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Dollar Down, Investors Digest Chinese Inflation Data

The dollar was down on Wednesday morning in Asia with investors awaiting upcoming U.S. inflation data while digesting that released by China earlier in the day.

They also await a European Central Bank (ECB) policy decision to further gauge the economic recovery from COVID-19 and central banks’ potential next steps.

The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies inched down 0.02% to 90.062 by 11:30 PM ET (3:30 AM GMT).

The USD/JPY pair inched down 0.03% to 109.45. The AUD/USD pair inched down 0.03% to 0.7738 and the NZD/USD pair inched down 0.01% to 0.7197.

The USD/CNY pair inched down 0.07% to 6.3953. China’s consumer price index (CPI) for May, released earlier in the day, contracted 0.2% month-on-month and grew 1.3% year-on-year, both below forecasts. Meanwhile, the producer price index (PPI) grew a better-than-expected 9% year-on-year.

Yuan bulls’ recent enthusiasm was also damped by the passage of a bill in the U.S. Senate aimed at countering the economic as well as strategic challenge from China.

The GBP/USD pair inched up 0.06% to 1.4163. However, concern is growing that the rising case numbers of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the U.K. could mean a delay in the ending of lockdown measures. The measures are currently slated to end on Jun 21.

Investors continued to bet against the greenback but remained concerned about whether central banks would begin to withdraw their unprecedented stimulus measures. Also of interest is whether rising interest rates will end a 15-month dollar downtrend.

Some investors predicted that higher-than-forecast inflation in the U.S. could prompt central banks to begin tapering their asset purchases and give the dollar a boost. However, moves were small ahead of the U.S. data, including the CPI, and the ECO policy decision, both of which are due on Thursday.

"Markets need reassurance that the global economic recovery isn't under threat from either dangerous strains of COVID-19, or from the Fed being forced to change tack (on stimulus) much earlier than expected... so far, the vaccines appear to work and while distribution is uneven... it's still accelerating overall," Societe Generale (OTC:SCGLY) currency strategist Kit Juckes told Reuters.

"That's cause for hope. For markets though, it means that risk assets need regular reassurance that the Fed isn't going to tighten sooner than expected. And so, we wait for Thursday's CPI data, then the following week's U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting,” he added.

The Bank of Canada will also hand down its policy decision later in the day.

However, other investors focused their attention on inflation.

"U.S. economists are expecting a 0.4% month-on-month rise in both the headline and the core inflation numbers, they're big numbers... I think the risk is they fall short of that,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:CMWAY) currency strategist Joe Capurso told Reuters.

This could pull down U.S. yields and bring the dollar with them unless the figure spooked stock markets' enough to drive safe-haven flows into the dollar, he added.