By Peter Nurse
The dollar climbed in early European trade Friday, reaching multi-week highs after a spate of strong economic data ahead of the monthly payrolls release raised the possibility of early Federal Reserve tightening.
At 2:55 AM ET (0755 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was up 0.1% at 90.605, reaching a new three-week high.
EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.2113, also a three-week low, while USD/JPY edged lower to 110.26. GBP/USD fell 0.1% to 1.4095, sharply below the three-year high of 1.4250 reached Tuesday, and the risk-sensitive AUD/USD was down 0.1% at 0.7653, after falling to its lowest since mid-April overnight.
The dollar has been under pressure for much of 2021 as traders have reacted to ultra-easy Fed policies, and the suggestions that these would stay in place for some time. However, this narrative is starting to change as the U.S. economic rebound gains in strength, throwing up the possibility of it driving policy tightening.
Thursday saw the release of some strong economic numbers – ADP private payrolls increased by 978,000 in May, way above forecasts of 650,000; weekly initial jobless claims fell below 400,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic; and the Institute for Supply Management’s services index rose to 64 last month, the highest on record, from 62.7 in April.
Even with these numbers detailing the obvious improvement in the U.S. economy, New York Fed President John Williams (NYSE:WMB) still said Thursday that now is not the time for the central bank to adjust its bond-buying program, although he added that it makes sense for the policy makers to be talking through options for the future.
The next focus of the market will come later in the day when U.S. nonfarm payrolls data is published at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT).
“The U.S. jobs report will provide an essential temperature check, not only on the health of the U.S. economy but also on supply-led inflationary pressures,” said analysts at investment management firm Brooks Macdonald.
The expectation, according to Investing.com, is for about 650,000 jobs to have been added in May, although that number may well have started climbing after Thursday’s releases.
That said, traders are wary of getting too confident about a strong number after April’s figure, which came in at 266,000 versus 978,000 expected.
“Of course, while the focus will be on May’s numbers, Friday’s data release also gives the opportunity to revise that April figure,” Brooks Macdonald added.
Elsewhere, USD/TRY rose 0.2% to 8.7102, with the lira weakening once more after Thursday’s surprise drop in inflation likely increased the pressure on Governor Sahap Kavcioglu to bow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vocal desire for lower interest rates.
Consumer prices increased an annual 16.6% in May, down from 17.1% the previous month, and below the expected acceleration to 17.3%.