Forex Today: Gold, stocks suffer as yields, dollar hold ground ahead of Fed Powell's critical speech

Here is what you need to know on Thursday, March 4:

The market mood remains damp on Thursday as stimulus progress pushed yields lower despite weak US data. Tensions are mounting ahead of Fed Chair Powell's speech, in which he is set to refer to rising borrowing costs. US jobless claims, the OPEC+ meeting are eyed, while Bitcoin retreats from the highs.

US ten-year Treasury yields are hovering just under 1.48%, on higher ground. That keeps the dollar bid and weighs on markets, with US stocks set to decline on Thursday after dropping on Wednesday. 

All eyes are on Jerome Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve. The world's most powerful central banker speaks at 17:05 GMT in his last public appearance before the Fed's rate decision in two weeks. So far, Powell shrugged off higher yields and rising inflation expectations, seeing it as a sign of better growth prospects.

However, Fed Governor Lael Brainard said the pace of the move "caught her eye." Some suspect Powell may hint that the bank may intervene, causing a "short squeeze" on bonds and pushing the dollar down. 

See Powell Preview: Three scenarios for the Fed to defuse the bond bonfire, market implications

President Joe Biden agreed to lower cutoff limits for stimulus checks in his proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. Political analysts suggest that this compromise with moderate Democrats will reportedly pave the way for passing the legislation in the Senate, which may happen on Thursday. 

Weak US data: ADP's private-sector labor figures missed estimates with only 117,000 jobs in February and the ISM Services Purchasing Managers' Index fell short with a score of 55.3 points. The PMI's employment component disappointed with a drop, hinting at subdued Nonfarm Payrolls figure on Friday. Weekly jobless claims are due out on Thursday. 

See US Initial Jobless Claims Preview: On the verge of an explosive recovery?

EUR/USD is hovering around 1.2050 as EU countries have eased their approach toward AstraZeneca's vaccines, potentially ramping up distribution. Germany will partially ease restrictions on Monday. 

GBP/USD is trading around 1.3955 after the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak laid out a budget that includes more support to the economy, investment incentives for firms, but also higher corporate taxes in 2023. All in all, the changes were well-received. 

AUD/USD has risen above 0.78 after Australia reported a whopping trade surplus of over A$10 billion – the highest on record.

Gold remains under pressure but holds above $1,700 so far. The precious metal is suffering from rising US yields. WTI Crude Oil has advanced above $61 ahead of Thursday's OPEC+ meeting. Russia is reportedly ready to raise oil output while Saudi Arabia is reportedly reluctant 

Bitcoin is on the back foot, changing hands below $50,000 after surging above that line earlier in the week. Other cryptocurrencies are following suit. 

Where next for the dollar as the Fed refocuses, bonds bring action, jobs set to cause jitters

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