Dollar stems losses, sterling waits for key BoE meet

By Alun John

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The dollar halted its slide on Thursday after losing ground the day before when the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would not rush to raise interest rates, while the pound was on edge ahead of a closely watched Bank of England meeting.

Sterling, which had initially led the gains on the dollar after the Fed was last at $1.3660, down from its week high of $1.3698 hit in early Asian hours Thursday.

The euro, which had also climbed on Wednesday, gave up some of its gains and stood at $1.15932.

The two accounted for many of the moves of the dollar index which rose 0.15% on Thursday after Wednesday’s 0.25% fall.

Moves in the British currency were also capped by caution ahead of a Bank of England meeting at which could it could become the first of the world’s big central banks to raise rates since the coronavirus pandemic.

Markets are pricing in a rate rise from the BoE, and a steady pace of rises in 2022, but economists polled by Reuters said it was too close to call, as Britain, like much of the world grapples with balancing rate rises to combat inflation with worries about the growth outlook.

Minutes of BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting are due at 12.00 GMT.

“The key driver to the G10 currency market is the pace and scale of monetary policy tightening between the G10 central banks,” said Jack Siu of Credit Suisse. “We think the Bank of England will experience a bigger test stemming from the recent inflation uptick. But UK policy rate expectations have gone too far, and do not warrant assuming much further support to the GBP at this level, we expect GBP/USD to remain in a range.”

Overnight the Fed announced a $15 billion monthly cut to its $120 billion in monthly purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, but chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. central bank would be “patient” in deciding when to raise its benchmark overnight interest rate from near zero levels.

“Powell hits the snooze bar,” said analysts at Bank of America, in their summary of Fed’s meeting.

Elsewhere, the yen stayed soft, with one dollar at 114.14 yen within a good leap of the dollar’s multiyear high of 114.69 yen hit last month.

The Aussie dollar climbed slightly to $0.7453, helped by the softer dollar, but has more work to do to recover from its 1.2% fall on Tuesday after the Reserve Bank of Australia adopted a dovish tone at its key meet.

In the world of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin was around $62,750 having largely traded sideways since it hit its all time high of $67,000 last month. Ether, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, dropped 0.5% to $4,581, retreating from its record high hit the day before.

(Reporting by Alun John. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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