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Dollar dips as Fed’s Powell set to testify for second day

The dollar dipped against the euro on Wednesday before Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is due to testify before Congress for a second day, after indicating on Tuesday that the U.S. central bank is getting closer to cutting interest rates.

Powell acknowledged the cooling labor market and improving inflation, and noted that “we now face two-sided risks” in the economy.

But he also said that a rate cut is not appropriate until the Fed gains “greater confidence” that inflation is headed toward the 2% target.

“Powell took a relatively cautious approach,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Corpay in Toronto. “But there were enough dovish hints within his narrative to help risk appetite improve in markets.”

“The idea that the labor market is no longer generating the inflation pressure that the U.S. economy was struggling with, and that the Fed was trying to counteract, is helping to reduce the likelihood of further rate hikes and also put a September rate cut more firmly on the table,” Schamotta said.

Powell is expected to largely repeat his comments on Wednesday.

Traders now have around 77% odds for a rate cut by September, up from 73% a day earlier, with a second cut also seen likely by December, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.

The dollar index , which measures the U.S. currency against six others including the euro and yen, was last down 0.05% at 105.07.

Consumer price inflation data for June due on Thursday is the next major U.S. economic release that could influence Fed policy. It is expected to show that headline prices rose 0.1% on the month, while core prices gained 0.2%. That would put annual gains at 3.1% and 3.4%, respectively. (USCPI=ECI), opens new tab, (USCPF=ECI), opens new tab

The euro gained 0.09% to $1.082 as investors came to terms with a hung parliament in France.

The unexpected outcome of the snap election, in which the left benefited from a surprise surge but no group won an absolute majority, has plunged France into uncertainty, with no obvious path to a stable government.

The dollar strengthened 0.11% to 161.48 Japanese yen , getting closer to a 38-year high of 161.96 reached last week.

Many Japanese private banks who met with the Bank of Japan on Tuesday called for the central bank to halve its monthly bond purchases by around 2026, two officials with direct knowledge of the deliberations told Reuters.

The findings will be taken into account when the BOJ finalizes its taper plan at its policy meeting on July 30-31.

Sterling strengthened 0.16% to $1.2804.

Meanwhile, the kiwi dropped after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand opened the door to possible rate cuts should inflation slow as expected.

The RBNZ, which held rates steady as widely expected, expressed confidence that inflation would return to its target band this year, spurring bets for early policy easing.

At the previous meeting in May, policymakers had flagged the potential for an additional rate hike.

The New Zealand currency was last down 0.73% versus the greenback at $0.6078.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin gained 0.46% to $58,180.
Source: Reuters (Reporting By Karen Brettell; Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper and Kevin Buckland)

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