Dollar Continues to Strengthen as Odds For March Rate Hike Improve

Dollar Continues to Strengthen as Odds For March Rate Hike Improve

Dollar Continues to Strengthen as Odds For March Rate Hike Improve

The speech marks a shift from the cautious, dovish tone that Brainard has used in many of her recent speeches, and adds an important voice to the chorus of officials signalling rates may rise when the Fed next meets in mid-March.

Stock markets in Asia were also pulled lower, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan off nearly 0.3 per cent in early trade.

The Fed's employment goal has largely been met, Yellen said, and inflation is perking up.

Markets are increasingly open to the United States lifting interest rates this month after two Federal Reserve officials argued there was a strong case for rates to be higher.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX was down 0.3 percent, while France's CAC 40 was 0.6 percent higher.

The S&P 500 closed 0.6 per cent lower on Thursday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5 per cent.

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"Yesterday's speeches from Fed (policymakers) reinforced market suspicions that a rate hike at the Fed's March meeting is a live option", Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in Sydney, wrote in a note. The Fed's preferred inflation gauge showed that prices rose 1.9 percent over the 12 months that ended in January.

Yellen did not directly address the likely impact of theTrump administration's economic policies in her remarks.

USA gold futures fell 0.9 percent to $1,242.40.

"There's no question that animal spirits have been unleashed a bit post the election", he said in an interview on CNN International on Tuesday, before U.S. president Donald Trump spoke in Congress. Dudley's remarks added to a recent chorus of Fed speakers who have ratcheted up expectations of a March rate increase.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, climbed as much as 0.7 per cent to its highest levels in seven weeks, having also been helped by data showing robust U.S. consumer spending.

However, the Fed does have to react this year to stock markets, which are up over 13% since the election.

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Two-year U.S. Treasury yields jumped to 1.308 percent, the highest since August 2009, while the gap between them and their German equivalents increased to its widest since 2000.

"A rate increase is very much on the table for consideration at our March meeting", John Williams, Dudley's counterpart in San Francisco, also said at a lecture Tuesday.

The U.S. dollar bought 114.55 Japanese yen, higher than 113.69 yen of the previous session.

Japan's Nikkei soared 1.1 per cent, buoyed by a weaker yen.

In commodities, oil prices slipped on concerns about rising U.S. crude inventories.

Gold futures fell Friday as the dollar firmed, with the yellow metal on track to shed about 2% this week, the first weekly decline out of the last five. As for bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury, which trades inversely to prices, was little changed at 2.48%, though it has been on a gradual incline so far this year.

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