The dollar was a touch lower against the euro in early trading Wednesday, trading in narrow ranges in almost all pairs as markets used a lull in the data calendar to digest the contents of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech on Tuesday.
By 4 AM ET (08:00 GMT), the EUR/USD pair was at $1.0981, up some 0.2% from late Tuesday’s levels.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of developed-market currencies, was down 0.1% at 98.680.
Powell had said that the Fed will soon start expanding its balance sheet again.
He took pains to stress that this was not the resumption of “quantitative easing”.
But rather a technical exercise in ensuring that the financial system has enough liquidity to function.
That suggests that the Fed will limit itself to buying short-dated assets, avoiding any attempt to intervene directly in price formation for longer maturities.
By contrast, the European Central Bank recently committed to resuming purchases of 20 billion euros of government bonds a month and is likely to spread those out all along the yield curve in an attempt to depress all euro maturity rates.
Separately, Powell noted that he hadn’t ruled out another interest rate cut this year, but stressed that the Fed would be data-led.
Analysts say that points increasingly to lower U.S. rates sooner rather than later.
“It does look as if the US economy is losing momentum,”
said ING chief economist for Asia-Pacific Robert Carnell.
“Our house forecast of an October rate cut followed by a further cut in December looks highly plausible given the recent run of data.
It would get a further boost if trade talks come to nothing.”
Trade talks between the U.S. and China are due to resume on Thursday, but hopes of a breakthrough have receded dramatically as the U.S. has taken a string of punitive measures focusing not on China’s trade practices but its human rights record, an area where it is politically much harder for Beijing to give ground.
Elsewhere, the British pound was bumping along the lower end of a new range after falling on Tuesday to a one-month low on the latest twist in the Brexit negotiations.
The near-breakdown of talks amid increasingly bitter exchanges between London and other European capitals ought logically to increase the risk of a disorderly “No-Deal Brexit”.
By 08:00 GMT, sterling was at $1.2228, up a little from late Thursday.
It was down against the euro however at 1.1137, just off the one-month low it hit on Tuesday.
However, given that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signaled he will ask for an extension of the Oct. 31 deadline, as required by U.K. law, if he doesn’t get a deal at next week’s summit, the market is still reluctant to price in the worst-case scenario.
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