Dollar Jumps to 7-Week High as June Fed Rate Hike Seen in Play

  • U.S. currency extends May rally after three-month slump
  • Dollar pares 2016 loss as traders adjust to Fed rate outlook

Most Fed Officials Saw June Rate Hike 'Likely'

The dollar rose to a seven-week high on Wednesday after Federal Reserve meeting minutes boosted speculation that the central bank will raise interest rates as soon as June.

The U.S. currency extended gains against most of its major peers after the release of policy makers’ deliberations indicated they are moving closer to further tightening after raising rates for the first time in a decade last December. Emerging-market currencies slumped on the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates, with the Brazilian real, South Africa’s rand and the Russian ruble pacing declines.

“The greenback should be bid here,” said Bipan Rai, executive director of foreign-exchange strategy at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Toronto. “The minutes suggest that the odds of a June hike or even a signal in June for a July hike are more likely than the market was prepared for.”

The greenback has advanced for the past two weeks in its longest run of gains since January as traders boosted expectations for the U.S. central bank to raise borrowing costs. The currency has pared its 2016 loss to 3 percent amid comments from regional Fed presidents that at least two rate increases this year may be warranted.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the greenback versus 10 peers, was little changed as of 8:26 a.m. in Tokyo after climbing 0.8 percent on Wednesday and reaching the highest level on a closing basis since March 28. The U.S. currency was at $1.1225 per euro from $1.1216 on Wednesday, when it added 0.9 percent. It fetched 110.10 yen from 110.19.

Dollar Confidence

“This is really going to give the market some renewed confidence in the dollar," said Lennon Sweeting, a corporate dealer in Toronto at the foreign-exchange transfer company USForex Inc. “We saw a couple of nice comments from the Fed, they recognize the fact that the market’s been wanting to hear a clear, concise message."

Hedge funds reduced bets for the U.S. currency to weaken versus eight other currencies last week, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. After surging more than 20 percent against the euro in the past two years, strategists project the dollar staying near its current level of $1.12 per euro through year-end.

The likelihood of the Fed raising rates at its June 14-15 meeting more than doubled from Tuesday to 32 percent, while the chances of a move by September rose to 62 percent from 47 percent the previous day, according to data based on fed fund futures compiled by Bloomberg.

Fed officials “have been building the case for a potential June hike over the past few weeks, with more hawkish undertones in their speeches,” said Minh Trang, a senior foreign-exchange trader at Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, California. “They may not want to make the mistake of waiting too long, only to see the environment weaken and lose an opportunity to hike.”

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