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November 17, 2022

Dollar bounces as U.S. economy sends mixed signals

The dollar rose on Thursday as investors digested mixed U.S. economic data, while the British pound fell as the UK government unveiled its latest budget update.

The greenback has tumbled in recent weeks as inflation data and comments from Federal Reserve officials have suggested that the central bank can soon slow the pace of its punishing interest rate hikes.

Yet the dollar climbed on Thursday after U.S. retail sales data for October, released on Wednesday, came in stronger than expected.

The euro was down 0.63% against the dollar at $1.033 at 1340 GMT, after hitting its highest level since July at $1.048 on Tuesday.

The dollar index, which measures the currency against six major peers, rose 0.66% to 106.98. The index has fallen more than 6% since hitting a 20-year high in September, although it remained 11% higher for the year on Thursday.

"Markets have positioned for the Fed to pivot (but) the U.S. retail sales data very much challenges that narrative," said Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:CMWAY) currency strategist Kim Mundy.

Simon Harvey, senior FX analyst at Monex Europe, said the dollar was consolidating as investors try to work out the direction of the U.S. economy.

"The positive consumption data suggests we don't have a hard landing coming (for the economy). But is that positive for risk assets or will it embolden the Fed to go harder?" he said.

The British pound, which was already trading lower, fell slightly as UK finance minister Jeremy Hunt announced tax increases and tighter public spending in an effort to restore the country's economic reputation and cool inflation.

It was last down 0.98% to $1.179 in a move that one analyst said was largely driven by sentiment about the dollar. The euro was up 0.38% against the pound at 87.59 pence.

Traders will also scrutinise speeches from numerous Fed officials on Thursday for hints about rate hikes.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Thursday that even under a "generous" analysis of monetary policy the central bank needs to continue raising interest rates probably by at least another full percentage point.

The Fed has already hiked interest rates from next to zero in March to a range of 3.75% to 4%.

Bullard's comments came after San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly - until recently one of the most dovish officials - added to doubts about a change of direction from the Fed by saying a pause was off the table on Wednesday.

The greenback rose 0.49% against the Japanese yen on Thursday to 140.28 after falling earlier in the session. It plunged 3.7% on Thursday last week when U.S. consumer inflation data for October came in lower than expected.

The Aussie dollar dropped 1.22% to $0.666, while the Kiwi fell 1.01% to $0.611.

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