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Dollar eases from 16-mth high as traders seek clues on Fed rate plans

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LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar eased on Monday from an almost 16-month high versus major peers, as traders awaited fresh clues on Federal Reserve interest rate hike plans on the back of red-hot inflation.

FILE PHOTO: A packet of U.S. five-dollar bills is inspected at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

The dollar had been buoyant since Wednesday, when data showed U.S. consumer prices rose last month at the fastest annual pace since 1990, casting doubts on the Fed’s view that price pressure will be transitory.

Money markets are pricing a first rate increase by July next year.

By 0845 GMT, the dollar index – which measures the currency against six peers – flattened at 95.146, after touching its highest level since July 2020 on Friday.

Investors will be watching any comments coming out of a virtual summit between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later on Monday.

In terms of economic data, the main event on the U.S. calendar will be Tuesday’s retail sales data, particularly after a survey on Friday showed consumer confidence unexpectedly plunged to a decade low in early November as high inflation hit sentiment.

“It will be important to watch what still cashed-up U.S. consumers do rather than what they say,” Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank, told clients.

Gains in the heavily euro-weighted dollar index have also been helped by a droop in the single currency, with the European Central Bank appearing unlikely to change its dovish policy in the near term.

ECB president Christine Lagarde will speak before the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament later on Monday.

“We do not expect to hear any change in her cautious view on inflation and her policy-related comments should still be aimed at pushing back against any speculation of a 2022 rate hike,” ING strategists told clients.

The euro was flat at $1.1438, not far from Friday’s 16-month low.

After touching its lowest level this year on Friday versus the dollar, sterling also flattened at $1.3412, ahead of a data-heavy week in the UK with key employment, inflation and retail sales numbers expected to give clues whether the Bank of England will raise rates in December, as markets expect.

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