By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar weakened against a basket of major currencies on Monday, as investors weighed the implications of a rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve in an economy that may be on the cusp of a recession.
The central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates by 75 basis points at the conclusion of its policy meeting on Wednesday. A hike of that magnitude would effectively close out pandemic-era support for the economy.
“Pre-fed caution is keeping the dollar off its highs, the market is going to be eager to see if the run of softer data has in any way changed the Fed’s hawkish rate path,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington, DC.
“The economy continues to show pretty solid underlying momentum but at the same time, high inflation, rising interest rates, they are certainly having an impact on the economy.”
Recent data has shown signs of an economic slowdown while inflation remains stubbornly high, with claims for jobless benefits rising to its highest in eight months last week and regional manufacturing gauges slumping.
Later in the week, investors will also eye the advance reading for second-quarter gross domestic product and personal consumption expenditures, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure.
U.S. economic growth is slowing and inflation is “way too high”, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Sunday.
The dollar index fell 0.159% at 106.520, with the euro up 0.05% to $1.0215.
Last week, the greenback saw its biggest weekly percentage decline in two months, as a rally in equities helped dent the appeal of the safe-haven dollar and a 50 basis point rate hike by the European Central Bank helped buoy the euro to a two-week high. On Monday, Latvian central bank governor Martins Kazaks said in an interview with Bloomberg News that the ECB may not be done with big rate hikes.
U.S. equities were modestly higher on Monday with a slew of corporate earnings on deck for the week. Investors are eyeing the earnings season for signs of a slowdown in the economy as well as the impact of a strong dollar on profits.
Of the 107 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Monday morning, 74.8% have topped analyst expectations, below the 81% beat rate over the past four quarters, but above the 66% rate since 1994, per Refinitiv data. Earnings growth is currently estimated to be 6.1%, up from 5.6% at the start of July.
The Ifo business sentiment survey showed on Monday that business morale in Germany fell more than expected in July to its lowest in more than two years.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.37% versus the greenback at 136.55 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.203, up 0.23% on the day.
British industrial output grew at the slowest pace in over a year in the three months to July, but there are tentative signs that some challenges around inflation and investment are easing, a Confederation of British Industry survey showed on Monday.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, editing by Ed Osmond)