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Dollar marooned as investors shrug off inflation spike

Dollar marooned as investors shrug off inflation spike

By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – After a week of anxious waiting, markets got the high U.S. inflation number they dreaded, shrugged it off and moved on – leaving the U.S. dollar under pressure and most majors stuck in ranges.

Early in the Asia session the greenback nursed small losses, as traders figured there were enough one-offs in last month’s 0.6% rise in consumer prices to support the Federal Reserve’s insistence that inflation was likely to be transitory.

The dollar bought 109.37 yen and was headed for a small weekly loss. It was also on track for modest weekly losses on the Aussie dollar and British pound, last trading at $0.7748 per Aussie and $1.4171 per pound.

A dovish commitment from the European Central Bank to stick with its elevated tempo of bond buying held the euro in check at $1.2175.

“What we’re seeing is a market that believes in the Fed,” said Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone in Melbourne, as investors temper worries that the strong recovery in the United States prompts early rate hikes.

“We’re going to get tapering,” he said. “But it’s going to get done a such a snail’s pace.”

The data overnight showed U.S. consumer prices up 5% year-on-year, the sharpest rise in more than a dozen years and core inflation surging 0.7% in a month.

But hefty contributions from short-term rises in airline ticket prices and used cars helped convince traders it was not going to drive interest rates higher any time soon.

“It basically fit the Fed script, that we’d get a burst but it’s going to be temporary,” said Westpac currency analyst Imre Speizer.

“This report is consistent with that, it doesn’t argue against it. I think the market needed something that argued against it to push the U.S. dollar higher.”

The U.S. dollar index fell slightly after the inflation figures were published and last sat at 90.041, more or less flat for the week.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries actually rallied to a three-month high in the wake of CPI, as short sellers capitulated, and quit bets on rising yields.

Focus now turns to the Fed’s meeting next week, although traders now say that there may not be much of a shift in rhetoric which has played down the need to taper stimulus.

A plan for reducing bond buying is expected to be announced in August or September a Reuters poll of economists found, but it isn’t forecast to begin until next year.

Ahead of the onshore trading band fix, China’s yuan was steady at 6.3853 per dollar offshore.

The South Korean won traded firmly after the central bank governor hinted at normalising policy, in an advance copy of a speech to be delivered later on Friday.

Cryptocurrencies looked to close out the week steady, with bitcoin seemingly well supported about $35,000 despite more talk of global regulatory scrutiny.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook.; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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