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Dollar poised for weekly losses after Fed disappoints bulls
Source: Reuters - 3/17/2017 9:53:50 AM
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The dollar licked its wounds in Asian trading on Friday, wallowing at five-week lows against a currency basket and on track for weekly losses after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled fewer interest rate hikes than some investors had expected.

Although the U.S. central bank delivered an interest rate increase on Wednesday as widely expected, it did not alter its original forecast for two more rate increases this year. That disappointed dollar bulls who had hoped for hints of a possible fourth hike in 2017.

The dollar index .DXY, which gauges the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, edged down 0.1 percent to 100.25, plumbing its lowest level since Feb. 9 and down 1 percent for the week.

Against the yen, the dollar was flat on the day at 113.35 JPY=, down 1.3 percent for the week ahead of a Tokyo public holiday on Monday.

The yen gained despite sharply diverging monetary policy expectations. On Thursday, the Bank of Japan held its policy steady as expected and maintained a pledge to cap long-term interest rates around zero.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said an uptick in inflation toward 1 percent won't immediately trigger an interest rate hike, signaling that Japan will stick to its ultra-easy policy even as other major economies eye withdrawing stimulus.

Kuroda, who heads to Germany for a Group of 20 finance leaders' meeting this weekend, shrugged off market speculation the BOJ may raise its target on bond yields later this year, when consumer inflation is expected to approach 1 percent due mostly to a rebound in fuel costs and rising import prices from a weak yen.

"The Fed is going to continue to continue to hike rates, so we don't see any reason to aggressively buy the yen more," said Masashi Murata, senior strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo.

U.S. data on Thursday underscored the U.S. economy's solid underpinnings. Homebuilding increased 3.0 percent last month and jobless claims fell in the latest week.

The recently resurgent euro added 0.1 percent to $1.0770 EUR=, up 0.9 percent for a week in which Dutch center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte fended off an election challenge from anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders. Concerns about the election outcome had pressured the single currency.

The European Central Bank will decide at a later time whether to raise interest rates before or after ending its bond purchase program, ECB policymaker Ewald Nowotny told a newspaper on Thursday.

Sterling edged down 0.1 percent to $1.2349 GBP=D3 after hitting a two-week high of $1.2373 overnight, after the Bank of England kept rates on hold but gave a handful of hints in voting results and its minutes that it might raise them soon.

The pound was up 1.5 percent for the week, after outgoing BoE policymaker Kristin Forbes unexpectedly voted for a rise in interest rates, and others signaled it would not take much for them to follow suit.
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