Dollar looks set to end week down, yen nears a 3-year low

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar headed for its first weekly decline versus major peers since the start of last month on Friday as global risk appetite rebounded, while the Japanese yen headed for a three-year low and the price of bitcoin hit nearly $60,000.

FILE PHOTO: An employee counts U.S. dollar bills at a money exchange in central Cairo, Egypt, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany./File Photo

The dollar index slipped 0.1% to 93.9 and was down 0.2% for the week in what would be its first weekly loss in six weeks. The greenback tends to rise when investors seek safety.

Global stock markets have rallied this week as fears about a stagflationary economy have been eased by forecast-beating corporate earnings in the United States.

Only against the yen – another currency seen as a haven – has the dollar managed to maintain the momentum of the past five weeks, rising 0.4% on Friday and touching 114.18 yen for the first time since November 2018.

Analysts said investors long dollars had been squeezed out of their positions in the past few days, and inflation data did not support a further rise in the currency.

“The lack of any upside surprise in US CPI (consumer price inflation) data and confirmation of existing expectations on Fed tapering in the minutes provided no catalyst for additional USD buying and hence the sell-off,” said MUFG analyst Derek Halpenny.

The greenback had rallied since early September on expectations the U.S. central bank would tighten monetary policy more quickly than previously expected amid an improving economy and surging energy prices.

Minutes of the Fed’s September meeting confirmed this week that a tapering of stimulus is all but certain to start this year, although policymakers are sharply divided over inflation and what they should do about it.

Money markets are currently pricing in about 50/50 odds of a 25 basis point rate hike by July.

The next major glimpse of the U.S. economy’s health comes later on Friday with the release of retail sales figures.

The euro edged up 0.1% to $1.1611 after touching $1.1624 on Thursday for the first time since Sept. 4.

Sterling rose 0.4% to $1.3722 following its climb to the highest since Sept. 24 at $1.3734 overnight.

The risk-sensitive Aussie dollar added 0.2% to $0.7428.

New Zealand’s kiwi dollar jumped 0.4% to $0.7061, extending Thursday’s 1% surge.

“We end the week with risk flying,” Chris Weston, head of research at brokerage Pepperstone in Melbourne, wrote in a client note.

“Equities are going up hard, and the JPY has no place as a hedge,” because it would just drag on overall portfolio performance, Weston said.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin rallied as high as $60,000, an almost six-month peak, as traders became increasingly confident that U.S. regulators would approve the launch of an exchange-traded fund based on its futures contracts.

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