The dollar traded steady yesterday ahead of the United States (US) Federal Reserve’s January policy meeting later this week, while bitcoin lay bruised near a six-month low hit over the weekend, hurt by a sell-off in technology stocks.
“The Fed has got markets by the leash. And this week, it will once more tug and yank,” said Frederic Neumann, HSBC’s co-head of Asian economics research, in a morning note.
Attempts to predict when and how quickly central banks will raise interest rates and conclude stimulus programmes launched when COVID-19 hit are a major factor driving currency markets at present.
“What will prompt investors to scurry about will be the guidance Chair Powell might give at his press conference about quantitative tightening later in 2022,” Neumann said, adding that he was not expecting a policy change.
The Fed’s rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) kicks off its two-day meeting today with some analysts starting to speculate that it is possible, though unlikely, that it will raise interest rates for the first time since the pandemic began.
“We consider the higher risk is the FOMC’s statement portrays an urgency to act soon, likely in March, in the face of very high inflation. The urgency could culminate in a decision to abruptly stop quantitative easing by mid-February,” said analysts at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in a note.
“A bullish statement and/or a faster end to the QE programme could even encourage markets to price a risk of a 50bp rate hike in March,” they added, saying they thought this would lead to a knee-jerk reaction higher in the dollar.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers was steady at 95.682 yesterday morning.