Dollar loses up gains as eyes turn to Fed

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HONG KONG: The dollar swung in Asian trade on Tuesday after a top Federal Reserve official indicated it would hike interest rates further this year, while traders await a speech from their boss Janet Yellen.

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The greenback surged to a one-month high in the morning, providing buying momentum for Japanese stocks, but gave up the gains as the day wore on.

Business was also subdued by concerns about the future of Donald Trump’s economic agenda as he struggles to push through a controversial health bill.

Expectations for another lift in US borrowing costs were fanned after the head of the New York Fed, Bill Dudley, suggested policymakers could widen their parameters when deciding the course for monetary policy.

And San Francisco Fed president John Williams warned the world’s top economy could overheat if rates were not lifted at the right time.

They follow Yellen’s increasingly hawkish tone and the bank’s plan to wind down its bond-buying programme to suck excess cash out of financial markets.

Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note that “Dudley expanded the Fed’s mandate in a way that suggests he sees the Fed with a broader remit than just inflation and unemployment”.

Yellen is due to speak in London later Tuesday before heading to a central bankers conference in Portugal, with her remarks pored over for clues about the Fed’s plans.

Toshiba sinks
The dollar jumped to 112.08 yen at one point Tuesday — its highest level since mid-May — but soon retreated below its late New York levels. However it is still above the 111.31 yen in Tokyo earlier Monday.

Japanese equities rose with the Nikkei ending 0.4 percent higher.

Toshiba fell 1.7 percent after a report in the respected Nikkei business daily said the form was set to sign a deal offloading its prized memory chip business to a consortium of US, South Korean and state-backed Japanese investors.

The conglomerate is desperately trying to raise money after suffering massive losses in its US nuclear operations that have raised doubts about its future.

Among other markets Hong Kong was down 0.1 percent in the afternoon, Shanghai closed 0.2 percent up and Sydney fell 0.1 percent.

Singapore put on 0.4 percent and Seoul was 0.1 percent higher, Wellington edged up and Manila rallied 0.8 percent.

In early European trade London was flat, while Frankfurt and Paris each slipped 0.3 percent.

The pound was barely moved after Prime Minister Theresa May’s ruling Conservative party signed a deal with Northern Ireland’s right-wing Democratic Unionists to form a government.

The move to maintain its shaky hold on power comes after May lost her majority in this month’s election, while ministers embark on tough Brexit talks with the European Union.

On oil markets both main contracts extended gains after last week’s battering to 10-month lows.

AFP

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