EUR/USD flat after Fed minutes provide clues of likely rate hike

Shutterstock photo - -- EUR/USD was relatively unchanged on Wednesday after the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's October meeting showed that the majority of the committee's participants appear ready to raise interest rates when it meets again in mid-December.

The currency pair traded in a tight range between 1.0617 and 1.0692 before settling at 1.0659, up 0.0016 or 0.15% on the session. The euro closed under 1.085 against the dollar for the eighth consecutive session in spite of halting a three session losing streak. Over the last month of trading, the euro has fallen more than 6% against its American counterpart as the pair steadily moves toward parity.

EUR/USD likely gained support at 1.0519, the low from April 13 and was met with resistance at 1.1496, the high from Oct. 15.

As expected, the FOMC held its benchmark Federal Funds Rate at a near-zero level at both of its meetings this fall following China's unexpected decision to devalue the yuan in late-August. At a critical meeting in September, the FOMC voted 9-1 to hold the rate between zero and 0.25%, amid significant concerns abroad. Last month, though, the FOMC noted that nearly all of its participants were in agreement that the global financial risks had diminished over the prior few weeks, the minutes showed. Investors have been awaiting a move for months since the Fed ended a comprehensive Quantitative Easing program last fall aimed at jumpstarting the U.S. economy. The rate has remained near zero since December, 2008 at the height of the Financial Crisis.

Before the minutes were released, a trio of regional bankers sent further indications that a rate hike could be imminent. Appearing on a panel alongside New York Fed president William Dudley and Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester, Atlanta Fed president Dennis Lockhart noted that the economy has improved enough for the Fed to strongly consider a rate hike in December.

"I am comfortable with moving off zero soon, conditioned on no marked deterioration in economic conditions," Lockhart said at the Clearing House Payments System Risk Symposium in New York. "I believe it will soon be appropriate to begin a new policy phase."

Dudley, meanwhile, noted that he does not expect to see any unpredictable market reactions when the Fed eventually decides to normalize policy since the potential move has been so well-documented in recent weeks. The New York Fed has a number of tools at its disposal to help adjust the Fed Funds Rate once the decision is made.

The CME Group's (O:CME) Fed Watch increased the probability of a December rate hike by eight points to 72% on Wednesday, before it fell back slightly to 68% at the close of trading.

The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, reached a seven-month high of 99.96, before closing on Wednesday at 96.66. The index has not eclipsed 100 since mid-March. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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