The dollar edged higher in early European trade Thursday, with the safe haven currency supported by concerns of an earlier than expected Federal Reserve response to inflationary pressures in the wake of worryingly large jump in U.S. consumer prices. At 2 AM ET (0700 GMT), the U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was up 0.1% at 90.775, around its highest level in a week. The main driver of these dollar gains has been the surge in U.S. inflation, and the concern this will force the Fed to move away from its ultra-easy monetary policies sooner than its current guidance suggests.
While equity markets have started to fret about what a high inflation number could mean in terms of Federal Reserve policy going forward, currency traders seem to have been calmed by repeated promises of patience from Fed speakers as the dollar remains at low levels. St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said on Tuesday he expects inflation could stay as high as 2.5% next year, while Fed Governor Lael Brainard said weak labour data last week shows the recovery has a long way to run.
The dollar was largely unchanged Thursday near multi-week lows after the U.S. Federal Reserve maintained its very dovish monetary policy, boosting confidence in the global economic recovery. The Federal Reserve decided on Wednesday to leave the policy interest rate near zero and kept a $120 billion monthly pace of asset purchases, while acknowledging that there had been an improvement in the economic conditions. In the press conference that followed the policy statement, Fed chairman Jerome Powell continued to signal that policy will remain steady for some time, to the benefit of the global economy, with inflation risks distorted by the pandemic-related decline in prices last year.