US Dollar slides lower with markets reversing safe have inflows on Middle Eastern tensions

  • The US Dollar eases a touch despite safe-haven support on early Friday trading. 
  • Tensions in the Middle East flared up again with reports of Israel attacking an Iranian military base. 
  • The US Dollar Index snaps below 106.00, though pressure is mounting for a break below it. 

The US Dollar Index (DXY), which tracks the US Dollar against a basket of six major currencies, eases and gives up earlier gains driven by the reports of the attack from Israel on Iran, confirmed by US officials. While markets are awaiting any comments or headlines out of Iran, some easing is taking place in safe-haven assets after earlier big inflows in the Greenback, the Japanese Yen (JPY) and the Swiss Franc (CHF). Any harsh rhetoric from Iran might cause a resurgence in the safe-haven demand and further sell-off in risk assets.

On the economic data front, a very thin calendar on Friday, with only Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Austan Goolsbee set to speak at a Conference in Chicago. For the main part of the day, markets will be focused on any headline coming out of the Middle East. In terms of rate projections, should Oil prices remain elevated for months to come, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) might have an issue with inflation accelerating because of the rising energy component. 

Daily digest market movers: Auto-pilot Friday

  • Tensions flared up in the Middle East after Israel targeted an Iranian military airforce base and triggered a shock across the markets in several asset classes, though some easing is taking place: 
    • Equities were slumping in the red, though off the lows now.
    • Bonds are still in demanded, with yields declining.
    • Both the Greenback, the Swiss Franc and the Japanese Yen saw substantial inflows, though are starting to see outlflow now.
    • In the commodity space, both Brent and Crude are trading in the red after earlier spiking higher. 
  • De-escalation is taking place with markets seeing the attack only as small, while Iran said it sees no need to retaliate now. 
  • At 14:30 GMT, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Austan Goolsbee participates in a moderated Q&A at the Association for Business Journalists 2024 SABEW Annual Conference in Chicago.
  • Surprise comments from European Central Bank (ECB) member Edward Scicluna, who said that the ECB should even consider a 50 basis point cut at its next meeting as inflation is set to undershoot 2%.
  • Equity markets are not doing well on the back of the escalation in the Middle East and trade in the red across the board. However, European and US equity futures are off their lows in the first part of European trading hours. 
  • According to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool, expectations are further cementing a no-change to the Fed’s monetary policy in June.
  • The benchmark 10-year US Treasury Note trades around 4.60%, rather stable after a brief surge to 4.63% earlier on  Friday. 

US Dollar Index Technical Analysis: Assess on Monday

The US Dollar Index (DXY) might be facing some selling pressure despite the current tensions escalating in the Middle East. This sounds contradictory but makes sense, seeing that bond prices are jumping higher, pushing yields lower and both the Japanese Yen and the Swiss Franc outpacing the Greenback in terms of inflows in the race to safe havens. This paints a very mixed picture, and with markets already having priced in the events from this morning, the US Dollar could be set to ease a touch, with the DXY possibly briefly sliding back below 106.00 by the close on Friday. 

On the upside, the fresh Tuesday’s high at 106.52 is the level to beat. Further up and above the 107.00 round level, the DXY Index could meet resistance at 107.35, the October 3 high. 

On the downside, the first important level is 105.88, a pivotal level since March 2023. Further down, 105.12 and 104.60 should also act as support ahead of the region with both the 55-day and the 200-day Simple Moving Averages (SMAs) at 104.17 and 103.91, respectively.

Central banks FAQs

Central Banks have a key mandate which is making sure that there is price stability in a country or region. Economies are constantly facing inflation or deflation when prices for certain goods and services are fluctuating. Constant rising prices for the same goods means inflation, constant lowered prices for the same goods means deflation. It is the task of the central bank to keep the demand in line by tweaking its policy rate. For the biggest central banks like the US Federal Reserve (Fed), the European Central Bank (ECB) or the Bank of England (BoE), the mandate is to keep inflation close to 2%.

A central bank has one important tool at its disposal to get inflation higher or lower, and that is by tweaking its benchmark policy rate, commonly known as interest rate. On pre-communicated moments, the central bank will issue a statement with its policy rate and provide additional reasoning on why it is either remaining or changing (cutting or hiking) it. Local banks will adjust their savings and lending rates accordingly, which in turn will make it either harder or easier for people to earn on their savings or for companies to take out loans and make investments in their businesses. When the central bank hikes interest rates substantially, this is called monetary tightening. When it is cutting its benchmark rate, it is called monetary easing.

A central bank is often politically independent. Members of the central bank policy board are passing through a series of panels and hearings before being appointed to a policy board seat. Each member in that board often has a certain conviction on how the central bank should control inflation and the subsequent monetary policy. Members that want a very loose monetary policy, with low rates and cheap lending, to boost the economy substantially while being content to see inflation slightly above 2%, are called ‘doves’. Members that rather want to see higher rates to reward savings and want to keep a lit on inflation at all time are called ‘hawks’ and will not rest until inflation is at or just below 2%.

Normally, there is a chairman or president who leads each meeting, needs to create a consensus between the hawks or doves and has his or her final say when it would come down to a vote split to avoid a 50-50 tie on whether the current policy should be adjusted. The chairman will deliver speeches which often can be followed live, where the current monetary stance and outlook is being communicated. A central bank will try to push forward its monetary policy without triggering violent swings in rates, equities, or its currency. All members of the central bank will channel their stance toward the markets in advance of a policy meeting event. A few days before a policy meeting takes place until the new policy has been communicated, members are forbidden to talk publicly. This is called the blackout period.

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