on the table for serious consideration at the March meeting given full employment and accelerating inflation.

That drove the return for holding dollars on the debt market higher, with 10-year Treasury yields last up around 5 basis points at around 2.4 percent.

Money market futures are now pricing in almost a 70 percent chance of a rise in official interest rates in March, compared to a just over 30 percent chance before the Fed comments.

“The dollar’s bid because of the hawkish Fed comments last night,” said Richard Wiltshire, chief currency broker at ETX Capital in London.

The greenback climbed 1 percent to touch a two-week high of 113.88 yen, and gained half a percent against the euro to $1.0527.

Any expectations that Trump would give details on stimulus plans that drove stellar gains in the dollar in November were largely disappointed.

In a speech that contrasted with harsher rhetoric during his election campaign, Trump said he was open to reforming the U.S. immigration system and pledged massive tax relief for the middle class, but did not expand further.

China’s yuan, which has been a target for markets given Trump’s previous aggressive talk on trade, but which has risen for the past two months as the dollar’s rally stalled, was down just 0.2 percent on the day.

The Mexican peso, seen as the most vulnerable to Trump’s protectionist policies, also took his speech in its stride, rising 0.5 percent to 19.996 pesos per dollar.

“Today was ‘good Trump’ compared to the aggressive ‘bad Trump’ shown on Twitter,” said Ayako Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo.

The dollar also rose against sterling, with the pound falling below $1.23 for the first time since late January after weak UK manufacturing and credit data.

The greenback’s broad gains on the day generated a nearly 0.8 percent rise in the dollar index, which measures the currency against a basket of six major peers, to reach its highest since Jan. 11. (Additional Reporting by Hideyuki Sano and Yuzuha Oka in Tokyo; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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