Dollar buoyant as economic outlook brightens

FILE PHOTO: A picture illustration shows U.S. 100 dollar bank notes taken in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO: A picture illustration shows U.S. 100 dollar bank notes taken in Tokyo August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao/File Photo

March 26, 2021

By Jessica DiNapoli and Tom Wilson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar hovered near its highest since November against major currencies on Friday, propelled by optimism over U.S. coronavirus vaccines and the economy, and rose to its highest against the Japanese yen since June.

Against a basket of six major currencies, the greenback stood at 92.813, not far off a four-month high hit a day earlier and on course for a weekly gain of 0.9%. It was shrugging off data showing that consumer spending recently fell.

The dollar-yen also rose to 109.80, roughly the highest since June.

“The dollar has made quite a bit of a comeback so far this year. Many have been reconsidering the bearish sentiment that’s been around the dollar since the middle of last year,” said Minh Trang, senior foreign exchange trader at Silicon Valley Bank. “Markets are basically expecting that the success of vaccine rollout will lead to higher inflation, and force the Fed to reconsider, and rates will have to move up sooner than what is being projected. That’s translating to the currency market.”

Against the Swiss franc, the dollar rose to its highest since July.

Yields on U.S. Treasuries rose but held below recent highs.

U.S. jobless claims fell to a one-year low last week and President Joe Biden said he would double his vaccination plan after reaching his previous goal of 100 million shots 42 days ahead of schedule, both of which support optimism about the dollar.

The euro managed to claw back ground from Thursday’s four-month low, though the common currency is still bruised by doubts over the slow pace of vaccinations and rising infections.

In a fillip for the euro, business morale in the euro zone’s biggest economy Germany hit its highest level in almost two years in March as rising demand for manufactured goods kept factories humming through rising coronavirus infections and lockdown restrictions.

The euro has been under pressure as worries about the European Union’s slow vaccination rollout and bickering with former member Britain over vaccine exports become a dominant theme, traders said, adding that rising cases were a concern.

Elsewhere, bitcoin gained as much as 4%, helping recover some of its pullback from a record high of almost $62,000 touched earlier this month. It was last up 3.69% at $53,185.

(Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli and Tom Wilson, additional reporting by Stanley White in Tokyo; editing by Larry King, Hugh Lawson and Jonathan Oatis)