By Tom Westbrook
SYDNEY (Reuters) – The dollar was firm on Wednesday after a rip higher in U.S. yields vaulted it up sharply on the euro overnight, putting it back above support levels that have held for the past few months in anticipation of rising U.S. interest rates.
The euro fell about 0.7% on Tuesday, its sharpest daily drop in a month, and is back on its 50-day moving average at $1.1323. Two-year Treasury yields have leapt 15 basis points over two sessions to cross 1% and benchmark 10-year yields stand at a two-year high of 1.8842%. [US/]
The dollar has also regained support levels against the Australian and New Zealand dollars and held sterling below its 200-day moving average.
The U.S. Federal Reserve meets to set policy next week and traders are growing anxious about another hawkish surprise.
“A lot of (Fed) officials left us with hawkish impressions right before going quiet (ahead of the meeting),” NatWest markets’ strategist Jan Nevrusi said
“After (Tuesday’s) price action, there is slightly more than one hike priced in for the March meeting, and going into next week, I would imagine it oscillates within the lower end of the 25-50 basis point range.”
Fed funds futures are pricing three more hikes in 2022. Analysts say dollar strength could extend if traders start expecting rates to rise not just faster but further as well.
“We expect the U.S. rate rethink – and this latest shift higher in yields reflects a push higher in the implied terminal rate, rather than just a faster pace of increases initially – to support the dollar in the first half of the year,” Societe Generale (OTC:SCGLY) strategist Kit Juckes said.
Moves in the U.S. bond market unsettled equity investors, underpinning the safe-haven yen, which has held at 114.67 to the dollar.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.5% on Tuesday and held that gain at 95.768 on Wednesday.
Traders also have a wary eye on a delicate situation in Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will seek to defuse a crisis with Moscow when he meets Russia’s foreign minister in Geneva this week.
The Australian dollar held below its 50-day moving average at $0.7187. It has struggled to break resistance just below 73 cents. The kiwi was pinned at $0.6771.
Sterling has taken a knock in recent sessions but will be in focus later on Wednesday when British inflation figures are due.
Annual headline inflation is seen hitting an almost decade-high 5.2% and a surprise could trigger further bets on Bank of England rate hikes and renew the pound’s rally.
It last sat at $1.3591.