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SINGAPORE: The dollar began the last trading week of the month on a firmer footing, with traders awaiting a slew of central bank policy meetings that could signal how soon the steep increases in interest rates globally might come to an end.

US Federal Reserve policymakers are widely expected to raise rates by another 25 basis points at next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, though the focus will be on the guidance for the future rate path.

While recent economic data have pointed to slowing US growth, parts of the economy continue to show resilience while inflation remains sticky, leaving traders debating the scale of rate cuts expected as early as July through to the end of the year.

The US dollar rose broadly against most major currencies in Asia trade, with the euro and sterling slipping 0.07% to $1.0981 and 0.06% to $1.2437, respectively.

The Aussie fell 0.29% to $0.6674. The US dollar index rose 0.13% to 101.81, but was on course for a monthly loss of more than 0.7%, having fallen over 2% in March.

Data released on Friday showed that US and euro zone business activity gathered pace in April, reducing concerns about an impending recession in major economies.

“The takeaway from the various PMIs is that the services sector both in Europe and the US seems to be pretty resilient,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank.

“There’s nothing, as yet, to hang your hat on rate cuts in the second half of the year,” he added, noting inflation-related indicators would need to show more evidence of price pressures subsiding. Markets are expecting the European Central Bank (ECB), which also meets next week, to raise rates by a quarter point, with some chance of a 50bp hike.

Dollar firms as US yields rise

ECB President Christine Lagarde said last week that inflation in the euro zone remains too high and the ECB’s monetary policy “still has a bit of way to go” to bring back inflation towards its 2% goal.

Elsewhere, the kiwi fell 0.15% to $0.6130/ In Asia, the Bank of Japan’s policy meeting this week takes centre stage, as it marks the first meeting to be chaired by new BOJ Governor Kazuo Ueda.

Ueda is widely expected to maintain the BOJ’s current ultra-easy policy at the meeting, having reassured markets since succeeding Haruhiko Kuroda early this month that any change in policy won’t happen quickly.

“We still look for a removal of the YCC (yield curve control) regime, an interest rate hike at some stage this year amid broadening inflationary pressures and upward pressure on wage growth in Japan,” said OCBC currency strategist Christopher Wong.

The yen was last roughly 0.2% lower at 134.41 per US dollar.

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