The dollar may give the Fed a green light on rates: Analyst

The Federal Reserve could raise interest rates in June if the dollar doesn't spike in expectation of such a move, Fidelity Investment's Jurrien Timmer said Monday.

Earlier on Monday, San Francisco Fed president John Williams told CNBC that while the U.S. economy is doing "quite well," global developments are feeding back into the dollar and the U.S. economy, preventing the Fed from moving.

Williams and three other regional Fed presidents have said the central bank should begin tightening monetary policy sooner rather than later.

The Fed raised interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade in December, but has since held steady. At its last meeting, Federal Open Market Committee members indicated they only anticipate raising rates twice this year, down from earlier expectations of four hikes.

Timmer said the Fed has been stuck in a "tug-of-war" in which the talk of higher rates strengthens the dollar, leading to corresponding weakness in the Chinese yuan. That in turn causes the People's Bank of China to draw down foreign reserves to offset yuan outflows, which creates volatility in U.S. markets.

That's why dollar movements will be the key indicator as to whether the Fed will act, said Timmer, Fidelity's director of global macro. The FOMC's April meeting is off the table, but June is potentially in play, he said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box."


"If the Fed starts talking about a June hike and things don't sort of unravel in the currency markets, then maybe they get a green light, and that would be reflected in the fed funds futures odds," he said.

"If come May the odds are well above 50 [percent] and the dollar is still somewhat well-behaved, then they get a green light, but it's too early to tell whether we're going to be there or not," he added.

The dollar climbed 1 percent against a basket of currencies last week for its first positive week in the last four.

Richard Clarida, global strategic advisor at Pimco, said he believes Fed Chair Janet Yellen will use the April statement to prepare investors for a June hike. However, he stressed that the committee will move gradually.

"If they go too aggressively, more than is priced [into the market], they do get a big move in the dollar," he told "Squawk Box" on Monday. "But I think they're resigned to some support for the dollar, and I don't think that will deter them from hiking a couple more times this year."

The Fed has likely shifted its language around future rate hikes in part because it does not want to jeopardize domestic economic expansion by seeing the dollar rise too quickly, said Mike Ryan, chief investment strategist at UBS.

"I think this is kind of not necessarily going to halt the Fed from making any actions, but I think it's going to temper the pace at which they raise rates," he told "Squawk Box."

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