Dollar drops as Fed signals coming rate cuts

By Karen Brettell

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The dollar tumbled against the euro and yen on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve signaled in new economic projections that U.S. interest rate increases have come to an end and lower borrowing costs are coming in 2024.

A near unanimous 17 of 19 Fed officials project that the policy rate will be lower by the end of 2024, with the median projection showing the rate falling three-quarters of a percentage point from the current 5.25%-5.50% range. No officials see rates higher by the end of next year.

The Fed kept interest rates steady for the third meeting in a row, as was widely expected.

“The Fed turned decisively dovish this afternoon, waving a red flag in front of market bulls hoping for an easing in policy,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Corpay in Toronto.

Traders are now pricing in a 72% probability of a rate cut in March, up from 49% earlier on Wednesday, and a 94% likelihood by May, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.

The U.S. dollar index dropped to 102.89, down 0.83% on the day, and the lowest since Nov. 30.

The euro rose 0.80% to $1.0882 and hit $1.08970, the highest since Dec. 1. The single currency is on track for its largest one-day percentage gain since Nov. 14.

The greenback fell 1.67% to 143.03 Japanese yen, the lowest since Dec. 8..

Some analysts had expected that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell would push back against market pricing, and indicate that a rate cut would be unlikely in the first half of the year.

Powell said the central bank was likely done raising interest rates, but kept open the option to act again if needed, noting that “the economy has surprised forecasters.”

He also noted that the question of when it will be appropriate to cut rates is coming into view.

“The Powell Pause may only last until the May meeting. The critical question is whether the Fed will be cutting because it can or because it has to,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief economist at Annex Wealth Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

With inflation ebbing but still above the Fed’s 2% target and a resilient labor market many analysts see the economy remaining solid for months to come.

However, the U.S. central bank may also cut rates to maintain the level of restrictive policy it is aiming for.

If the Fed holds rates steady as inflation eases the gap between the two rates, known as the real interest rate, can make monetary conditions more restrictive than policymakers intend.

With the Fed meeting now concluded, investors will turn to a host of international central bank meetings on Thursday.

These include the European Central Bank, Bank of England, Norges Bank and Swiss National Bank. The Norwegian central bank is considered to be the only one that could potentially raise rates. There is also a risk the SNB could dial back its support for the franc in currency markets.

The Bank of Japan also meets next week. The yen has been volatile on speculation that the BOJ is drawing close to ending its negative rate policy. But hopes this may occur next Tuesday were dashed after Bloomberg reported this week that BOJ officials see little need to rush to the exit.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was last up 2.87% at $42,642.


Currency bid prices at 3:20PM (2020 GMT)

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Previous Change


Dollar index 102.8900 103.7600 -0.83% -0.580% +104.0300 +102.7700

Euro/Dollar $1.0882 $1.0795 +0.80% +1.55% +$1.0897 +$1.0774

Dollar/Yen 143.0250 145.4650 -1.67% +9.10% +145.9900 +142.6400

Euro/Yen 155.63 156.98 -0.86% +10.94% +157.4800 +155.4000

Dollar/Swiss 0.8706 0.8753 -0.53% -5.84% +0.8780 +0.8692

Sterling/Dollar $1.2619 $1.2563 +0.45% +4.35% +$1.2634 +$1.2501

Dollar/Canadian 1.3505 1.3590 -0.61% -0.31% +1.3608 +1.3495

Aussie/Dollar $0.6663 $0.6559 +1.58% -2.26% +$0.6673 +$0.6542

Euro/Swiss 0.9472 0.9448 +0.25% -4.27% +0.9479 +0.9437

Euro/Sterling 0.8621 0.8592 +0.34% -2.52% +0.8629 +0.8586

NZ $0.6199 $0.6135 +1.05% -2.37% +$0.6211 +$0.6085


Dollar/Norway 10.7780 10.9620 -1.71% +9.79% +11.0080 +10.7700

Euro/Norway 11.7299 11.8297 -0.84% +11.78% +11.8693 +11.7192

Dollar/Sweden 10.3068 10.4305 -0.42% -0.97% +10.4642 +10.2890

Euro/Sweden 11.2158 11.2627 -0.42% +0.59% +11.2862 +11.2128

(Reporting By Karen Brettell; Additional reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Richard Chang)