October 17, 2018 / 1:25 AM / 2 months ago

Dollar gains as Fed minutes show further rate hikes likely

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar index rose to its highest levels in a week on Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s September meeting affirmed expectations that the U.S. central bank is likely to continue raising interest rates.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Dollar banknotes are seen in this photo illustration taken February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/Illustration

Every Fed policymaker backed raising interest rates last month and also generally agreed borrowing costs were set to rise further.

The dollar index hit session highs after the minutes were released, although the bulk of Wednesday’s rally came before the news.

“There was a pretty well-formed expectation that it would more likely showcase a Fed that’s more confident and assertive debating tighter policy,” said Richard Franulovich, head of FX strategy at Westpac Banking Corp in New York.

The dollar index .DXY gained 0.49 percent to 95.510 after earlier reaching 95.562, the highest since Oct. 10.

Interest rate futures are now pricing in a 78 percent likelihood that the U.S. central bank raises rates in December for the fourth time this year, up from 77 percent before the minutes, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool. Two more increases are further likely next year.

Sterling weakened after the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Wednesday much more time was needed to secure an exit deal for Britain.

The British pound had weakened earlier on Wednesday after consumer price data for September came in at an annual rate of 2.4 percent versus forecasts of 2.6 percent.

Some market analysts warned against buying into the dollar’s strength, however, saying financial conditions appeared to be tightening globally.

Cross-currency basis swaps in euros, yen and sterling - money market gauges of offshore dollar liquidity - have widened in recent weeks, suggesting the Fed’s rate hikes have cut into the availability of overseas dollars.

“Risk caution is warranted ... the replacement of Fed liquidity has come at the expense of tightening liquidity conditions outside the U.S.,” Morgan Stanley strategists said.

Additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee in London; Editing by Bill Trott

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