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Euro near 1-M Peak, Supported by Inflation Shock, ECB Hawks

LONDON (Reuters) -The euro held near a one-month high versus the dollar and a six-week peak to the pound, supported by hawkish comments from ECB policymakers after data showed inflation at a decade high and amid signs the Fed is not hurrying to tighten policy.

The dollar has been on the back foot over the past couple of weeks as doubts have crept in about when the Federal Reserve will start unwinding its stimulus. Fed chair Jerome Powell said last Friday the jobs recovery would determine the timing of asset purchase tapering.

Dovish comments from Powell and other Fed policymakers in addition to data misses have seen the greenback index lose around 1.4% versus a basket of currencies since hitting nine-month highs on Aug. 20.

The index was marginally weaker at 92.452 by 0800 GMT, not far off a four-week low of 92.376 touched in the previous session after soft ADP payrolls figures and ISM manufacturing surveys.

The euro has in contrast witnessed supportive data flow, including strong manufacturing growth and inflationary pressure from supply-chain snarls.

The single currency traded just off one-month highs of $1.1857, buoyed by data showing inflation rose 3% year on year in August, the highest growth in a decade and above the European Central Bank’s 2% target and a 2.7% forecast in a Reuters poll.

German bond yields rose to their highest levels since late-July, also pumped up by comments from a slew of European Central Bank hawks including Austrian central bank governor Robert Holzman and Bundesbank boss Jens Weidman.

The euro was also robust against other currencies, hitting 130.44 yen on Wednesday, its highest in a month and touching a six-week peak against the pound of 86.02 pence.

But it has struggled to make headway above $1.18, possibly because ECB guidance has suggested asset purchases will continue until rate hikes are necessary.

“We saw a number of hawkish comments but it’s difficult to argue the European economy is booming and in an inflationary environment, despite the stubbornly high numbers,” said Justin Onuekwusi, portfolio manager at Legal & General Investment Management.

“The data hasn’t fed through to inflation expectations and wages and until you start to see that feed-through, it will be hard for them to act.”

Moves across currency markets were subdued ahead of Friday’s U.S. non-farm payrolls data, with the yen at 110.00 per dollar and the Australian dollar at a two-week peak of $0.73890.

The New Zealand dollar meanwhile hit a one-month high of $0.7084, as rate hike bets pushed bond yields to two-month peaks [NZD/].

Disappointing U.S. ADP payrolls numbers on Wednesday showed 374,000 hirings last month against a forecast for 613,000. The data put more focus on non-farm payrolls data which is forecast by a Reuters poll to show 728,000 jobs added in August.

“Given the dollar flow, one could argue that the market is now positioned for NFPs to come in modestly below expectations – perhaps in the 550k/600k range,” said Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone in Melbourne.

Reporting by Sujata Rao; Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Source: Reuters

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