The dollar began the week on the defensive after being dented by a second batch of disappointing jobs figures, as traders turned to whether upcoming inflation data could add pressure on policymakers to taper monetary stimulus.
The possibility of a slowdown in bond buying is also in focus leading up to a European Central Bank meeting on Thursday, and both concerns kept a lid on price moves in Asia.
The euro steadied around $1.2168, a recovery from a drop to $1.2104 on Friday before the U.S. dollar fell broadly.
As the greenback nursed losses, the Australian and New Zealand dollars spent the Asia session above 77 cents and 72 cents, respectively, and the dollar fell 0.1% to 109.61 yen. [AUD/]
The Chinese yuan, which has been on a tear in recent weeks, wobbled around 6.4 per dollar after data showed China’s export growth missed forecasts while imports surged. [CNY/]
“Friday’s slightly softer-than-expected U.S. May employment numbers stand to set the tone for the weeks ahead,” ING Bank analysts said in a note to clients.
“This provides the excuse for the (U.S. Federal Reserve) to say that substantial progress towards its goals has not been achieved and to defer the tapering debate a little longer.”
The Fed is holding rates at near zero and buys $120 billion in bonds every month in order to suppress financing costs and hence support economic growth — but policymakers have begun inching toward a discussion about winding that help back.
Friday’s jobs data, which showed U.S. non-farm payrolls increasing by 559,000 in May, fell 90,000 jobs short of expectations and seemed to allay fears of premature policy tightening and higher rates driving a firmer U.S. dollar.
But nerves are persisting ahead of what is likely to be another hot inflation reading on Thursday, and analysts see risks on all sides and the coming weeks as pivotal.
“How the dollar performs today may set the tone into the June Fed meeting next week,” said analysts at OCBC Bank. “Our bias is for the floor under the dollar to hold out for now, at least until the ECB and U.S. CPI on Thursday.”
ING analysts think the dollar could “stay gently offered” if it gets past Thursday unscathed, while strategists at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia see it at risk of a drop.
“We think inflation could fall short of elevated expectations and pull down the dollar,” said CBA’s Kim Mundy.
Short bets against the dollar increased a tiny bit last week as Fed officials insist the recovery has a long way to run and they will not rush to react to short-term data points.
Elsewhere, the market’s focus is also on tapering ahead of a Bank of Canada meeting on Wednesday and the ECB on Thursday, where changes are seen as unlikely but some analysts see adjustments to the pace of Europe’s bond buying programme.
“We expect a ‘technical adjustment’ … with a ‘slightly lower’ pace through Q3,” Rabobank analysts said in a note. “But we acknowledge the risks are skewed towards a delay of any such slowdown.”