(Reuters) - The dollar rose against a swath of currencies on Friday, rocketing to 4-1/2-year high against Japan's yen as data showing a robust rebound in U.S. consumer sentiment prompted investors to pile on bullish bets.
over whether the Federal Reserve would wind down its asset buying program later
this year gathered pace, helping push the dollar upward against a basket of
currencies to a near three-year peak.
The greenback broke through the
103-yen mark after a report showed U.S. consumer sentiment in early May rose to
the highest in nearly six years as Americans felt more confident about their
financial and economic prospects.
The dollar was also buoyed by a rise in
U.S. Treasury yields, which more inversely to price, although yields were
"The consumer sentiment report fed into the story of the U.S.
(economy) outperforming other countries," said Sebastien Galy, FX strategist at
Soci?t? G?n?rale in New York.
"Markets want to be long the dollar and
there is a snowball effect going on," he said. "Markets are also desperate for
trends and once they identify one they forge ahead, forcing people to build up
dollar positions, particularly as a cross asset hedge."
The dollar rose
as high as 103.12 yen and last traded at 102.98 yen, up 0.7 percent on the day.
Investors took Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's latest growth strategy in
The dollar index, which measures its value against a basket of
six major currencies, rose to 84.371 - its highest in nearly three years. It
last traded at 84.224, up 0.8 percent on the day.
"It is a pure dollar
story right now and with many investors underhedged in emerging markets, they
are covering those positions," Galy said.
EURO WEIGHED ECB
The euro, meanwhile, fell to a six-week low against the
dollar, weighed by talk that the European Central Bank was checking banks'
preparedness to handle a potential cut in its deposit rates.
positive about the U.S. economic recovery despite recent weak data and today's
theme is mostly about the broadly strong dollar," said Charles St-Arnaud, FX
strategist at Nomura Securities.
"Meanwhile, data in the euro zone shows
they remain in a recession and raised expectations the ECB will take further
action is weighing on the euro," he said.
The euro fell as low as
$1.2795, its lowest since April 4. It last traded at $1.2818, down 0.5 percent
on the day.
Against the yen, the euro was at 131.98, up 0.2
"The negative deposit rate talk is a threat that the ECB is
using to keep the euro lower," said Ian Gunner, portfolio manager at Altana Hard
Currency Fund. "I doubt with the Bundesbank on board, the ECB will implement
Lowering the deposit rate to negative would make holding euros
unattractive and lead to a broad sell off, traders say.
ECB board members
Joerg Asmussen and Benoit Coeure said that monetary policy will remain
accommodative, bolstering a view the central bank could use unconventional
measures like introducing negative deposit rates in coming months to support the
Investors added to favorable bets on the dollar,
drawing support from comments by a regional Federal Reserve chief who said the
Fed could begin easing up on stimulus this summer.
San Francisco Fed
President John Williams said the U.S. central bank could completely exit its
easing by the end of the year.
Although Williams is not a voter this year
at the Federal Open Market Committee, his views carry weight as they are often
considered close to those of top Fed officials such as Chairman Ben Bernanke and
Vice Chair Janet Yellen.
Bernanke and Yellen want to keep monetary policy
ultra-loose for a longer period of time, while other policymakers, such as
Richmond Fed chief Jeffrey Lacker say the economy's prospects are improving and
the pace of asset purchases can be reduced.
"His comments took the market
by surprise since he is a dove," said Peter Kinsella, currency strategist at
"It is a dollar story this year as the U.S. labor and
housing markets appear to be recovering. And while we do expect the Fed to be
cautious in withdrawing stimulus, the economic recovery should drive the dollar
higher," he said.