The euro gained on Thursday as the dollar weakened after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut interest rates for the third time this year and left open the question of whether it would cut them further.
The dollar was falling against most currencies, particularly the Chinese offshore yuan, which rose to an 11-week high.
The Fed lowered its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to a target range of 1.50% to 1.75%. But it dropped a reference in its policy statement that it would “act as appropriate” to sustain economic expansion — language considered a sign of future cuts.
Still, lack of an explicit signal the Fed was done with easing for now was taken as less hawkish than expected, helping to drive the dollar down.
“The new, slightly shorter, statement tries to keep their options open and puts them back into a data-dependent mode, but circumstances could mean that they have less optionality than they think,” said Tim Foster, portfolio manager at Fidelity International in London.
The euro was up 0.1% at $1.1161, after earlier reaching a 10-day high of $1.11705.
It might fall later, though. Reports later on Thursday are expected to show the euro zone’s gross domestic product growth slowed and its inflation rate fell in the third quarter.
The flash HICP inflation data was expected to fall to 0.7% in October from 0.8% in September, according to a Reuters poll. Preliminary third-quarter GDP growth was forecast at 1.1% year-on-year, compared with 1.2% in the second quarter.
“European data won’t provide many reasons to be cheerful about the euro,” ING analysts said in a note.
The dollar index rose on Wednesday to its highest since Oct. 17 as Fed Chairman Jerome Powell spoke about the central bank’s decision. But it slipped 0.4% on Thursday to 97.29, its lowest in a week.
The dollar also fell against the safe-haven Japanese yen, by 0.2% to 108.62 yen. It earlier reached a six-day low of 108.54.
The yen gained after Chile withdrew as host of an APEC summit in November, where the United States and China had been expected to take major steps toward ending a 15-month-old trade war.
Traders still think the world’s two biggest economies will arrive at a trade truce. China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday Chinese and U.S. heads of state have been maintaining contact.
The Chinese yuan rallied to its highest in 11 weeks against the dollar. The offshore yuan last traded hands at 7.0345 per dollar, up 0.1%.
“Because of this sort of lull in U.S.-China trade war, you’re starting to see investors getting their toes wet in EM assets,” said Stephen Gallo, European head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets. “People are hopeful of a year-end Santa Claus rally … they’re hopeful we can get a trade deal.”
The Chinese currency was tracking the resurgent risk appetite in emerging markets, instead of leading it, Gallo said.
“I really can’t think of a bullish China story for now.”
Frontpage February 19, 2019