Dollar rises vs euro, but outlook remains weak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar rose against the euro on Friday in choppy trading, boosted by technical factors after the single currency hit key resistance levels, even as the greenback’s outlook remained bleak amid cautious signals from the Federal Reserve about further rate hikes.

“It seems like we’re getting some model and stop-loss buying on the dollar after the euro hit resistance on the upside,” said John Doyle, vice president of dealing and trading at Tempus Inc. in Washington.

“I don’t see any fundamental driver to this move. The sharpest move was in euro/dollar and it has become this across-the-board buying of the dollar,” he added.

That said, investors remained wary of pushing the dollar a lot higher.

This week’s Fed minutes, which underscored the U.S. central bank’s flexibility on monetary policy, triggered dollar selling that lifted the euro as high as $1.1581 and propelled it past a 100-day moving average for the first time in three months.

Greg Anderson, global head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York, said the Fed’s rate outlook is one factor for the dollar’s weakness so far in January.

“The change (in Fed communications) this January was that (Fed Chairman Jerome) Powell last Friday and the minutes this week seem to indicate greater flexibility on balance sheet policy,” said Anderson.

He added: “Well, he didn’t seem flexible yesterday. He has been all over the map on the balance sheet.”

Powell’s mixed message was a relief for financial markets in general, but not necessarily for the dollar, Anderson said.

The Fed chairman said on Thursday in a forum at the Economic Club of Washington that the U.S. central bank intends to shrink its balance sheet further, suggesting it is not done tightening monetary policy just yet.

Markets, however, are pricing in no further rate hikes by the Fed this year.

Data showing U.S. consumer prices in December fell for the first time in nine months in December had little impact on the market, but it backed the Fed’s cautious stance about raising rates this year.

In mid-morning trading, the dollar index rose 0.2 percent to 95.715, with the euro falling 0.3 percent to $1.1467.

The dollar was also slightly higher versus the yen at 108.45 yen, and up versus the Canadian dollar, which fell 0.2 percent. The greenback last traded at C$1.3265.

,p>In other trading, the Chinese yuan rose to its highest level since late July against the dollar, as China and the United States extended trade talks in Beijing. China also gave recent assurances of further fiscal boosts to its slowing economy, lifting the yuan as well.

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