US Dollar firms ahead of inflation data

28 Feb 2024

The US Dollar was firmer on Wednesday as markets awaited global inflation figures for indications as to when central banks may begin to ease policy.

Markets will be focusing on consumer inflation data from the US, Germany, France and Spain on Thursday, followed by euro area data on Friday.

"There's more chance of disinflation ongoing in the euro area, which perhaps could open the door for an earlier cut from the European Central Bank," stated Danske Bank FX and rates strategist Mohamad Al-Saraf.

"We think if inflation is stickier in the US than it is in the euro area then the Dollar has to be strong."

The greenback has edged higher in 2024, including against the Euro, due to markets reducing bets on the number of rate cuts forecasts by the Fed this year. The single currency fell 0.4% against the Dollar at the time of writing to $1.0804, Reuters reports.

The Dollar index, measuring the currency against six rivals, was up 0.3% on Wednesday at 104.20, after rising 2.8% year-to-date.

In New Zealand, the central bank held the cash rate steady at 5.5%, with policymakers stating the inflation outlook risks are now more balanced.

In addition, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand reduced its forecast cash rate peak to 5.6% from a prior forecast of 5.7%.

"With a cash rate at 5.5%, the 10 basis points of wriggle room is simply there to remind us that they'll hike if they need to but the bias is that they probably won't," according to Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at City Index.

The New Zealand Dollar fell more than 1% at $0.6100 in response, its lowest since mid-February.

The Australian Dollar also declined as inflation slowed to an annual pace of 3.4% last month, falling short of market forecasts of 3.6%.

Even though the inflation figure is above the central bank's target of between 2% and 3%, "it is close enough to expect the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) to hold rates steady," Simpson added.QAX

When writing, the Aussie was 0.7% down at $0.6500.