Dollar index at five-month high as euro slips on Italian woes

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was up 0.19 per cent at 93.393, after rising as high as 93.632, its highest since December 19. ― Reuters pic
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was up 0.19 per cent at 93.393, after rising as high as 93.632, its highest since December 19. ― Reuters pic

NEW YORK, May 17 ― The dollar added to recent gains against a basket of currencies yesterday to touch a five-month high, supported by relatively robust US economic data in recent days, while the euro was hit by reports that a likely future Italian government would seek debt forgiveness from European creditors.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was up 0.19 per cent at 93.393, after rising as high as 93.632, its highest since December 19.

The greenback has risen about 1.7 per cent this month, boosted by a view that the Federal Reserve will outpace most major central banks in policy normalization.

“There's been some improved sentiment on conditions in the US compared with other parts of the world,” said Sireen Harajli, foreign exchange strategist at Mizuho in New York.

“Essentially, the dollar is stronger mostly because the rest of the world is not,” said Harajli.

US factory output rose in April, although new estimates of manufacturing and overall industrial production showed less growth in prior months than initially believed.

The US currency got a boost on Tuesday when strong US consumer spending numbers sent 10-year Treasury yields surging to a seven-year peak of 3.095 per cent.

On Wednesday, the move in the greenback was largely driven by news out of Europe, said Alfonso Esparza, senior currency analyst at OANDA in Toronto.

The euro was 0.3 per cent lower against the greenback at US$1.1801 (RM4.68), its lowest since December, after reports that Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and anti-immigrant League may ask the European Central Bank to forgive €250 billion of debt.

The euro was 0.31 per cent lower against the Swiss franc, after dropping to a five-week low of 1.1772 francs. The Swiss franc typically attracts capital in times of uncertainty.

“Whenever there is euroskepticism on the rise you are definitely going to see this type of a move in the euro,” said Esparza.

“It's just one of the factors that reminds us again that European growth is slowing down,” he said.

Euro zone inflation slowed in April, European statistics agency Eurostat said yesterday, confirming an earlier flash estimate and adding to the headache of European Central Bank policy makers seeking to phase out monetary stimulus.

Against the yen, the dollar was down 0.11 per cent at ¥110.22, but still close to the highest it has been since early February.

Japan's economy contracted more than expected at the start of this year, suggesting growth has peaked after the best run of expansion in decades, unwelcome news for a government struggling to get traction for its reflationary policies.

Sterling fell towards its lowest point of the year against the dollar and was down 0.18 per cent on the day, amid fresh worries about Britain's Brexit negotiations and relatively modest UK wage growth. ― Reuters

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