Dollar slips on improving European, U.K. economic outlooks, commodities bounce

A U.S. Dollar banknote
A U.S. Dollar banknote is seen in this illustration taken May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

February 23, 2021

By David Henry and Julien Ponthus

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar resumed its slide against major currencies and reached multi-year lows against the British pound and the Australian dollar on Monday, as traders focused on whether coronavirus vaccinations, economic growth expectations and higher inflation could push bond yields higher.

The U.S. dollar index was last down 0.07% in mid-morning trading in New York, ticking up from earlier lows.

The dollar has been trending down since early February following a January bounce from a 7% decline in 2020.

“The dollar continues to wax and wane with U.S. data that have painted a mixed picture of the world’s biggest economy,” Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions, said in a note on Monday.

Weakness in U.S. employment keeps undermining dollar rallies as the markets see wavering jobs data reinforcing the Federal Reserve’s commitment to keep interest rates low, Manimbo added.

The euro rose 0.2% against the dollar to $1.2142 after data showed German business morale rose more than expected in February thanks notably to the country’s resilient industrial sector.

Exchange rates between the euro and dollar will depend “on whether the U.S. economy really will be able to achieve a stronger post-lockdown boom than Europe,” Commerzbank analyst Ulrich Leuchtmann said.

The British pound was last up 0.2% to $1.4032 after reaching 1.4050, its highest level since April 2018, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a path out of lockdowns on the back of rapid vaccinations.

The U.S. dollar fell to three-year lows against the Australian dollar, which benefits from rising commodity prices. The Aussie hit $0.7908, its highest level since March 2018.

“Commodity currencies and the pound are particularly strong against the dollar, and this trend looks set to continue,” said Yukio Ishizuki, foreign exchange strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Australia on Monday began its mass COVID-19 vaccine programme as the country looked set to report no local cases for the third straight day, which gave the Aussie a boost.

(Graphic: German IFO: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/yxmpjxjaxpr/Pasted%20image%201613993744399.png)

Bitcoin plunged on Monday after surging to a new record high a day earlier as a sell-off in global equities curbed risk appetite and traders cited the unwinding of highly leveraged long positions in the cryptocurrency.

The cryptocurrency fell as much as 16%, at one point going as low as $47,400.

(Reporting by David Henry in New York and Julien Ponthus in London; Additional reporting by Stanley White in Tokyo; Editing Larry King and Paul Simao)