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Dollar climbs on stronger-than-expected US retail sales as Asia markets await earnings

The dollar climbed overnight on the release of better than expected U.S. retail sales numbers as investors in Asia awaited earnings announcements from several major corporates on Wednesday.

U.S. July retail sales rose 0.6 percent, which was stronger than the 0.4 percent forecast in a Reuters poll. Meanwhile, retail sales for the month of June were revised upwards to reflect a 0.3 percent gain from a previously recorded 0.2 percent decline.

The strong showing in retail sales led to an increase in expectations for another Federal Reserve rate hike by the end of the year. Market expectations for at least one new rate hike by the end of the year were at about 54 percent Tuesday, up from just 37 percent on Monday, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

The dollar jumped to its highest levels in around three weeks against a basket of currencies on the back of the strong retail sales. The dollar index stood at 93.829 at 6:38 a.m. HK/SIN after rising as high as 94.139 in the overnight session.

However, one reason gains in the dollar were capped despite the positive data release could be that markets were still keeping an eye on receding geopolitical tensions. “The market does not truly believe the U.S.-North Korea showdown is over,” BK Asset Management Managing Director of FX Strategy Kathy Lien wrote in a note.

In Asia, futures tipped a slightly lower open for Japanese equities. Nikkei futures traded in Chicago were off 0.12 percent at 19,730 and Osaka futures were lower by 0.07 percent at 19,740. Both were a tad below the Nikkei 225’s previous close of 19,753.31.

Australian SPI futures were down 1.02 percent at 5,699 compared to the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index’s Tuesday close of 5,757.483.

Major indexes on Wall Street closed mostly flat after retail stocks recorded sharp losses. The Dow Jones industrial average closed just above the flat line at 21,998.99, rising just 0.02 percent, or 5.28 points. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 edged down 0.05 percent, or 1.23 points, to close at 2,464.61 and the Nasdaq shed 0.11 percent, or 7.22 points, to finish the session at 6,333.01.

In currencies, the dollar strengthened against the yen overnight, with the greenback fetching 110.63 yen at 6:58 a.m. HK/SIN. That was above the 109 handle seen since the middle of last week when geopolitical tensions over the Korean peninsula ramped up.

Oil prices were mostly flat on Tuesday as the dollar gained and markets were pressured by signs of easing petroleum demand in China, according to Reuters. Brent crude settled higher by 7 cents at $50.80 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate settled lower by 4 cents at $47.55 a barrel.

On the earnings front, notable companies in the region reporting results on Wednesday include Tencent, Cathay Pacific, Geely Auto and Westfield.

Ahead, investors are anticipating the release of the Federal Open Market Committee minutes during U.S. hours.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

Source: cnbc china
Dollar climbs on stronger-than-expected US retail sales as Asia markets await earnings

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