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Markets

Euro struggles vs dollar as attention turns to Fed

LONDON: The euro struggled to make headway against a resilient dollar on Wednesday and was stuck near $1.11, with forex

21 Aug 2019

LONDON: The euro struggled to make headway against a resilient dollar on Wednesday and was stuck near $1.11, with forex markets mostly calm ahead of a crucial meeting of central bankers later this week.

With markets rushing to price significant easing from central banks in the United States and Europe, the outlook for euro/dollar will depend largely on whether or not policymakers live up to those expectations.

Officials from major central banks will gather at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday with markets focused on a scheduled speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

His comments are of particular interest after last week's inversion of the U.S. yield curve - widely regarded as a recession signal - boosted expectations the Fed would lower interest rates at its September policy meeting. Faced with rising risks to the U.S. economy, the central bank in July cut rates for the first time since the financial crisis.

"In the big scheme of things, markets are relatively range-bound, with the focus on Jackson Hole later this week," said Manuel Oliveri, a strategist at Credit Agricole.

The euro was last down 0.1% at $1.1092. The dollar, measured against a basket of currencies, rose 0.1% to 98.265.

Oliveri expects the euro to strengthen towards $1.12 by September, even though the European Central Bank will struggle to exceed investor expectations for cutting rates.

Talk of more fiscal spending in Germany, and the hit to the U.S. yield advantage from falling interest rates, should support the euro, he added.

"Fiscal stimulus is a positive for the currency," he said.

The dollar has also been supported by talk of more spending - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his administration was considering potential tax cuts on wages as well as profits from asset sales.

The single currency was little moved on Tuesday after Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation, with some investors believing the move made a snap general election less likely.

Elsewhere, sterling was the big focus as Prime Minister Boris Johnson heads to Berlin to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks over Brexit.

The pound jumped on Tuesday after Merkel raised the possibility of practical solutions to the so-called backstop - an insurance policy for the Irish border after Brexit -that London opposes.

With the British currency having slumped in recent weeks on concerns about a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31, investors have built up a huge short position - analysts say that makes the currency vulnerable should any positive noises emerge from Johnson's meeting with Merkel.

Sterling was last down 0.3% at $1.2134 and 0.2% lower versus the euro at 91.405 pence.

The dollar rose against the yen, rising 0.3% to 106.55 .

MUFG analysts said the dollar was rising against the yen after Trump said he wanted to introduce new tax cuts and on reports that negotiations to agree a U.S.-Japan trade deal were making progress.

"While trade talks are ongoing, it will be more difficult for Japan to express concern over a stronger yen given President Trump's concerns over currency manipulation," the analysts wrote.

Copyright Reuters, 2019