© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar banknote is seen in this picture illustration taken May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
By Tom Westbrook
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The dollar made a wobbly start to the week on Monday with the kiwi and sterling edging higher after a red-hot inflation readout in New Zealand and hawkish remarks from Britain’s central bank chief that put rate rises in investors’ sights.
The dollar index has now slipped about 0.6% from last week’s 2021 highs as investors figure that while price pressures might pull forward hikes by the Federal Reserve, other central banks may need to be more aggressive over the tightening cycle.
New Zealand reported its biggest quarterly jump in consumer prices in a decade on Monday. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Sunday that surging energy prices would prolong a pulse in inflation and policymakers “will have to act” if they see risks.
The data lifted the kiwi by about 0.3% to a one-month high of $0.7105. Sterling rose 0.1% to $1.3762, just shy of Friday’s one-month high of $1.3773. [NZD/]
The Australian dollar was also near its highest in six weeks and oscillated around $0.7413. Oil futures stood at fresh three-year highs and stoked expectations that even more price rises are heading along global supply chains. [O/R]
“The rest of the world is probably outpacing the U.S. in inflation, for now, and it puts more pressure on those central banks than the U.S. one,” said Westpac currency analyst Imre Speizer.
In New Zealand, he said, the surprise leap in prices would only reinforce the need for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to stay the course on its hiking trajectory, he added.
The dollar made small gains on the euro and was steady on the yen, last trading for $1.1587 per euro and buying 114.22 yen.
Bitcoin, vaunted as an inflation hedge and riding high on hopes for U.S. approval of a futures-based exchange traded fund that would funnel cash into the sector, hovered just shy of its record peak of $64,895. It last bought $62,233.
Fed funds futures are now fully pricing U.S. rate hikes to begin next September as inflation pressures rise, however a relatively shallow cycle is expected, with pricing suggesting rates could linger at 1.5% through 2026.
Swaps pricing suggests swifter and more prolonged action is now more likely elsewhere — with an almost 30% chance of a Bank of England rate hike this year and nearly 80 basis points of hikes priced through 2022.
Even in Australia, where the central bank has insisted it expects to keep rates on hold until 2024, swaps are pricing hikes to start in mid 2022 and for 100 bps of hikes before 2024 even begins.
Chinese gross domestic product data is due on Monday, with analysts expecting a slowdown, and there is an intense focus on China’s credit markets where a slew of property developers have coupon payments due.
The yuan was firm in offshore trade at 6.4324 per dollar.