It seems the government’s dollar policy is just a bundle of contradictions. The dollar had strengthened in recent days after Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson warned that he isn't ruling out intervening in currency markets to stabilize the dollar. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also helped lift the dollar by suggesting the Fed is prepared to raise interest rates to fight inflation.
But then a top Fed policy-maker hinted on Monday that rates will remain on hold, which would not improve the dollar’s standing against other major currencies.
Jeffrey Lacker, who made the comments, is one of the more hawkish members of the Fed's policy-setting committee and his deliberately moderate tone on inflation expectations signals that he may be comfortable leaving rates on hold for a while.
The conflicting information is dizzying – so to set things straight we turn to esteemed trader, Dennis Gartman, author of The Gartman Letter.
What’s your take on interest rates?
I don’t think the Fed has any chance of raising rates, replies Gartman, at least though the end of the year. Unemployment is going up.
But isn’t the bond market pricing it in?
I think the bond market gets confused sometimes, he says.
How about the dollar?
If they want to make the dollar stronger we need action and I don’t expect to see that, Gartman says.
(The weak U.S. currency is considered a key culprit in the surge in oil prices because some traders invest in oil as a hedge against a slumping dollar.)
And your thoughts on oil?
I thought the action in the oil market was very poor on Monday. It would be interesting if oil trades lower Tuesday and doesn’t rally. If that happens the technicals would be very bearish, says Gartman.
I think the thing you need to look for is a gap lower open, adds Joe Terranova. That would be bearish in my book.
How would you trade it?