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Dollar Stable Ahead of Fed Minutes; Turkish Lira, New Zealand Dollar Fall Back

The dollar traded largely flat Wednesday, taking a break after recent strong gains ahead of the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve meeting that sanctioned the tapering of the central bank’s emergency bond-buying program.

At 2:55 AM ET (0755 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, traded flat at 96.483, just off levels last seen in June 2020.

USD/JPY fell 0.2% to 114.91, just off the new four-and-a-half-year high of 115.24 hit earlier. GBP/USD edged 0.1% higher to 1.3385, EUR/USD was flat at 1.1246 and AUD/USD fell 0.1% to 0.7219.

The dollar has been in demand of late, climbing to its highest levels in 2021, with traders betting that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates sooner than expected, and certainty before the majority of its major peers, in response to surging inflationary pressures.

It also received a boost on Tuesday with the nomination of Jerome Powell to continue heading up the central bank as he is widely perceived as being more likely to respond more quickly to the elevated prices than Lael Brainard, who was also in the running for the role.

Powell’s nomination “generated another round of USD buying, as the risk of the more dovish Lael Brainard taking over was priced out (she was, however, named Vice Chair) and markets

reinforced their views around a first Fed hike by mid-2022,” said analysts at ING in a note.

Treasury yields have slipped back early Wednesday, but overnight yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose more than 5 basis points to as high as 1.68% while yields on 30-year Treasury bonds gained 6 bps. Two-year U.S. Treasury yields also eased back, having earlier touched their highest level since March 2020.

Attention Wednesday will now turn to a number of economic data releases, ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, including the latest third-quarter GDP reading, October durable goods and the weekly initial jobless claims.

Most eyes, however, will be on the minutes from the November Fed meeting, the gathering that approved the easing back of the central bank’s bond-buying program started at the beginning of the pandemic. Investors will be looking for clues on whether the pace of this tapering could accelerate, potentially bringing forward the date of the first interest rate hike. The release of personal consumer expenditures price indices at 10 AM ET will be interpreted in this light.

Elsewhere, NZD/USD fell 0.6% to 0.6908, falling despite the Reserve Bank of New Zealand lifting its interest rate to 0.75% and raising its long-term cash rate projection by 50 basis points.

Investors had expected a bigger hike and a higher long-term cash rate projection from the central bank, prompting the kiwi to drop sharply.

USD/TRY rose 0.7% to 12.9145, with the Turkish lira remaining under pressure after this pair soared over 10% on Tuesday after President Tayyip Erdogan defended recent rate cuts and vowed to win his "economic war of independence".

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