Dollar fights for footing as Fed minutes eyed

Cautious mood in Asia as Singapore, Taiwan face outbreaks

  
U.S. one dollar banknotes are seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration taken February 8, 2021.

U.S. one dollar banknotes are seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration taken February 8, 2021.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SINGAPORE: The U.S. dollar found pockets of support in Asia on Monday, but struggled to post gains, as investors are heavily positioned for it to fall further while the U.S. Federal Reserve holds interest rates low and U.S. trade and current account deficits grow.

Easing commodity prices and virus outbreaks in Singapore and Taiwan - where COVID-19 had been contained - helped modest dollar gains of 0.2% against the Australian and New Zealand dollars in the early part of the Asia session. 

The greenback also rose 0.1% against the euro EUR=EBS and the yen JPY=EBS . But it remains close to testing major support levels, which if broken could see a return to a downtrend that pressed it lower through April.

A dollar bounce that followed higher-than-expected inflation data last week has also faded as traders figure the Fed will keep rates low.

The dollar last traded at $1.2134 per euro and has support around $1.2179. The dollar index is likewise, at 90.389, just above key support at 89.677 and 89.206. It bought 109.45 yen and traded at $0.7758 per Aussie and $0.7228 per kiwi.

Fed minutes, from an April meeting that predated the data surprise on inflation last week, are due on Wednesday and are the next market focus for clues on the Fed's thinking.

"We expect the minutes ... to reiterate that policymakers consider the pick up in inflation to be transitory," said Kim Mundy, a currency strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.

"The upshot is that we do not expect the (Fed) to consider tapering its asset purchases soon," she said. "The dollar is expected to resume its downtrend this week after last week's CPI-inspired boost."

Speculators increased their bets against the dollar last week, mostly by adding to bets on the euro and to a lesser extent sterling as Britain and Europe head toward recovery. 

Sterling GBP=D3 was perched near a two-and-a-half-month high on Monday, at $1.4085, as Britain reopens its economy after a four-month COVID lockdown. GBP/ 

Things are travelling in the opposite direction in Asia where some early leaders in taming the pandemic are now dealing with new outbreaks. Singapore and Taiwan have both tightened curbs as cases rise and the Taiwan dollar fell to a three-week low on Monday. 

The dollar crept up 0.1% against the Chinese yuan to trade at 6.4424 ahead of industrial output and retail sales figures due mid morning on Monday.

Elsewhere cryptocrrencies traded under pressure after another weekend bouncing around following tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk. Bitcoin hit its lowest since February on Sunday after Musk hinted at Tesla possibly selling its holdings. 

Bitcoin last traded 2% weaker at $45,302 and ether was 4% lower at $3,421.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook. Editing by Gerry Doyle) ((tom.westbrook@tr.com; +65 6973 8284;))

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