NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar gained against the yen and cut losses versus the euro on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve, in the minutes of its latest policy meeting, said the U.S. economy and its labor market remained strong, prompting some expectations of at least one more interest rate hike this year.
Before the release of the minutes, the dollar traded lower on the day.
The Fed also emphasized the need for patience when it comes to monetary policy, noting that pausing U.S. rate hikes last month posed little risk and plenty of benefit, giving U.S. central bank policymakers time to observe the effects of past rate hikes as they assess the effects of a global slowdown.
“The minutes look a bit more hawkish than the market was expecting,” said Tom di Galoma, managing director at Seaport Global Holdings in New York, with the Fed citing a strong economy and robust labor market.
“As a result, look for the Fed to raise rates at least one time in the summer or fall of this year,” he added.
In afternoon trading, the dollar rose 0.2 percent against the yen to 110.82 yen. The yen weakened earlier after Japanese exports in January fell the most in two years.
The euro, meanwhile, was little changed versus the greenback at $1.1346 after trading higher for most of the session.
The dollar, measured against a basket of currencies, was flat at 96.495, still below a two-month high hit last week.
Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington, thought the Fed stopped short of closing the door to a rate hike later this year if the downside risks to growth subside.
“I get the sense that rates are on hold until later this year. We conclude that the minutes are consistent with the Fed maintaining steady rate policy over coming meetings,” he added.
Analysts said weaker-than-expected U.S. retail sales and industrial production numbers published this month dented the dollar’s near-term outlook. According to MUFG, the data “challenged the view that the U.S. economy will continue to hold up relatively well while overseas economies are displaying more acute weakness”.
China’s yuan rose after Washington pressed Beijing to prevent a sharp weakening of its currency as part of any trade deal.
The yuan, a strong performer this year, earlier firmed to a three-week high on optimism the world’s two largest economies are near agreement on a trade deal.
(Graphic: China's yuan vs the dollar - tmsnrt.rs/2EkeLJl)
(Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 - tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh)
Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by David Gregorio and Jonathan Oatis