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Dollar Edges Lower; U.S. Retail Sales Loom Large

The dollar edged lower Monday, retreating from a 16-month high, as traders seek new clues as to the Federal Reserve’s thinking over the timing of interest rate hikes.

At 3:05 AM ET (0805 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, traded 0.1% lower at 95.073, falling back from Friday’s 16-month high of 95.267.

EUR/USD traded flat at 1.1449, just above Friday's 16-month low of 1.1433, USD/JPY rose 0.1% to 113.95, while GBP/USD edged higher to 1.3416, recovering from Friday’s 1.3354 low, its weakest level this year.

The dollar soared to its highest level in over a year last week when data showed U.S. consumer prices rising last month at the fastest annual pace since 1990, casting doubts on whether the Federal Reserve can defend its line that this year's spike in inflation will be transitory.

“The rise in price pressures requires the Federal Reserve to be more flexible to address a range of possible outcomes,” said Marc Chandler, Chief Market Strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex.

“The pace of the tapering is the main constraint on policy. The FOMC statement committed the Fed to reduce the bond-buying by $15 bln in November and December. While it anticipated that the pace would continue, it reserved the right to adjust the rate. This is likely to be the focus in the run-up to the mid-December meeting.”

Ahead of that, the main focus as far as the U.S. economic data slate is concerned this week will be Tuesday's retail sales data, particularly after the University of Michigan survey on Friday showed consumer confidence unexpectedly plunged to a decade low in early November.

Additionally, traders will keep a wary watch out for comments coming out of a virtual summit between President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later Monday, given the tense

relationship between the two global economic superpowers. XI goes into the meeting having cemented his position at the top of the Communist Party last week at a meeting that could see him extend his term in office. That would be a major break from the precedent of the last 30 years. USD/CNY rose slightly to 6.3812, the yuan still testing a three-year high as annual growth in Chinese retail sales and industrial output both beat forecasts in October.

The yuan's strength also gives the People's Bank of China more leeway to cut its minimum reserve requirement, a step that analysts have said is increasingly likely given the strains on the country's real estate sector.

Elsewhere, ECB President Christine Lagarde will speak before the European Parliament later Monday, and is unlikely to change hers dovish policy stance against the backdrop of a slowing economy and rising numbers of Covid cases.

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