Asian currencies were largely unchanged on Monday, while the dollar remained steady, with investors keeping a close eye on monetary policy signals from the Federal Reserve.
The region’s currencies remained subdued after the hotter-than-expected U.S. inflation data last week, which reignited fears of the Fed tightening its monetary policy.
The dollar index and dollar index futures gained less than 0.1%, hovering near their six-week highs, while regional currencies largely remained flat.
This week, market participants are focusing on the minutes of the Fed’s February meeting, which will be released on Wednesday, for insights into the central bank’s hawkish rhetoric. Several Fed officials, including Atlanta Fed President Ralph Bostic and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, are also scheduled to speak this week.
The robust inflation data and a strong job market signal that the Fed has enough economic headroom to continue to raise rates, leading to expectations of higher U.S. interest rates in the near term. However, there is uncertainty about the extent to which U.S. rates may increase, with some analysts suggesting that rates could surpass 6% this year.
Japan’s monetary policy is also in focus this week, with the yen showing little movement on Monday. Investors are looking ahead to Kazuo Ueda’s testimony on Friday, who is the newly nominated head of the Bank of Japan. The testimony is expected to provide more clarity on the Bank’s ultra-loose stance.
The Chinese yuan was flat on Monday after the People’s Bank kept its benchmark lending rates unchanged for the sixth straight month, signaling Beijing’s intention to maintain an accommodative policy to support economic growth as the country emerges from three years of COVID lockdowns.
A resurgence in China bodes well for Asian markets that rely on the country as a trading destination, although the latest economic data suggests that the country’s recovery is mixed.
Southeast Asian currencies strengthened on Monday, but were still recovering from steep losses from the previous week. The Philippine peso led the gains, rising 0.7%.
Overall, while Asian currencies were little changed on Monday, the market is keeping a watchful eye on upcoming central bank signals and economic data, which could provide insight into future market movements.