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U.S. dollar strengthens as Fed minutes signal higher rates

By Laura Matthews

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar strengthened on Wednesday after U.S. Federal Reserve meeting minutes showed policymakers are determined to use a slower pace of interest-rate hikes to tame persistently high inflation.

The greenback rose in late trading, sending sterling down 0.58% to $1.2036, while the euro fell 0.44% to $1.0600. The dollar index was up 0.40% at 104.57, easing off the high of 104.59 it reached earlier in the day.

"The Fed minutes were just released indicating that a few officials could have supported a 50-bps hike in the last meeting, though most backed the 25bps outcome. This is certainly supportive of the U.S. dollar, which is slightly stronger now against most other currencies," said Minh Trang, senior FX trader at Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, California. "The theme throughout February has been a bias towards higher rates, and these minutes are consistent with that perspective."

The minutes from the Fed's Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 meeting said most of the officials supported the quarter-point increase because a slower pace "would better allow them to assess the economy's progress" toward reducing inflation to their 2% target. But "a few" participants outright favored a larger 50- bps increase at the meeting, or said they "could have supported" it.

A series of data in recent weeks has been signaling strong business activity in the world's largest economy, a tight labor market, robust retail sales and higher monthly producer prices. The hotter-than-expected data has helped to keep the dollar stronger, but also added to concerns that the U.S. central bank will likely need to keep rates higher for longer if inflation is to reach the Fed's target.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on Wednesday pointed to the need to get inflation on a sustainable path toward that goal this year or risk a repeat of the 1970s, when interest rates had to be repeatedly ratcheted up.

The Fed's target range stands at 4.5% to 4.75%, having risen rapidly from 0% to 0.25% in March 2022. But Fed funds futures traders are now pricing the fed funds rate to reach 5.38% in July, and remaining above 5% all year.

"The USD along with assets market is reacting to the realization of investors that it may have been hasty to overlook the Fed's hawkish guidance at the start of this year," said Jane Foley, head of FX strategy at Rabobank in London. "Stronger-than-expected U.S. data releases since the start of this month have reinforced the Fed's messages about stronger for longer interest rates."

Against the yen, the dollar cut losses to trade little changed on the day at 134.95.


Currency bid prices at 3:54PM (2054 GMT)

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Previous Change


Dollar index 104.5400 104.1600 +0.38% 1.015% +104.5900 +104.0000

Euro/Dollar $1.0603 $1.0647 -0.41% -1.05% +$1.0663 +$1.0598

Dollar/Yen 134.9600 135.0150 -0.04% +2.93% +135.0550 +134.3750

Euro/Yen 143.11 143.77 -0.46% +2.00% +143.8800 +143.0500

Dollar/Swiss 0.9316 0.9280 +0.40% +0.76% +0.9318 +0.9255

Sterling/Dollar $1.2042 $1.2113 -0.58% -0.42% +$1.2135 +$1.2035

Dollar/Canadian 1.3558 1.3538 +0.16% +0.08% +1.3568 +1.3518

Aussie/Dollar $0.6803 $0.6856 -0.77% -0.19% +$0.6865 +$0.6795

Euro/Swiss 0.9876 0.9876 +0.00% -0.19% +0.9895 +0.9860

Euro/Sterling 0.8803 0.8786 +0.19% -0.46% +0.8822 +0.8785

NZ $0.6217 $0.6214 +0.07% -2.07% +$0.6251 +$0.6206


Dollar/Norway 10.3660 10.3100 +0.50% +5.58% +10.3730 +10.2845

Euro/Norway 10.9925 10.9748 +0.16% +4.75% +11.0032 +10.9587

Dollar/Sweden 10.4296 10.3819 +0.05% +0.21% +10.4364 +10.3254

Euro/Sweden 11.0591 11.0539 +0.05% -0.81% +11.0670 +11.0020

(Reporting by Laura Matthews; Additional reporting by Harry Robertson in London; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Will Dunham)