US Inflation Cheat Sheet: Dollar selling opportunity? Three scenarios for the critical event


  • Fears of a pick-up in inflation have risen sharply in recent days, pushing the greenback higher.
  • Core inflation is more likely to remain far from the Fed's target. 
  • A turn to the downside in the dollar is the most likely scenario of three.

Everything costs money – and sometimes more than previously. Fears of rising inflation have taken hold of markets since Friday, when producer prices jumped more than projected, putting an even greater spotlight on Tuesday's Consumer Price Index data for March.

Costs at factory gates had been forecast to leap on an annual basis – due to the plunge back in March 2020, when the pandemic broke out – but also surprised with a monthly advance of 1%. That was double the early expectations. 

Consumer prices are less volatile and more important – one of the Federal Reserve's mandates is keeping inflation in check. While Fed officials have been reiterating that they will see through temporary increases, markets fear that gains will begin taking hold, forcing policymakers to hike interest rates sooner rather than later. The dollar has been rising, but is it justified?

The central bank focuses on Core CPI – underlying inflation which excludes volatile items such as food and energy. The economic calendar is pointing to an acceleration from 1.3% in February to 1.6% in March, which would still leave core prices below the Fed's 2% objective

As the chart below shows, a return to 1.6% would put the gauge at levels seen in December 2020 – and below pre-pandemic rates of 2% or higher. However, with the impact of base effects and other unknowns, the result could be different.

How will the dollar react? Here are three scenarios:

1) Within expectations – sell the fact

If Core CPI hits 1.6% YoY as forecast– or even 1.7% – that would merely be within what economists expected but below the hype-driven market expectations. In this scenario, which has the highest probability, the greenback could suffer in a classic "buy the rumor, sell the fact" response.

The pound could stand out, after correcting to the downside and as the country is reopening amid an accelerated vaccination campaign. 

2) Above estimates – dollar rises

Perhaps traders have it correctly and producer prices were not too high. In case Core CPI hits 1.8% and especially if it touches 2%, the greenback would gain amid growing chances that the Fed raises rates or at least tapers down bond-buys sooner. This scenario has a medium probability

USD/JPY would be the preferred currency pair to buy, as Treasury yields would jump and dollar/yen is best correlated with returns on US debt.

3) Below forecasts – market rally

In the unlikely case that base-effects hardly push Core CPI higher and put it only at 1.4% or 1.5%, it would be a positive shock to stock markets – which would assume lower rates for longer. For the dollar, it would result in an even more significant sell-off.

The biggest winners would be commodity currencies, which tend to have an outsized reaction to equity rallies. The Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars would have room to surge higher. 

Conclusion

US inflation figures for March are critical for markets and expectations are high – probably too high. The dollar could drop if reality does not meet estimates. 

Bank to the Future: Interest rates return to market center stage

Information on these pages contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Markets and instruments profiled on this page are for informational purposes only and should not in any way come across as a recommendation to buy or sell in these assets. You should do your own thorough research before making any investment decisions. FXStreet does not in any way guarantee that this information is free from mistakes, errors, or material misstatements. It also does not guarantee that this information is of a timely nature. Investing in Open Markets involves a great deal of risk, including the loss of all or a portion of your investment, as well as emotional distress. All risks, losses and costs associated with investing, including total loss of principal, are your responsibility. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of FXStreet nor its advertisers. The author will not be held responsible for information that is found at the end of links posted on this page.

If not otherwise explicitly mentioned in the body of the article, at the time of writing, the author has no position in any stock mentioned in this article and no business relationship with any company mentioned. The author has not received compensation for writing this article, other than from FXStreet.

FXStreet and the author do not provide personalized recommendations. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability of this information. FXStreet and the author will not be liable for any errors, omissions or any losses, injuries or damages arising from this information and its display or use. Errors and omissions excepted.

The author and FXStreet are not registered investment advisors and nothing in this article is intended to be investment advice.

Feed news

Latest Forex Analysis


Latest Forex Analysis

Editors’ Picks

EUR/USD trades below 1.1450 despite disappointing US data

EUR/USD is having a difficult time gathering bullish momentum in the early American session and trades in the negative territory below 1.1450. The US Census Bureau reported on Friday that Retail Sales in December fell by 1.9%, missing the market expectation of a no-change by a wide margin.

EUR/USD News

GBP/USD drops below 1.3700 as dollar gains traction

GBP/USD stays under modest bearish pressure in the American session and trades below 1.3700. The US Dollar Index is clinging to modest daily recovery gains near 95.00 despite weaker-than-forecast macroeconomic data releases from the US.

GBP/USD News

Gold fluctuates in daily range above $1,820 after US data

Gold declined to $1,820 during the European trading hours but managed to edge higher toward $1,830 in the early American. The benchmark 10-year US Treasury bond yield retreated from 1.75% after the dismal US data, allowing XAU/USD to gain traction.

Gold News

Dogecoin price on track to hit new highs, rallying 16% with Tesla payments going live

Tesla announced that it accepts Dogecoin and cannot receive or detect any other cryptocurrency. Analysts have predicted an explosive rally in Dogecoin price, continuing the uptrend. 

Read more

Why did TSLA stock fall 7% on Thursday?

Tesla stock dumps on Thursday as tech takes a bath. TSLA shares fell nearly 7% to close at $1,031.56. Tesla support at the short-term pivot remains at $980.

Read more

Majors

Cryptocurrencies

Signatures