Asia FX muted as PCE data looms, yen boosted by inflation
By Ambar Warrick
Investing.com -- Most Asian currencies kept to a tight range on Friday in anticipation of the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, while the Japanese yen rose as higher-than-expected Tokyo inflation readings fed into expectations for more hawkish moves by the Bank of Japan.
The yen rose 0.2% against the dollar and was among the best-performing regional currencies for the day, as data showed inflation in Japan’s capital rose to a new 41-year high in December. The reading heralds a similar rise in countrywide inflation, and is likely to invite more hawkish measures from the BOJ in the coming months.
While the central bank ducked expectations for more monetary tightening measures during its January meeting, markets expect rising inflation to eventually force the BOJ’s hand. Such a scenario is positive for the yen, which was battered by a growing rift between local and U.S. interest rates in 2022.
Broader Asian currencies kept to a tight range as overnight data showed that the U.S. economy grew more than expected in the fourth quarter. While the reading helped ease concerns over an immediate recession, it also showed that the Federal Reserve has more economic headroom to hike interest rates.
Focus is now squarely on personal consumption expenditures inflation data due later on Friday, which is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge. While the reading is expected to have eased in December from the prior month, it is still expected to remain well above the Fed’s 2% annual target.
The dollar recovered some lost ground against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index and dollar index futures rising 0.1% each in Asian trade.
The greenback will be closely watched in the run-up to a Fed meeting next week. While the central bank is widely expected to hike interest rates by 25 basis points , its signals on future rate hikes will be closely watched.
Focus also turns to the reopening of Chinese markets on Monday after a week-long holiday, with a slew of economic readings from the country also due next week. The Chinese yuan fell 0.3% in offshore trade, but was set to gain 0.4% this week.
China-focused currencies such as the Taiwan dollar fell 0.3% on Friday, while the Singapore dollar and the Thai baht fell 0.2% and 0.3% each.
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