Dollar Up, U.S. Inflation Likely to Have Minimal Impact on Fed Policy

The dollar was up on Thursday morning in Asia, clawing back from new lows hit overnight. Although data showed that U.S. consumer prices rose at their fastest rate in nearly 40 years, it is likely not worrying enough to change an already hawkish monetary policy.

The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies inched up 0.07% to 94.970 by 10:19 PM ET (3:19 AM GMT).

The USD/JPY pair inched down 0.07% to 114.55.

The AUD/USD pair inched down 0.01% to 0.7283 and the NZD/USD pair edged up 0.16% to 0.6855.

The USD/CNY pair inched up 0.03% to 6.3605 and the GBP/USD pair edged up 0.11% to 1.3716. The pound had been rallying over bets that the Bank of England could hike its own interest rates as soon as February 2022, and investors are also optimistic that the economy will survive the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.

A developing political crisis, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologizing for attending a party during Britain's first -19 lockdown, has so far had a minimal impact.

Wednesday’s U.S. data showed that the core consumer price index (CPI) grew 0.6% month-on-month and 5.5% year-on-year in December. The CPI grew 7% year-on-year, the fastest pace since June 1982, and 0.5% month-on-month.

"I don't think it was anything within the components of the CPI that caused the market to take a sigh of relief," NatWest markets strategist Jan Nevruzi said in a note.

"A few tenths of basis points of a difference on either side of consensus carries a much lower significance when CPI was running at a third of the current pace... would a 6.7% or 7.3% print really have changed the Fed's trajectory in the next few months or in 2022? I do not think so.”

With the U.S. Federal Reserve already indicating interest rate hikes and asset tapering in 2022, other investors agreed with Nevruzi.

"The dollar does not have to increase because the Fed is readying a tightening cycle. It is not a simple equation of Fed hikes equals dollar increases. The dollar is a counter-cyclical currency which decreases as the world economy recovers," Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist Joe Capurso told Reuters.

Investors also await the U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing for Fed vice-chair nominee Lael Brainard, taking place later in the day.