Strong US economy, weaker stocks boost dollar

The greenback outperformed most major currencies, underpinned by the robust US economy and rising interest rates. — Reuters pic
The greenback outperformed most major currencies, underpinned by the robust US economy and rising interest rates. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Nov 10 — The US dollar rose toward a 16-month high against the euro yesterday as falling equity prices spurred a flight to quality and the US Federal Reserve reaffirmed its monetary tightening stance, citing the strong US economy.

The S&P 500 fell more than 1 per cent, with shares of large technology, industrial and material companies taking a hit as weak Chinese data and a slide in oil prices raised concerns about global growth.

Against the backdrop of a multi-billion dollar trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, Chinese data showed producer inflation fell for the fourth straight month in October on cooling domestic demand and manufacturing activity, while car sales fell for a fourth consecutive month.

“(Chinese officials) look distressed — they don’t have the kind of control we’re used to assuming authorities driving an economy at 6-7 per cent a year do. That’s putting pressure on the Aussie, Kiwi and feeding into a strong dollar and yen,” said David Gilmore, partner at FX Analytics.

Equities also fell after the Fed on Thursday reaffirmed its plans to hike interest rates in December and beyond.

The greenback had fallen broadly following US congressional elections on Tuesday on expectations that the outcome would make further fiscal stimulus measures unlikely.

But the currency bounced back, and yesterday returned to outperforming most major currencies, underpinned by the robust US economy and rising interest rates.

“We’re wary of selling the dollar too soon, because the Fed is still hiking rates into a tightening labour market and trade tensions haven’t gone away,” said Kit Juckes, chief FX Strategist at Societe Generale.

The dollar has benefited as rising US-China trade tensions boosted demand for safe-haven investments, pushing the offshore Chinese yuan toward 7 per dollar and the euro toward US$1.13.

In Japan, where interest rates are expected to stay extremely low, the yen is near a five-week low against

the dollar, last at ¥113.75, and has fallen 1.6 per cent over the last 10 trading sessions.

The dollar index, which tracks the currency against six major peers, traded as high as 97.01 yesterday, not far from a 16-month peak of 97.2 touched on October 31.

The euro last traded at US$1.133, down 0.26 per cent.

Sterling extended its losses yesterday after Jo Johnson, a junior transport minister, resigned from UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, citing her “delusional” Brexit plans, and called for another referendum on Britain’s EU membership.

The currency was down 0.54 per cent at US$1.297 from around US$1.304 before the announcement from Johnson.

Yesterday afternoon, the Mexican peso strengthened by 0.3 per cent to 20.13 versus the dollar after the country’s President-elect, Lopez Obrador, said he would make no changes to the legal framework of the financial sector. — Reuters

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