Dollar hands back some overnight gains; sterling down after weak retail sales

Dollar hands back some overnight gains; sterling down after weak retail sales

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By Peter Nurse - The U.S. dollar retreated in early European trade Friday, handing back some of the previous session’s strong gains, as traders digest the implications of monetary tightening at a series of senior central banks.

At 03:25 ET (08:25 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, fell 0.1% to 104.123, after the 0.9% surge overnight, its biggest since late September.

A series of European central banks followed the Federal Reserve’s lead on Thursday, with the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Swiss National Bank, among others, lifting interest rates by 50 basis points.

Additionally, with inflation remaining highly elevated, the central banks signaled there would be more interest rate hikes ahead.

In particular, ECB President Christine Lagarde said that, based on current data, she anticipated another 50 basis-point rise at the ECB's next meeting on Feb 2 "and possibly at the one after that, and possibly thereafter".

This suggests that economic pain will continue into 2023, and thus the safe-haven dollar received a boost on fears that the global economy would fall into a recession next year.

This ‘risk-off’ mood has been slightly diluted during Friday’s session, although moves have been limited with traders awaiting the release of Eurozone PMI activity data later in the session.

EUR/USD rose 0.1% to 1.0631, rebounding slightly after dropping 0.5% on Thursday.

Investment bank JPMorgan lifted its forecast on Thursday for how high Eurozone interest rates will go, to 3.25% from 2.50%, after the European Central Bank meeting.

GBP/USD dropped 0.1% to 1.2164, after falling 2% the previous day, its biggest drop since Nov. 3. 

Sterling’s recovery was stymied by the latest U.K. retail sales data, which showed sales dropped for the third time in four months in November, falling 0.4% from October and down 5.9% on the year.

USD/JPY fell 0.5% to 137.09, helped by data showing that overall business activity in the country managed to expand in December, with strength in the services sector offsetting a pronounced slowdown in manufacturing.

The risk-sensitive AUD/USD fell 0.1% to 0.6694, stabilizing after slumping 2.4% overnight, its biggest one-day drop since March 2020, while USD/CNY edged lower to 6.9709, with traders torn between optimism over an eventual economic reopening in the country and concern over an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases.