FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar notes are seen in this November 7, 2016 picture illustration. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
October 21, 2020
By Tom Westbrook
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The dollar hit a one-month low on Wednesday as investors who are optimistic about a pre-election U.S. stimulus package sought out riskier currencies, while the strong recovery in China’s economy helped drive the yuan to a two-year high.
President Donald Trump has raised hopes for a stimulus breakthrough, saying he was willing to accept a large aid bill, despite opposition from his own Republican Party.
That sent U.S. 10-year Treasury yields <US10YT=RR> to a four-month high, in anticipation of more government borrowing, and pressed the dollar index <=USD> to its lowest level since September by boosting investors’ mood.
Doubts that any package can actually pass the Senate are keeping the dollar from breaching last month’s two-year lows.
The dollar index was last down about 0.1% in Asia.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars, which have lagged other majors’ gains on the greenback due to expectations of monetary easing in both countries, each rose about 0.4%. [AUD/]
The euro <EUR=> hit a one-month high of $1.1844.
“U.S. stimulus faith remains in play,” said Sook Mei Leong, ASEAN head of global markets research at MUFG in Singapore.
“This is notwithstanding that euro/dollar remains vulnerable to the stream of … increases in COVID-19 cases and crimped economic activities from the re-introduction of lockdowns.”
Such worries and the drawn-out and oscillating fortunes of the U.S. stimulus bill have held the dollar in its range this month and will determine its next moves.
The Japanese yen <JPY=> has likewise been held in stasis as the brightening mood weakens the greenback, but the simultaneous rise in U.S. yields attracts investment flows from Japan out of yen and in to dollars. The yen edged up 0.1% on Wednesday.
“All eyes are on whether a U.S. stimulus bill is agreed upon,” Kim Mundy, currency analyst at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney, said in a note.
“Without a more aggressive U.S. fiscal thrust, the U.S. economic recovery is at risk and the dollar is vulnerable to a renewed bout of strength in the short-term.”
YUAN SHOW IN TOWN
In contrast to the dollar’s dependence on stimulus hopes, the yuan extended a remarkable rally on Wednesday, hitting a 27-month high and pulling China-exposed Asian currencies with it.
The yuan has soared 7.6% on the dollar since May as China has led the global coronavirus recovery and its stock and bond markets have soaked up offshore capital flows.
A firm onshore guidance rate fixing on Wednesday assuaged worries that policymakers are concerned about its rise.
“China is the strongest economic story in town, relative to Europe and the U.S.,” said Bank of Singapore currency analyst Moh Siong Sim. A Joe Biden presidency, he added, could also provide support by calming Sino-U.S. relations.
Data on Monday showed China’s economic growth accelerating as the pandemic recedes, and a state planning official on Wednesday said auto sales and production could hit last year’s levels.
The yuan <CNY=> was last up 0.2% at 6.6532. Its rise helped lift the Australian dollar <AUD=>, weighed down by expectations of a rate cut in November, from Tuesday’s three-week low.
The South Korean won <KRW=>, Singapore dollar <SGD=> and Thai baht <THB=> also rallied. The Indonesian rupiah <IDR=> hit a two-week high after solid demand in a Tuesday debt auction.
Later on Wednesday, preliminary Australian retail sales figures are due. At 0730 GMT, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and chief economist Philip Lane host a broad strategy review event in Frankfurt.
The U.S. Federal Reserve releases its “Beige Book” economic survey at 1800 GMT.
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Sam Holmes)