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Dollar near 3-week low as Fed’s Powell less hawkish than feared

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TOKYO — The U.S. dollar languished near a three-week low to major peers on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell assuaged trader worries about continued aggressive monetary tightening.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six counterparts, slid overnight after the Fed raised the benchmark rate by an as-expected 75 basis points to bring it closer to neutral, while noting that although the labor market remains strong, other economic indicators have softened.

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Powell said “another unusually large” rate increase could be appropriate at the Fed’s next meeting, but said the central bank’s decisions would be data-dependent and it would not give forward guidance. He also said he didn’t believe the economy was in recession, based on the strength of employment.

“The dollar lost a little bit of altitude because I think the market was bracing for the potential of Fed chair Powell to sound a little bit more hawkish,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at National Australia Bank.

“The markets sort of focused on his comments around the fact that we are getting very close to neutral,” Catril said. “There’s potential now to slow down the pace of hikes, and the market likes that.”

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The dollar index was slightly higher at 106.54 in early Asian trading after dropping 0.59% overnight. Below 106.1 would be the lowest since July 5.

The two-year Treasury yield, which is especially sensitive to policy expectations, sagged near its lowest level this week at 2.9878%, adding further weight on the dollar.

It remained about 23 basis points above the 10-year yield though, widely seen as signaling a looming downturn.

Whether the U.S. economy meets the definition of a technical recession by posting two straight quarters of contraction will be known later on Thursday with the release of GDP figures, which will be the market’s next major focus.

Japan’s currency, which is extremely sensitive to U.S. yields, gained on Thursday. One dollar bought 136.325 yen , which was 0.2% less than Wednesday.

The euro slipped 0.08% to $1.0191, but following a 0.82% jump overnight.

Sterling was 0.09% lower at $1.2146, after rallying 1.06% on Wednesday.

Cryptocurrency bitcoin eased 0.58% to $22,836.57, giving up a bit of its more than 8% surge the previous session.

(Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)



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