Dollar treads water as all eyes turn to Fed's Powell

Jay Powell Is Janet Yellen's Trap Queen

But tightening of monetary policy at the current pace will allow wages to continue to grow and allow the economy to continue to expand."What we don't want to have happen is get behind the curve", he cautioned.

Powell's appearance before the House panel is his first as Fed chief.

Economists polled by Reuters expect the core PCE to increase 1.5 percent year-on-year in January, which would be the same as December's pace and still some way off from the Fed's 2 percent target. He is set to testify in front of the Senate Banking Committee.

Pending homes sales dropped -4.7% month on month in January, down from 0.5% in December and significantly short of the 0.5% forecast. It noted that the labour market had continued to strengthen since the middle of previous year, with a fall in the official jobless rate from 4.3 to 4.1 percent and other measures of labour utilization suggesting that "the labour market has tightened since last summer". In addition, the labor force participation rate remained roughly unchanged, on net, as it has for the past several years - that is a sign of job market strength, given that retiring baby boomers are putting downward pressure on the participation rate.

Furthermore, 2.5% still represents strong, solid growth as the USA finished the year. The economic analysts are looking for consensus of 0.3 percent, down from 0.4 percent in the prior month.

The Fed has been trying to nudge inflation higher without risking a recession. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.2 percent at 7,216.16.

The Fed's Money supply for the week will be released at 4.30 pm ET.

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U.S. Steel hiked as much as 8.4%, and AK Steel rose as much as 12%, before trading up about 2% each.

However, there are fears that over the longer term the ultra-low interest rates since the global financial crisis of 2008 may leave the Fed without sufficient fire power to combat any significant downturn in the United States economy, and so it should start raising rates now.

"My personal outlook for the economy has strengthened since December, " Powell said in response to a question about whether the recent tax cut and other moves by Congress have changed his outlook for how quickly the Fed will raise interest rates. Generally, when interest rates are rising, companies need to produce bigger profits just for their stock prices to stay flat. This is reinforcing the domestic pro-growth impact of favorable consumption and business investment, stronger sentiment and sales, and more stimulative fiscal policy. "You saw some reaction, but not a dramatic one". The odds of four rate hikes this year climbed to more than 25%, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

Today's main risk event for the dollar will be the second estimate of the fourth quarter US GDP, which is expected to show that the US economy expanded 2.5%.

For the most part, in his prepared remarks Powell struck all the right notes. They thought it made it more likely the Fed will increase rates faster.

The Fed is expected to approve its first rate increase of 2018 at the next policy meeting in March, when it will also provide fresh economic projections and Powell will hold his first press conference. He said the economic outlook "remains strong", but reiterated the Fed's plan of "gradual" rate hikes, which follows the market-friendly playbook under departed Fed chair Janet Yellen.



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