Dollar Pushes Higher; Will ECB React to Fed's Move?
The dollar pushed higher in early European trade Thursday, as traders trimmed bearish positions on concerns that other central banks, and the European Central Bank in particular, will look to stop their currencies appreciating too far.
At 2:55 AM ET (0655 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was up 0.2% at 93.058, moving around 1% above the 28-month low it hit against a basket of currencies on Tuesday, and threatening its first back-to-back daily gains since June.
Elsewhere, GBP/USD was down 0.5% at 1.3280, USD/JPY was up 0.1% at 106.30, and EUR/USD dropped 0.5% to 1.1793.
Comments Tuesday by ECB's chief economist Philip Lane that the euro-dollar rate "does matter" for monetary policy - suggesting the bank might do something about it - has prompted a reappraisal of the extremely long positioning of this pair. CFTC data showed net euro long positions at their highest ever last week.
“Whether this marks the first bout of verbal intervention remains to be seen,” said analysts at ING, in a research note, “but does serve as a reminder that the issue of EUR strength will be posed at the 10 September ECB press conference. Thus 1.20 may prove a temporary cap for the EUR.”
The ECB will have a clear interest in fighting a move above 1.20 in the short-to-medium-term as European inflation is still way too fragile to accept a much stronger euro.
“It wouldn’t be a surprise to us if the ECB policy review (ETA is currently mid-2021) included a move towards AIT [Average Inflation Targeting],” analysts at Nordea said, in a research note.
That said, “with an average core inflation below 1%, would anyone even take it barely seriously if [ECB President Christine] Lagarde were to announce an AIT regime in Europe?” Nordea asked.
Still, the Federal Reserve board members who have spoken after the U.S. central bank announced its change in policy have all been keen to add color to the view that the Fed will keep rates lower for longer and that it’s ready to add more accommodation if necessary.
“A conviction view is building that the dollar be sold on rallies, “ said ING. “For the short term, the dollar has been finding some support at big figures, such as 1.20 in EUR/USD, 0.90 in USD/CHF and always 105 in USD/JPY. A market very short dollars may be prone to some short-term profit-taking, but FAIT [Flexible Average Inflation Targeting] is a macro theme that will dominate markets for years.”
For now, traders will focus Thursday on key services growth data in both Europe and the U.S., as well as weekly U.S. initial jobless claims data for more guidance.