Dollar bounces as Fed minutes revive tapering jitters


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TOKYO — The dollar bounced off three-month lows against European currencies on Thursday after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting revealed there was more talk of tapering its bond purchases than investors had expected.

In the Fed minutes, several policymakers said that a discussion about reducing the pace of asset purchases would be appropriate “at some point” if the U.S. economic recovery continues to gain momentum.

That surprised investors, given Fed Chair Jerome Powell had said right after that meeting last month that it is not time yet to begin discussing any change in policy.

“The minutes contained wordings that appear to seek to start discussion on tapering at an earlier timing than expected,” said Takafumi Yamawaki, head of fixed income research at JPMorgan.

“If the next jobs data due on June 3 is strong, markets will start bracing for the Fed making a specific mention on tapering at its next meeting in June.”

The euro changed hands at $1.2174, flat on day after having slipped 0.4% in the previous session and off a three-month high of $1.2245.

The British pound slipped to $1.4104, down 0.1% so far on Thursday and slipping further from above $1.42 earlier this week while the Swiss franc eased to 0.90415 per dollar from Tuesday’s 0.89605, its highest in nearly three months.

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The dollar rose to 109.15 yen from a one-week low of 108.575 yen touched on Wednesday.

The dollar’s index bounced back from Wednesday’s three-month low to 90.209.

The dollar has been declining over the past few weeks as key Fed officials have repeatedly said they were not ready to discuss reducing stimulus, judging spikes in inflation would be transient.

“It is worth noting that the FOMC Minutes predate the latest CPI and payroll/earnings numbers, so the fears of the minority on the FOMC are likely to have become a little more acute since the April meeting,” said Tapas Strickland, director of economics, markets at RBA in Sydney.

The Fed minutes lifted U.S. bond yields a tad, with the 10-year Treasuries yield at 1.671%, compared with around 1.65% just before the release of the minutes.

Still, yields have so far remained below their March peaks, in part capped by doubts over how aggressively a dovish Fed could move towards removing stimulus.

“Towards the summer, the U.S. has fiscal issues, and it is uncertain how big fiscal spending will be. It will be difficult for the Fed to make any moves without more clarity on fiscal policy,” said Minori Uchida, chief currency analyst at MUFG Bank.

“I’d think the dollar will gain on talk of tapering in the very near-term but I doubt it will last long,” he added.

Cryptocurrencies were volatile after suffering one of their biggest losses on Wednesday in the wake of China’s decision to ban financial and payment institutions from providing digital currency services.

Bitcoin last traded up 4.5% at $38,464, having fallen to as low as $30,066 on Wednesday, which represented a whopping 54% fall from its record high hit just over a month ago.

Ether stood almost flat at $2,470 after having plunged more than 10% to as low as $2,160 earlier. On Wednesday, it fell 22.8%, its biggest daily fall since March 2020.

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill)



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