SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar was steady on Monday as investors digested a clutch of economic data released last week that stoked hopes of the Federal Reserve slowing the pace of its interest rate hikes.
Data on Friday showed U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by 223,000 jobs in December, while a 0.3% rise in average earnings was smaller than expected and less than the previous month’s 0.4%.
There were further signs of an economy slowing down, with the U.S. services industry activity contracting for the first time in more than 2-1/2 years in December amid weakening demand.
That led the dollar index, which measures the U.S. dollar against six major currencies, 1.15% lower on Friday. On Monday, the index, which gained 8% in 2022, was 0.01% higher at 103.720.
Investors have pinned their hopes on the U.S. central bank toning down its aggressive monetary tightening policy. Fed fund futures now imply around a 25% chance of a half-point hike in February, down from around 50% a month ago.
Analysts, however, point to the still tight labour market that is likely to concern Fed officials.
“December’s payrolls report shows the U.S. jobs market remains too tight to allow the Fed to step down to a 25 bps rate hike next month,” said Mansoor Mohi-uddin, chief economist at Bank of Singapore.
“We expect the Fed will stay more hawkish than the market anticipates, keeping us cautious on the near-term outlook for risk assets.”
With the next Fed meeting scheduled at the start of next month, investors will focus on the consumer price index data due on Thursday.
Citi said it expects another “softer” core CPI print with some upside risk but said core inflation could pick up again in early 2023.
“We continue to expect the Fed to hike by 50 basis points in February as there are still strong underlying inflationary pressures and further loosening in financial conditions would likely not be a desirable outcome.”
Elsewhere, the Brazilian real had yet to trade after supporters of far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro were arrested after invading the country’s Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.12% versus the U.S. currency to 131.94 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.2099, up 0.06% on the day, having gained 1.5% on Friday.
The euro was up 0.11% at $1.0656, after closing 1.17% higher on Friday.
The Australian dollar rose 0.17% versus the U.S. currency to $0.689, while the kiwi gained 0.02% to $0.635.
Currency bid prices at 0128 GMT
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Euro/Dollar $1.0660 $1.0645 +0.14% -0.51% +1.0668 +1.0640
Dollar/Yen 131.8650 132.0700 -0.13% +0.51% +132.2500 +131.7400
Euro/Yen 140.57 140.58 -0.01% +0.19% +140.8000 +140.4600
Dollar/Swiss 0.9275 0.9279 -0.03% +0.32% +0.9279 +0.9264
Sterling/Dollar 1.2104 1.2093 +0.12% +0.11% +1.2128 +1.2092
Dollar/Canadian 1.3432 1.3448 -0.10% -0.85% +1.3444 +1.3420
Aussie/Dollar 0.6891 0.6876 +0.28% +1.14% +0.6907 +0.6875
NZ 0.6348 0.6350 +0.01% +0.01% +0.6372 +0.6337
Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ
(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Singapore; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)