×

Fed interest rate increase expectations after Jackson Hole boost dollar, hurt Asian currencies

The newly resurgent dollar pressured Asian currencies as markets revived bets that the U.S. Federal Reserve could possibly raise interest rates as soon as next month.

The advances in regional currencies were substantial. The dollar was fetching 102.03 yen at 9:51 a.m. HK/SIN, after flirting with levels around 100 yen just before the Fed's conclave in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The Australian dollar also felt the sting, fetching $0.7534 Monday morning, down from nearly $0.77 on Friday. The Singapore dollar was also lower, with the greenback fetching S$1.3614 Monday morning, up from as little as S$1.3469 on Friday.

The Malaysian ringgit also fell, with the dollar fetching 4.0425 ringgit on Monday morning, compared with as little as 4.0100 ringgit on Friday.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback's performance against a basket of currencies, jumped to 95.525 on Monday morning, from as low as 94.246 on Friday.

Analysts pointed to Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech at the conclave on Friday as the reason for the newly resurgent dollar.

While markets still saw December as the most likely timing for a Fed rate hike, Yellen opened the door to a September hike when she said the case for a rate hike strengthened in recent months.

Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer further pushed the Fed's September meeting into play when he said in a CNBC interview that Yellen's comments were consistent with a Fed that could hike rates in September, as well as a second time this year.

Markets quickly priced in the possibility that the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Sept. 20-21 could turn "live."

Goldman Sachs economists Friday said their expectations for a September hike rose to 40 percent after the Jackson Hole comments, up from 30 percent. Their odds for a hike this year rose from 75 percent to 80 percent.

Roger Bridges, global rates and currencies strategist at Nikko Asset Management, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that the dollar still appeared slightly undervalued for the near term.

"The U.S. dollar was not moving with interest rate differentials and now the Fed has sort of committed itself to at least one rate hike this year, maybe a little bit earlier than the market was thinking," he said.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was yielding around 1.6 percent on Monday morning, low by historical standards, but well above the negative yields in many European and Japanese bonds. That should have been attracting yield-chasing funds into the dollar.

Jackson Hole "just raised the interest rate differential and so the U.S. dollar should be going up," Bridges said.

Other analysts also expected the dollar would remain in demand.

"The short-term knee jerk dollar reaction is completely understandable, given the sort of messaging we've been getting, the data we've had," David Mann, chief economist for Asia at Standard Chartered Bank, told CNBC's "Street Signs."

He said that if the U.S. non-farm payrolls data due on Friday were strong, that would provide even more support for the greenback.

But he added that over the medium term, the dollar might remain supported, but he wasn't certain it would hit fresh highs, saying that there might not be too many Fed rate hikes ahead.


Jose A. Bernat Bacete | Moment | Getty Images

—Patti Domm contributed to this article.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.

—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1