US PCE prices rose 0.4% for January with an annual rate at 1.9% from 1.6% and close to the Fed’s 2% target, although the core increase was held to 1.7% and unchanged from the previous month.
The ISM manufacturing index rose to 57.7 for February from 56.0 in January and this was the highest reading for over two years which maintained confidence in the outlook. The dollar was still subjected to some profit taking and the Euro rallied back above the 1.0550 level.
Fed Governor Brainard stated that the US economy appeared to be in a transition phase to a more stable growth path and that gradual interest rate increases are likely to be appropriate soon. There were also comments that a shrinking of the balance sheet could start before too long.
Given that Brainard has consistently been one of the most dovish FOMC members and resisted calls for higher rates, the commentary maintained increased expectations of a March rate increase which continued to support the dollar. The trade-weighted index hit a seven-week high and the Euro was below 1.0550 on Thursday.