Dollar slides as investors balance positions ahead of U.S. inflation data

A man exchanges US dollar bills at exchange office.
Muhammed Semih Ugurlu | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The dollar fell to a more than one-week low on Friday as investors consolidated gains after a sharp rise against most currencies, ahead of a U.S. inflation report that could determine the size of the Federal Reserve's rate hike at this month's policy meeting.

On the week, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback's value against six major peers, posted its first weekly fall in four on Friday.

"Markets are getting a little nervous about levels, really historic levels, so the market decided not to push the dollar's strength at this juncture and lightened up positions," said Greg Anderson, global head of FX strategy, at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

"Probably position-taking will be light until the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting. The market looked at everything overnight and decided that this is a good juncture to square up and that process has brought the dollar lower. But this is not a reversal of the trend on dollar strength," he added.

The greenback this week soared to a 24-year high against the yen, a 37-year peak versus sterling, wit the dollar index surging to a more than 20-year high.

On Friday, the dollar index dropped as low as 108.35 and was last down 0.5% at 108.96. U.S. rate futures are pricing in an 87% chance of the Fed hiking by 75 bps hike this month, with fresh U.S. consumer price data next week likely to be closely watched.

Capital Economics expects the CPI to continue to edge lower.

"We think falling inflation in the U.S. is consistent with our view that the backdrop remains favorable for the dollar, as it stands to benefit from higher real rates while the global economy slows," wrote Jonathan Petersen, Capital Economics senior markets economist wrote in its latest research note.

One of the big gainers was the euro, which leapt as much as 1.2% to a three-week high of $1.0114, a day after the European Central Bank raised its key interest rate by an unprecedented 75 basis points (bps). It was last up 0.5% at $1.0045.

Europe still faces a weak economic outlook, with sky-high energy prices squeezing consumers and businesses. European Union energy ministers were split on Friday over whether to cap Russian gas prices, as they met to work out steps to shield citizens.

Currencies perceived as riskier bets also benefited from an improvement in market sentiment to end the week, reflected in gains across European and U.S. stock markets.

Sterling gained 0.8% to $1.1592, after a modest dip the previous day following the death of Queen Elizabeth.

The Bank of England said on Friday it would delay its next monetary policy meeting by one week due to the period of royal mourning.

The Japanese yen posted its best daily gain in a month, up 1% at 142.675 yen per dollar, as it clawed away from recent 24-year lows.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Friday rapid yen moves were undesirable after a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The Australian dollar also had its best daily rise in a month, up 1.3% versus the U.S. dollar to US$0.6850, also rebounding from deep lows.

Even beaten down cryptocurrencies advanced at the dollar's expense, with bitcoin up more than 10% at $21,300.