LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar hit a fresh one-year high against a basket of peers on Thursday on the growing view that the Federal Reserve will taper its monetary stimulus from November, while a bounce in iron ore prices boosted the commodity-linked Australian dollar.
The safe-haven greenback has made sharp gains over the last two sessions on concern the Fed could begin withdrawing its economic support as global growth slows and inflation is high. Spikes in bond yields have added to the currency’s strength.
The rise comes despite a political standoff in Washington over the U.S. debt ceiling that threatens to shut down much of the government.
The dollar index – which measures the currency against a basket of six rivals – hit 94.504 by midday in London, its highest since Sept. 28 last year, exceeding Wednesday’s high of 94.435.
Yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note stood at 1.5289%, holding near a mid-June high reached Tuesday at 1.5670%.
“The move (in the dollar index) was widespread and on the day not accompanied by any particularly large rises in US yields nor large equity corrections lower,” ING said in a note to clients. “It feels like the move might have been driven by quarter-end corporate and institutional flows.”
The dollar bought 112.06 yen, exceeding its February 2020 high hit on Wednesday. It was on track for its worst monthly performance since March.
The euro dipped 0.24% to $1.15705, holding near Wednesday’s 14-month low of $1.15895.
“We continue to see the risk to the downside in spot (euro) amid this new low of the year,” said Kristoffer Kjær Lomholt, chief analyst at Danske Bank.
“A cyclical slowdown, higher real rates in 0-5yr, as means to weigh on global inflation, central bank divergence and valuations are generally all inputs that suggest a weaker EUR/USD.”
Speaking at a European Central Bank forum on Wednesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell, ECB President Christine Lagarde and Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said they were monitoring inflation after a surge in energy prices and production bottlenecks.
The spread on the 3-month euro-dollar cross currency basis swap tightened slightly to -21.25 basis points, after hitting their widest since December 2020 on Wednesday.
“The sudden sharp dollar bid in the 3 month EURUSD cross-currency market indicates that foreign banks (not foreign banks in the US) operating in the dollar market with domestic funds are caught short of dollars and scrambling for funding on quarter end,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management.
“That is a sure sign of excessive leverage in foreign financials in the USD market (local affiliates are regulated independently by the US).”
The risk-sensitive Australian dollar firmed 0.5% to $0.7206, after plummeting 0.9% overnight, as iron ore prices rallied ahead of the Golden Week holiday in Australia’s top trading destination China.
A rebound in monthly Chinese services data also “looks to have gone some way to allaying fears that the evident slowdown in China growth of late is accelerating to the downside,” buoying the Aussie, said Ray Attrill, NAB’s head of FX strategy.
Sterling edged up 0.1% to $1.34357 but remained near the nine-month low of $1.3412 reached overnight on concerns about soaring natural gas prices and almost a week of petrol shortages in Britain.
A slight improvement in overall risk sentiment after days of gloom was seen in the cryptocurrency markets, as bitcoin rose 5% to $43,567 and ether bounced 6.4% to $3,034.09.
Both coins are down between 20%-27% from their September peaks.
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