Dollar mixed ahead of all-important US inflation report

The recent rally in the US dollar eased against most major currencies last week, as markets somewhat tempered bets in favour of higher Federal Reserve rates.

The week was mixed overall. The dollar rose against most emerging market currencies following the surge higher in US yields, although it ended lower against almost all of its G10 counterparts, with the clear exception of the euro. Expectations for future Fed rate cuts continue to be pushed into the future, though FOMC chair Powell last week failed to acknowledge the possibility of a higher terminal rate than had been previously outlined. Meanwhile, a handful of currencies, such as the Swedish krona and the Mexican peso, outperformed on the back of respective central bank guidance toward higher rates in 2023. The FX market continues to be driven primarily by central bank stances and the resulting expectations for terminal short term rates in the different currency areas.


Last week’s Canadian labour report came in much stronger than anticipated, lifting interest rate expectations and CAD, which ended as one of the better performers in the G10. A net 150k jobs were added to the Canadian economy last month, well above the 15k consensus, and the most since the boom following the removal of lockdown restrictions in early-2022.

The Bank of Canada has already made it pretty clear that it doesn’t expect to hike rates again – the strength of last week’s report will certainly test this resolve. Markets are bracing for a possibility that the BoC goes again at some point in the next two or three meetings, although we think we would likely need to see a few surprises to the upside in inflation data in the interim for this to be the case.


Second-tier releases out of the US, including weekly jobless claims and consumer sentiment and CPI revisions were all consistent with the picture of strength painted by the payrolls report the prior week. Markets did, however, perceive Powell’s latest speech as dovish, as he failed to hint that the Fed was on course to raise rates higher than outlined in the bank’s December ‘dot plot’.

We note, in particular, the slight upward revision to the December core inflation print. This, together with the recent rebound in high-frequency measures like used cars, means markets are bracing for another +0.4% monthly print in this key core index. This is roughly consistent with a 5% annual rate of inflation, far too high for comfort for the Fed, and we expect that rates will continue to see upward pressure as expectations for a 2023 rate cut fade further.


It was a very light week in terms of economic news out of the Eurozone last week. Retail sales were a touch on the soft side, and the German inflation print fell short of expectations. A handful of ECB members made public appearances, although none of them really delivered the hawkish messages that perhaps markets were bracing for, and the euro actually ended the week as the worst performer in the G10.

This week should be similarly light in terms of news, as the fourth-quarter GDP report has been preceded by most individual countries’ reports and should not add much new information. In addition to the CPI print out of the US on Tuesday, President Lagarde’s speech this week should be the main drivers of market action.


Investors have taken some comfort from the confirmation that the UK avoided recession in the last quarter of 2022. The UK economy posted flat growth in the final three months of the year, although the sharp downturn in December activity is a concern, and the outlook remains far from rosy. Sterling subsequently held its own against the dollar last week, while rising on the euro.

Otherwise, data was rather light last week. This week is very different, and we expect to see some fireworks mid-week between the release of the US inflation report on Tuesday and the UK one on Wednesday. The UK labour report on Tuesday is also important, but for now markets remain focused on inflation prints. Consensus for a core inflation print (excluding food and energy) well above 6% bodes ill for the Bank of England latest attempt at a “dovish pivot”, in our view.

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