By Tom Westbrook
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The dollar was on a firm footing on Monday, as traders brace for a sharp U.S. interest rate hike this week and look for safety as data points to a weakening global economy.
The greenback was up slightly against most majors early in the Asia session, trading at $1.0195 on the euro and steadying Friday losses to buy 136.57 Japanese yen.
The U.S. Federal Reserve concludes a two-day meeting on Wednesday and markets are priced for a 75-basis-point (bp) rate hike, with about a 9% chance of a 100 bp hike.
“Market reaction will turn on how hawkish Chair (Jerome)Powell sounds with his determination to reduce inflation in the face of slowing growth,” said National Australia Bank (OTC:NABZY) currency strategist Rodrigo Catril.
U.S. growth data is also due out Thursday, though markets have already been rattled by a slew of soft business indicators in Europe, which snuffed out a rally in risk assets on Friday.
An energy crisis also hangs over the euro, while the trade-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars, which made one-month highs on Friday, have backed away.
The Aussie edged about 0.5% lower to $0.6892 and the kiwi was down by the same margin to $0.6223. [AUD/]
Australian consumer price data is due on Wednesday and a hot number could lend support by ramping up bets on rate hikes, though analysts warned the backdrop was mostly negative.
“The Australian dollar will mainly be a function of the world economic outlook,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:CMWAY)’s head of international economics, Joe Capurso.
“The darkening outlook suggests the Aussie has more downside than upside risk and can test $0.6800 this week.”
Sterling also slipped on Monday, even as markets reckon on a 60% chance the Bank of England would lift rates by 50 bp next week. It was last down 0.3% to $1.1970.
Bitcoin hovered at $22.278. The dollar rose 0.4% to buy 0.9641 Swiss francs. The U.S. dollar index sat at 106.840, just below a two-decade high made in mid July at 109.290.