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FOREX-Dollar near 2-month high vs yen as Fed taper betting ramps up

Hideyuki Sano
Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 | 7:50 PM ET

* Dollar broadly supported on revived Fed tapering expectations

* Yen near 2-month low vs dollar on rise in U.S. bond yields

* Sterling in focus ahead of BoE report

TOKYO, Nov 13 (Reuters) - The dollar held firm on Wednesday, staying near a two-month high against the yen as investors bet that the U.S. Federal Reserve is on course to start reducing its stimulus as early as December.

After surprisingly strong U.S. October payroll data on Friday had many investors reassessing the timing of a Fed tapering, attention is now on the comments that nominee Fed President Janet Yellen will make at her Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday.

"Since Yellen has become a candidate to succeed Ben Bernanke, she has hardly spoken about her view on monetary policy. Because the market doesn't seem to doubt she is a dove, there's a chance she is not as dovish as expected," said Ichiro Asai, economist at Daiwa Securities.

The dollar held at 99.63 yen, near a two-month high of 99.80 yen hit on Tuesday, having risen 0.6 percent so far this week, as the U.S. currency drew strength from a surge in U.S. bond yields.

Tighter U.S. monetary policy and higher U.S. bond yields tend to favour the dollar by making dollar-denominated debt more attractive to bond investors. The 10-year U.S. yield has risen almost 20 basis points since the payroll data.

The dollar index, which measures the dollar's value against a basket of major six currencies, also held near the two-month peak of 81.482 struck on Friday. It last stood at 81.133.

On Tuesday, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, seen as a centrist, did not rule out a tapering of the quantitative easing programme at the Dec. 17-18 policy meeting, though he also said the Fed should keep policy very easy.

Sterling was wobbly following a slide to a two-month low of $1.5854 the previous day after UK inflation for October fell more than expected.

It last stood flat at $1.5887, bracing for a potentially hectic trading day ahead of UK job data at 0930 GMT and more importantly the Bank of England's quarterly inflation report on Wednesday an hour later.

The pound might get a lift if the BoE brings forward the point at which it sees UK unemployment hitting 7 percent, the level at which it would consider raising rates, though a fall in inflation could give the central bank leeway to wait longer.

The euro fared a tad better, maintaining its gain from a seven-week low of $1.3295 hit just after the European Central Bank's surprise rate cut on Thursday.

The euro last stood at $1.3438, flat on the day but clinging to its 0.5 percent gain since the start of the week.

The euro also held near a two-week high against the yen and one-week high against sterling. It last stood at 133.81 yen and 84.57 pence respectively.

The Australian dollar was listless, staying near two-month low against the U.S. dollar, weighed also by a fall in energy and commodity prices. U.S. crude futures prices hit a 4 1/2 month low.