Dollar Surges on Robust US Jobs Data, While Lira, Yen Slump

February 6, 2023Updated: February 6, 2023

LONDON—The dollar surged to a three-week high against the euro on Monday, with traders expecting the U.S. Federal Reserve to lift its benchmark rate above 5 percent to squeeze inflation after data showed the labor market remains strong.

An earthquake in central Turkey and northwest Syria and a strong U.S. dollar added pressure on emerging currencies sending Turkey’s lira to a record low of 18.85 against the dollar.

The Fed on Wednesday raised rates by 25 basis points and said it had turned a corner in the fight against inflation, leading investors to price in a slowdown in the pace of rate hikes going forward.

But an eye-popping U.S. nonfarm payrolls number on Friday along with a services industry rebound in January sent the dollar to a mid-January high, with investors pricing in the Fed’s policy rate peaking at 5.05 percent in June.

After a hotter-than-expected U.S. jobs report, the dollar is being closely watched, said Saxo’s market strategist, Jessica Amir.

“Several Fed speakers are due to speak and they could disagree with the Fed’s dovish tilt last week, which could spark a risk-off rally and a flight to safety which could take the U.S. dollar higher, and shave down broad indices,” she said.

The euro slipped 0.3 percent against the dollar to touch its lowest level since Jan. 12 at $1.0757. The single currency had surged to a 10-month high on Thursday after the European Central Bank lifted its deposit rate to 2.5 percent and promised a 50 basis point rate hike in March.

On Monday, Austrian central bank chief Robert Holzmann said the risk of the ECB not raising interest rates high enough was still bigger than that of lifting them too much as inflation in the euro area remained far too high.

A survey showed eurozone investor morale improved for the fourth month in a row in February to reach its highest level since March 2022, but remained in negative territory as the possibility of a stagnant economy comes into focus.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index touched a three-week high of 103.40 and was not far from that at 1207 GMT, up 0.13 percent at 103.26. The index had gained 1.1 percent on Friday.

Also boosting the safe-haven dollar was escalating tension between the United States and China after a U.S. military fighter jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday.

Yen Slides

The yen weakened after the Nikkei newspaper reported, citing anonymous government and ruling party sources, that Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya was being sounded out to be the next governor.

In a news conference on Monday, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said there was no truth to the Nikkei report.

The yen was 0.7 percent weaker at 132.10 per dollar, having touched three-week lows of 132.60 earlier in the session.

Amamiya is considered the “most dovish among the contenders, which is thrashing hopes that BOJ policy normalisation could progress under the new chief,” Saxo strategists said.

The BOJ’s loose policy settings have drawn increasing criticism from many quarters, including opposition politicians and traders, for distorting market function.

By Joice Alves

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