US Dollar looking for direction as slew of Federal Reserve officials are set to speak

Source Fxstreet
May 21, 2024 11:00
  • The US Dollar trades mixed on Monday with no clear direction in the European session. 
  • The Greenback is not soaring despite the risk-off sentiment in markets. 
  • The US Dollar Index keeps hovering around 104.50 waiting for a fresh catalyst. 

The US Dollar (USD) is afloat on Tuesday, holding around 104.50 as measured by the US Dollar Index (DXY), with no clear direction visible for the week after the standstill performance on Monday. Markets are a bit all over the place with recent polls indicating former US President Donald Trump would win if elections were held today, while equities are sliding lower ahead of Nvidia earnings later on the day. Add another fresh set of Fed speakers to the mix, and today’s trading could get bumpy. 

On the economic data front, no first-tier indicators are scheduled for today, and the focus will be, as mentioned above, on the Federal Reserve (Fed). On Monday, markets already heard from many Fed members, though the message was very unified in line that the Fed could still do whatever it considered appropriate to tame inflationary pressures. Of course, markets are not buying into the idea that another rate hike is on the horizon, though a “steady for a bit longer” stance is now fully priced in. 

Daily digest market movers: Fed members again

  • The US Redbook Index for the week ending May 17 is due at 12:55 GMT. The previous number was 6.3%.
  • No less than seven Fed members are due to speak:
    • At 13:00 GMT, Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller delivers a speech about the US economic outlook at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    • At the same time, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Thomas Barkin delivers opening remarks at the bank's conference "Investing in Rural America".
    • Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams delivers opening remarks at the 2024 Governance and Cultural Reform Conference at 13:05 GMT.
    • Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr will discuss the economy, lessons learned from the 2023 liquidity crisis, and regional banking supervision in a fireside chat at the 2024 Regional State Member Bank Director and Executive Conference at 14:45 GMT.
    • Near 23:00 GMT, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic moderates a keynote speech at the Atlanta Fed's Financial Market Conference dinner. He will be joined by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Susan Collins and Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester.
  • Equities are on the back foot, with Asian equities erasing the positive vibe from Monday. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index trades 2% lower near its closing bell, while European indices are struggling around 0.50% down. US equity futures are still looking for direction ahead of the US opening bell.
  • The CME Fedwatch Tool suggests a 96.4% probability that June will still see no change to the Federal Reserve's fed fund rate. Odds have changed for September, with the tool showing a 49.6% chance that rates will be 25 basis points lower than current levels.
  • The benchmark 10-year US Treasury Note trades around 4.31%, in the middle of this week's range. 

US Dollar Index Technical Analysis: Can Fed officials support the DXY

The US Dollar Index (DXY) trades mixed on Tuesday, with markets holding their breath while waiting for Nvidia earnings later in the day. The fact that an earnings release of a single stock is the most important event shows that there are no big catalysts to deliver some sense of direction for markets. However, it is clear that since some weeks ago, markets have been happy again to head into risk-on, which amasses in an easing US Dollar overall. 

On the upside, the DXY Index is already near a chunky resistance level. The first level to recover is the 55-day Simple Moving Average (SMA) at 104.72. Further up, the following levels to consider are 105.12 and 105.52. 

On the downside, the 100-day SMA around 104.20 is the last man supporting the decline. Once that level snaps, an air pocket is placed between 104.11 and 103.00. Should the US Dollar decline persist, the low of March at 102.35 and the low from December at 100.62 are levels to consider.  

US Dollar FAQs

The US Dollar (USD) is the official currency of the United States of America, and the ‘de facto’ currency of a significant number of other countries where it is found in circulation alongside local notes. It is the most heavily traded currency in the world, accounting for over 88% of all global foreign exchange turnover, or an average of $6.6 trillion in transactions per day, according to data from 2022. Following the second world war, the USD took over from the British Pound as the world’s reserve currency. For most of its history, the US Dollar was backed by Gold, until the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971 when the Gold Standard went away.

The most important single factor impacting on the value of the US Dollar is monetary policy, which is shaped by the Federal Reserve (Fed). The Fed has two mandates: to achieve price stability (control inflation) and foster full employment. Its primary tool to achieve these two goals is by adjusting interest rates. When prices are rising too quickly and inflation is above the Fed’s 2% target, the Fed will raise rates, which helps the USD value. When inflation falls below 2% or the Unemployment Rate is too high, the Fed may lower interest rates, which weighs on the Greenback.

In extreme situations, the Federal Reserve can also print more Dollars and enact quantitative easing (QE). QE is the process by which the Fed substantially increases the flow of credit in a stuck financial system. It is a non-standard policy measure used when credit has dried up because banks will not lend to each other (out of the fear of counterparty default). It is a last resort when simply lowering interest rates is unlikely to achieve the necessary result. It was the Fed’s weapon of choice to combat the credit crunch that occurred during the Great Financial Crisis in 2008. It involves the Fed printing more Dollars and using them to buy US government bonds predominantly from financial institutions. QE usually leads to a weaker US Dollar.

Quantitative tightening (QT) is the reverse process whereby the Federal Reserve stops buying bonds from financial institutions and does not reinvest the principal from the bonds it holds maturing in new purchases. It is usually positive for the US Dollar.

 

Disclaimer: For information purposes only. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
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