Singapore, Sept. 4 (BNA): The dollar drifted in cautious trading on Monday as investors weighed U.S. jobs data that showed some signs of cooling, boosting expectations that the Federal Reserve was likely at the end of its monetary tightening cycle.
Against a basket of currencies, the dollar inched 0.048% lower to 104.18 but remained close to the two-month peak of 104.44 it touched on Aug. 25. The index gained 1.7% in August, snapping its two-month losing streak, Reuters reported.
With U.S. markets closed on Monday, liquidity is likely to be thin and traders are hesitant to place large bets.
Data on Friday showed U.S. job growth picked up in August, but the unemployment rate jumped to 3.8%, while wage gains moderated. The economy created 110,000 fewer jobs than previously reported in June and July.
“The Goldilocks metaphor is much used and abused in economic and financial circles, but in relation to the various ‘soft landing’ signals emanating from the report, on this occasion, it does seem entirely appropriate,” said Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank.
A string of economic data highlighting moderating inflation as well as an easing labour market has added to the impression the U.S. economy is cooling without slowing sharply, reinforcing hopes that the economy is set for a soft landing.
However, Citi strategists are warning of a harder landing, saying in a note, “Sticky wage and price inflation will lead to higher-for-longer policy rates and an eventual more substantial slowing of economic activity.”
HSBC’s Global Head of FX Research Paul Mackel said the one question among clients is whether downward surprises in U.S. activity data could materialise and push the dollar lower.
“It is surely a risk but activity data surprises in the Eurozone are still trending lower and are not improving much for China. Unless those improve materially, then it is harder for the dollar to fall.”
Mackel also said if the U.S. data pulse were to start slowing quickly, then it would add to the gloom for the global economy, which usually coincides with a stronger dollar.
Investor focus will be on a number of Fed officials due to speak this week for clues on what the U.S. central bank would do at its next policy meeting on Sept. 19-20.
Markets are pricing in a 93% chance of the Fed holding steady on rates this month, and over a 60% probability of no more hikes this year, the CME FedWatch tool showed.
The yen strengthened 0.06% to 146.16 per dollar. The Asian currency has traded around the psychologically important 145 level since the middle of August, with traders keeping an eye out for any signs of intervention.
Japan intervened in currency markets last September when the dollar rose past 145 yen, prompting the Ministry of Finance to buy the yen and push the pair back to around 140 yen.
The euro was up 0.06% to $1.078, while sterling was at $1.2602, up 0.11% on the day.
The Australian dollar added 0.2% to $0.6463 ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting on Tuesday when it is expected to stand pat. A Reuters poll showed that all but two of 36 economists said the RBA would hold its official cash rate at 4.10% on Sept. 5.
The Aussie dollar and the New Zealand dollar got a lift on Monday from measures from Chinese authorities to help shore up China’s property sector.
The Canadian dollar rose 0.07% to 1.36 per dollar ahead of the Bank of Canada’s policy meeting this week, with the central bank expected to hold rates.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin rose 0.95% to $25,997.50. Ethereum gained 0.67% to $1,638.30.
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