Yellen hints at higher interest rates

The Yellen rate-rise comments propelled the US dollar higher in double-quick time overnight, and even a winding back of the remarks later did not dent the greenback rally. The dollar index rose 0.35% to 91.28, although short-term profit-taking has pushed it back to 91.18 in Asia. In the bigger picture, the dollar index is bouncing noisily around in a roughly 90.50 to 91.50 range. A break of one of those levels is needed to signal the US dollar’s next directional move. Although the US dollar is nearer to the topside of its range, at least four Fed Governors speak tonight by my counting. Most are likely to be in damage control mode and uber dovish, meaning the US dollar rally could just as easily be a false dawn.

EUR/USD retreated 0.40% to 1.2015 overnight, just above important support at 1.2000. However, with the dollar index in mind, EUR/USD needs to close well below 1.2000 to signal further losses and not a bear trap. Elsewhere, GBP/USD and USD/JPY and USD/CHF continued to mark time in relatively narrow ranges as the street awaits heavyweight US data.

As proxies for market risk sentiment, both the Australian and New Zealand dollars fell by 0.70% overnight to 0.7710 and 0.7145, respectively. Both have rallied in Asia, with AUD/USD rising 0.35% to 0.7735 on strong banking earnings and data, and NZD/USD rising 0.40% to 0.7170 on the strong employment report. Like the other majors, both Australasians are trading in choppy 100 point ranges the past fortnight, awaiting their next directional move. A question that will hopefully be answered on Friday night.

Asian currencies retreated sharply in overnight trading after the bout of Yellen-induced US dollar strength. With China away today, activity is muted once again, with regional currencies modestly retracing the overnight movements. Activity is unlikely to pick up until China returns tomorrow, and we see the PBOC USD/CNY fixing and the PBOC’s actions in the repo market.