Dollar steady after soft US jobs report; yen starts week on back foot

GLOBAL-FOREX/:FOREX-Dollar steady after soft US jobs report; yen starts week on back foot

Reuters
First Published6 May 2024
Dollar steady after soft US jobs report; yen starts week on back foot
Dollar steady after soft US jobs report; yen starts week on back foot

By Ankur Banerjee

SINGORE, - The dollar was broadly steady on Monday as a soft U.S. jobs report boosted wagers that the Federal Reserve may still cut rates twice this year, while the yen was a tad weaker to start the week.

The yen had clocked last week its strongest weekly gain in more than 17 months following two bouts of suspected Japanese government interventions to pull the currency away from 34-year low of 160.245 per dollar.

On Monday, the yen weakened 0.43% to 153.62 per dollar in early trading, having touched a three-week high of 151.86 on Friday, as the dollar lost additional ground after the jobs data.

Mainland China's markets were closed for three days last week. But the offshore yuan had risen on the back on the dollar's broad retreat after data showed a cooling U.S. jobs market, Fed Chair Jerome Powell confirmed the central bank's easing bias and Japan intervened to push the yen higher.

The offshore yuan was last at 7.1959 per dollar, and gained more than 1% last week.

Japan is closed for a holiday on Monday as is Britain, likely resulting in lower volumes. But with Japanese authorities choosing last week's quiet periods to intervene in the yen market, traders will be on high alert through the day.

The more than 9 trillion yen that the Bank of Japan is estimated to have spent to prop up the frail yen last week has only bought it some time, analysts say, as the market still views the currency as a sell.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission's weekly commitments of traders report showed that non-commercial traders, a category that includes speculative trades and hedge funds, reduced their yen short positions to 168,388 futures contracts in the week ended April 30, still close to their largest bearish positions since 2007.

While Japan clearly has capacity to intervene more, the broader macro environment remains quite negative for the yen, according to Goldman Sachs strategists, noting intervention "success" can only go so far.

"But, buying time is still valuable, as it reduces the potential for economic disruptions from the exchange rate adjustment and could stabilize the currency until the economic backdrop becomes more supportive for JPY," they said in a note.

FED PATH

Data on Friday showed U.S. job growth slowed more than expected in April and the increase in annual wages fell below 4.0% for the first time in nearly three years, as signs of labour market cooling raised optimism that the U.S. central bank could engineer a "soft landing" for the economy.

Markets are now pricing in 45 basis points of cuts this year, with a rate cut in November fully priced in.

The Fed held interest rates steady at the conclusion of its two-day monetary policy meeting, as expected, but signalled it was still leaning towards eventual rate cuts, even if they may take longer to come than initially expected.

"While inflation is likely to remain closer to 3% than 2% this year, we project just enough cooling in inflation to meet the Fed’s bar for a summer rate cut," Citi strategists said in a note.

"The case for cuts will be much stronger if we are correct that softer April jobs are a sign of further weakening to come."

The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against six rivals, was at 105.12, having touched a three week low of 104.52 on Friday.

The euro was up 0.07% at $1.0765, while the sterling was last at $1.2547, up 0.02% on the day.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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