By Harry Robertson and Brigid Riley
LONDON/TOKYO, Jan 12 (Reuters) – The dollar rose on Friday as traders weighed an ambiguous U.S. inflation report and tensions in the Middle East, where the United States and Britain launched air and sea strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen.
The U.S. dollar index =USD, which tracks the currency against six major peers, was up 0.26% at 102.48 on Friday. It has risen around 1.1% this month as U.S. data has come in stronger than expected, after falling 2% in 2023.
U.S. consumer prices increased in December as rents continued to rise, edging 0.3% higher for the month and up an annual 3.4%, versus economists’ forecast for a 0.2% and 3.2% rise respectively. The dollar climbed after the data but ended Thursday roughly flat.
The euro EUR=EBS was down 0.2% at $1.0949 on Friday. It has fallen around 0.8% so far in 2024 after rising 3% last year.
Traders are pricing in a 68% chance for the Fed’s first 25 basis-point cut to come in March, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool, up from 65% on Thursday despite the stronger inflation figures.
“There are conflicting drivers at the moment,” said Carl Hammer, head of asset allocation at SEB Asset Management. “On the one hand we as a house expect risk appetite to do fairly OK… ultimately we think that the dollar will weaken.
“Having said that, it’s fairly clear that the U.S. is doing significantly better than Europe and China. So I think we’re stuck here around the $1.10 handle in euro/dollar.”
Investors were keeping an eye on the Middle East where the U.S. and UK strikes on Houthi targets marked a widening of the fallout from the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.
Oil prices jumped, with Brent crude LCOc1 up 3.9% at $80.45 a barrel, although the reaction in currency markets was muted.
The dollar was unchanged against Japan’s yen JPY=EBS, which is traditionally a safe-haven currency, at 145.24 yen to the dollar. The Swiss franc CHF=EBS, another safe-haven, was down around 0.17%.
Sterling GBP=D3 was down 0.25% at $1.273. Data showed growth came in better than expected in November but remained subdued over the last three months.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin BTC= last stood mostly unchanged at $45,965, having surged to a two-year high overnight after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday gave the green light to offer ETFs linked to bitcoin.
World FX rates https://tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
(Reporting by Harry Robertson in London and Brigid Riley in Tokyo; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Kim Coghill and Hugh Lawson)
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