Dollar weakens as September rate cut bets mount


The dollar fell broadly on Friday as news of slower U.S. employment growth in July and heightened U.S.-China trade tensions fueled expectations that the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates again in September.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 164,000 jobs in July, fewer than the month prior, and wages increased modestly, the Labor Department said. The report came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump announced an additional 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports starting Sept. 1, leading financial markets to almost fully price in a September rate cut.

The dollar fell 0.76% against the Japanese yen to its lowest since Jan. 3, last at 106.50. Versus the euro it was 0.22% weaker at $1.1109. The Swiss franc, which like the yen serves as a safe-haven investment in times of market volatility, was 0.83% stronger to 0.9818 franc per dollar.

"On balance it is probably a slightly dollar-negative number because I do think that the totality of the report increases the case for a Fed rate cut in September. We're already at the point where we're trading that," said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

The U.S. central bank on Wednesday cut its short-term interest rate for the first time since 2008. Fed Chair Jerome Powell described the widely anticipated 25-basis-point monetary policy easing as a mid-cycle policy adjustment to protect U.S. expansion from the global economic slowdown happening outside its borders.

Following the cut, the dollar rose in sympathy with U.S. Treasury note prices, but that move had largely been retraced on Friday.

The chance of a September rate cut was 98.1% on Friday afternoon, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool, a large jump from 56.2% a week prior. Not all market participants were persuaded.

"We think that's way too high. Clearly what (Powell) wanted to convey at the press conference was that there's no certainty about what the next move is going to be," said Gershon Distenfeld, co-head of fixed income at AllianceBernstein.

"The reality is that if the intention was to ease monetary conditions, this did exactly the opposite. Equities are down, the curve is flatter, the dollar higher - all monetary tightening conditions here in the U.S. So they didn't really accomplish much except getting markets nervous."