Dollar moves narrowly in Tokyo ahead of Yellen speech

Matt Cardy | Getty Images

Although Wall Street limped into Thursday's close, the dollar continued to march higher, buoyed by increasing odds for the Federal Reserve to hike rates later this month.

"I think that's quite fair, the United States data continues to surprise to the upside and the pricing for a Fed rate hike at the March meeting has lifted".

New York Fed President William Dudley told CNNMoney on Tuesday that the case for raising interest rates is growing.

"The story has been an aggressive reprising of the March Fed hike".

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Fed policymakers have also been buoyed in their economic outlook by a surge in business and consumer confidence since Republican Donald Trump was elected USA president.

"After dominating the markets since November, President Trump could now fade into the background as the focus shifts to the Fed and the prospect of rate increases", said Kathleen Brooks, Research Director at City Index in London.

Still, a rate increase this month isn't necessarily a certainty.

But with expectations for a firmer pace of economic growth in this year's first quarter, no one's willing to dismiss the possibility that the Fed may lift rates in March.

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All three main indexes were up more between 6% and 9% year to date, as investors continue to bid up the prices on hopes of fiscal stimulus.

Oil prices rose, while gold (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-heads-for-first-weekly-drop-in-five-ahead-of-feds-yellen-speech-2017-03-03) prices slid to finish the week with a 2.5% loss.

"We realize that waiting too long to scale back some of our support could potentially require us to raise rates rapidly sometime down the road, which in turn could risk disrupting financial markets and pushing the economy into recession", Yellen said. If the forecast is right, the upgrade may boost confidence that the Fed is considering a rate hike in March. The assumption was that Fed officials would want to assess President Trump's proposed tax cuts and increased spending for the military and infrastructure projects, after the details of those projects and the likelihood of their congressional passage became clear.

Underpinned by higher steel prices, the benchmark iron ore spot price has now risen 17.1% in 2017, extending its gain from the all-time low of $38.30 a tonne struck in mid-December 2015 to 141%. The FOMC likes to see the rate at 2 percent, and although inflation has consistently remained below that threshold, other positive factors have been overcompensating enough to warrant movement of the federal funds rate, in the Fed's estimation.

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"Fed members don't just let words slip out when they speak to the press - this was a message for the markets, and the markets have duly reacted".

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