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SINGAPORE: The dollar held firm on Friday but was pinned down near 16-week lows against a basket of major currencies as data showing increased US consumer spending in October emboldened investor hopes that the peak in interest rates was on the horizon.

The dollar index/, which measures the currency against six major peers including the yen and euro, rose 0.191% at 104.840 but was not far off Thursday’s low of 104.56, the lowest since Aug. 11.

Data on Thursday showed that US consumer spending in October increased at its greatest pace since January and the labour market remained resilient, with the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits declining last week.

The latest signs of a strong US economy come after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that it was time to slow rate hikes, noting that “slowing down at this point is a good way to balance the risks.”

The data “reinforces the market view that the FOMC is edging closer to the end of its monetary tightening cycle” and that has weighed on the US dollar, said Carol Kong, a strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Dollar lowest since August as inflation moderates

Investors now turn their attention to nonfarm payrolls data on Friday for clues about how rate hikes have affected the labour market.

“In the near term, the currency market will be driven by US payroll reports and given the market is closely monitoring any sign of a FOMC pivot and a weaker report today will weigh on the dollar,” Kong added.

The prospect of the Fed slowing its pace of monetary tightening has rejuvenated investor sentiment and sent the dollar tumbling after four straight 75 basis points hikes that fuelled much of the greenback’s ascent this year.

Futures traders are now pricing for the Fed’s benchmark rate to peak at 4.87% in May, up from 3.83% now.

Traders had priced for a top of over 5% before Powell’s comments on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the dollar was 0.05% lower at 135.25 yen, having slipped as low as 135.045 yen earlier - the lowest since Aug. 18.

The euro down 0.1% to $1.0512, after gaining 1% overnight, while sterling was last trading at $1.2237, down 0.13% on the day.

The pound advanced 1.7% overnight and touched a 5-month high of $1.2311.

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