US dollar recovers in quiet markets; uptrend intact

NEW YORK - The U.S. dollar resumed its march towards its 2008 peaks against a currency basket on Wednesday, still bolstered by persistent worries about the deteriorating economic prospects in countries outside the United States.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 20 Aug 2008, 9:48 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:55 AM

The dollar index .DXY firmed on the ICE Futures Exchange after retreating much of the New York session on Tuesday as investors took profits following a 2008 high hit earlier that day on global markets.

Traders resumed buying the currency on Wednesday on what was seen as consolidation in the absence of fresh market-moving news, economic data or policymakers' speeches.

Some market players said it was more a result of short-term position adjustment than anything else, following a nearly unbroken rise over the past two weeks.

"We're seeing this slightly bid tone in the U.S. dollar, but there's no real direction in the market. It's just uninspiring," said C.J. Gavsie, managing director for foreign exchange sales at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

"Nothing has changed fundamentally" and the same concerns about Europe and other economies over the past month have continued to undermine other currencies outside of the U.S. dollar, Gavsie added.

In early New York trading, the dollar index, a measure of its value against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.3 percent on the day at 76.985 .DXY.

On Tuesday, it rose to a high for the year of 77.413.

The euro was down 0.4 percent at $1.4730 EUR, but up about a cent from its six-month low of around $1.4631 hit on Tuesday.

The dollar gained a third of a percent on the yen to 110.01 yen JPY, within sight of the seven-month high of 110.67 yen hit last week.

Rate expectations favor US dollar

Investors' views on the risks to both the U.S. and global economy appeared to be more balanced than they have been in recent weeks, when a sharp deterioration in the outlook for other countries gave the dollar a strong lift.

Interest rate expectations and differentials have shifted sharply in the dollar's favour, but in the absence of further pointers from data or policymakers, there was less scope for that move to continue.

For example, futures markets no longer expect the European Central Bank to raise rates this year, half a percentage point of U.K. rate cuts over the next six months are almost fully discounted, and more aggressive Reserve Bank of Australia easing is already factored in.

In the United States, the economic picture and banking sector are still perceived to be shaky, but the outlook is much more optimistic than it was at the beginning of the year, analysts said.

"We view the recent dollar rally as driven primarily by lower expectations for non-U.S. growth and related interest rates moves with some additional help from shifts in speculative positions towards dollar longs," said Goldman Sachs in a research note on Wednesday.

"Longer-term, we are starting to see the seeds of more structural improvement in U.S. external imbalances, and this is the key reason why we have a dollar appreciation trend in the forecast looking 12-months ahead," it added.

Still worries about the financial sector remained a drag on the U.S. economy, specifically those on U.S. agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which some analysts fear may need a government bailout.

"Investors are anxious about whether the major move (lately) represents lasting dollar strength or is just a major correction at a time when liquidity is poorest in July and August and moves are exaggerated," said Teis Knuthsen, head of FX research at Danske Markets in Copenhagen.

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