US Open Note – Fed’s ‘hawkish’ tone sends the dollar surging

Powell signals a rate hike in March

The first FOMC meeting of 2022 was concluded on Wednesday, with the Fed Chair Jerome Powell setting the stage for a March rate hike, declining to rule out more frequent and larger rate increases. Powell also struck a pessimistic tone regarding the recovery of supply chain disruptions, which are currently driving inflation. However, even if supply bottlenecks subside, the ongoing wage-price spiral could keep inflation elevated throughout 2022, keeping monetary tightening pressures high.

The US dollar jumped in the aftermath of the FOMC meeting, reaching an 18-month high against a basket of currencies on Thursday. The move was mainly boosted by the increase of short-dated Treasury yields. Earlier today, the advance US GDP print for the fourth quarter clocked in at 6.9% beating consensus estimates of 5.5%, reflecting the strong stance of the US economic growth outlook.

No rate hike for BoC

The Bank of Canada announced on Wednesday that it will keep its interest rates at rock-bottom levels, despite the market’s expectations for an early rate hike. However, the Canadian dollar managed to hold relatively steady against the greenback as commentary pointed to a March rate hike and set the stage for multiple rate increases throughout 2022.

In the rest of the FX arena, the kiwi witnessed significant losses against the US dollar, failing to capitalize on New Zealand's stronger-than-expected CPI figures. The euro also took a heavy beating against the dollar, reaching an 18-month low at the time of writing.

US stocks headed for opening gains

On Wednesday, US stocks finished mostly lower in a volatile trading session as investors digested Powell’s late comments. The S&P 500 index erased an early advance of over 2%, closing the day lower by 0.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite remained little changed. Looking ahead, the tightening pace should not spread further fear over the markets as the US economic expansion remains strong and the market's anticipated interest rate of 1.25% by the end of 2022 is still considered an accommodating monetary policy rate.

Futures for the major US indices are expected to witness opening gains, recovering from an early day slump of 2.2%, indicating that after a volatile week, buy-the-dip sentiment remains strong. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index is in positive territory erasing early losses, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed 2% lower. Meanwhile, oil continued its advance on Thursday reaching a seven-year high at the time of writing as geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe escalated.

Microsoft tops expectations

Microsoft’s stock added 2.9% on Wednesday after the tech giant topped analyst’s expectations and offered a positive growth outlook for its cloud service segment. Meanwhile, Intel fell by almost 3% in pre-market trade as the company’s earnings guidance disappointed investors. In today's earnings, Apple and Visa will take center stage announcing their results after Wall Street’s closing bell.

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