The Australian dollar was one of the worst performing currencies in Wednesday’s Asian session after it plunged following data showing the weakest pace of inflation in Australia in three years. Headline CPI came in at 0.5% quarter-on-quarter in the three months to September compared to 0.7% in the prior quarter. This missed forecasts of a 0.7% number. Meanwhile, compared to a year earlier, CPI rose 1.5%, below expectations for a 1.7% rise.
The Australian dollar fell sharply against the US dollar from a pre-data high of 0.7205 to a session low of 0.7110 as the softer inflation number increases the chances of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia at its Tuesday, November 3 meeting.
Retail sales in Japan disappointed today, weakening the yen briefly and leading to a rally in the Nikkei. Data showed retail sales fell 0.2% year-on-year in September, which contradicted expectations for a 0.4% gain. This was a sharp reversal from the 0.8% rise in sales in August. The disappointing data would be bad news for the Bank of Japan which holds a monetary policy meeting on Friday. There have been increasing expectations recently for more stimulus measures to be taken by the BoJ, with some economists expecting a move this week.
The yen fell briefly against the dollar after the data but soon recovered due to the greenback being under pressure ahead of the FOMC meeting later today. The dollar/yen pair traded in a range during the Asian session between 120.23 and 120.53. The dollar was weakened on Tuesday after some disappointing US economic data. US consumer confidence fell to 97.6 this month from a reading of 102.6 in September while durable goods orders fell by 1.2% last month.
The soft data has made investors a little nervous ahead of the FOMC policy announcement later today. Investors will look for any indications to be given by the Fed on the timing of a rate hike. The euro and the pound were flat ahead of this key risk event. The euro traded around 1.1040 while sterling hovered at 1.5340.