Dollar falls as yields languish, euro gets extra late-day lift

04/23/2021 | 04:04pm

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar fell against major currencies on Friday as U.S. yields languished and the euro got an extra late-day lift following a earlier boost from an upbeat survey of purchasing managers.

The dollar index fell 0.5% to 90.8080, a level not seen since early March, after the euro climbed 0.7% to $1.2098, pushing through its earlier high for the week.

More than half of the euro's appreciation came late in the day after the market digested earlier economic news.

"This is thin markets on a Friday afternoon," said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex in New York. "The euro making new highs for the week late in the day suggests it is going to have momentum into next week."

The exaggerated move came after the markets saw a European purchasing managers' index for April come in better than expected, supporting the view that the region's economic recovery is accelerating and won't keep lagging so far behind the U.S. recovery.

A similar U.S. survey showed factory activity powered ahead in April. Another report said new home sales in the United States jumped 21% in March. Both affirmed that the economy was being lifted by government stimulus and increased vaccinations against the coronavirus.

The U.S. survey results were tempered by manufacturers reporting increased struggles to get raw materials and other supplies for production.

Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries traded in a narrow range through the news and were at 1.56% late in the day, about four basis points lower than at the start of the week.

Until the late-day boost to the euro, Chandler said Friday's major currency markets were largely "a continuation of what we have seen since the beginning of the month," with the dollar losing much that it had gained earlier in the year as yields climbed to 1.75% on March 31.

"The dollar had a very strong first quarter and the market is still unwinding that," Chandler said.

The dollar in the first quarter gained 3.6% but it has lost about 2.6% so far in April.

Markets now are looking toward next week's meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve Open Market Committee to review monetary policy and the economy.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is expected to echo Thursday's message from European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde that scaled back some expectations for a withdrawal of monetary easing.

Powell's remarks could put more downward pressure on Treasury yields and limit any bounce of the dollar.

Auctions of U.S. Treasuries next week are not likely to be big factor, Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank told the Reuters Global Markets forum on Friday.

"There still appears to be good demand for Treasury product," Osborne said.

"The FOMC will likely be the highlight of a busy data week for the U.S.," Osborne said.

Overall, he expects that "low yields, low volatility plus strengthening global growth should drive diversification away from the USD to riskier assets."

The Australian and New Zealand dollars firmed on Friday, but traders said risks are pointed to the downside due to the recent weakening in commodity prices.

The British pound rose 0.3% on the day..

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies trimmed some losses that had come out of concern that U.S. President Joe Biden's plan to raise capital gains taxes will curb investment in digital assets. Bitcoin, the biggest and most popular cryptocurrency, slumped as much as 5% and fell below $50,000 for the first time since early March. It was down 1.5% to $50,932 at 21495 GMT. Smaller rival Ether was down fell about 2%.

(Reporting by David Henry in New York and Tommy Wilkes in London; Editing by John Stonestreet, Steve Orlofsky, Andrew Heavens and David Gregorio)

By David Henry

© Reuters 2021
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