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SINGAPORE: The dollar began on a firm footing on Monday, following five straight weeks of gains, as investors looked ahead to Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole symposium for a guide on where rates might settle when the dust of this hiking cycle clears.

The dollar made a gain of 0.7% on the euro last week, inched ahead on the yen and surged by more than 1% on the Antipodean currencies as US Treasury yields leapt in anticipation of interest rates staying higher for longer.

In early trade, the Australian dollar, steady at $0.6409, was just above last week’s nine-month low of $0.6365 and the New Zealand dollar was pinned at $0.5923, also uncomfortably close to last week’s low of $0.5903.

They have suffered a double blow lately as in both countries central banks have indicated they are on hold, and both are exposed, via exports, to China where market fears about the slowing economy have swelled as property problems deepened.

“The Australian dollar will continue to underperform this week in our view,” said strategists at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in a note to clients.

“We consider there is a growing risk that the Aussie dips below $0.60 before year-end. It will likely take a big Chinese stimulus package focused on commodity-intensive infrastructure spending to turn around the downtrend.”

China vowed financial support on the weekend to resolve local government debt problems but details were light and in the absence of more concrete promises traders are starting to lose faith that Beijing will ride to the rescue.

For China the focus on Monday is on an expected cut to lending benchmarks. The yuan steadied at 7.3084 per dollar in offshore trade, having bounced off last week’s lows when state banks stepped in as buyers during London and New York hours.

The yen is also on intervention-watch, having fallen to levels around which authorities stepped in last year. It was steady at 145.19 per dollar in early trade.

The euro held at $1.0883. Sterling hovered at $1.2738. The Swiss franc was just above a six-week low made last week at 0.8817 per dollar.

Apart from waiting for news of stimulus in China, the upcoming Jackson Hole symposium - where Fed chair Jerome Powell is due to speak on Friday - is markets’ major focus and may set the direction for US yields.

Ten-year yields rose 14 basis points for the week and touched a 10-month high of 4.328%, within a whisker of a 15-year high. Thirty-year yields rose nearly 11 bps to their highest in more than a decade.

The theme this year for the annual gathering in Wyoming is “structural shifts in the global economy”.

“Two things that may come across are: decades of ultra-low rates backed by ultra-low inflation may be over,” said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank in singapore.

“And global policy-makers may prefer to maintain restrictive real rates for a while, thereby keeping risks from volatile inflation alive.”

Bitcoin, which was battered to a two-month low last week as rising US yields and China’s slowing economy drove a wave of selling, nursed those losses at $26,129.


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