Dollar retreats from one-month high as traders eye Biden's FX policy

The dollar index slipped about 0.1 per cent to 90.708 in the Asian session, a day before Biden is set to be inaugurated.

By Reuters

Published: Tue 19 Jan 2021, 10:00 AM

The dollar slipped from close to its highest in nearly one month on Tuesday as caution set in before US Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen testifies later, with traders keeping a close eye on the policies of the incoming Joe Biden government.

The greenback weakened against most major peers as stocks in Asia rallied, lifting risk sentiment and curbing demand for safe-haven currencies like the dollar and Japanese yen.

The dollar index slipped about 0.1 per cent to 90.708 in the Asian session, a day before US President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated.

On Monday, the gauge ended 0.1 per cent lower after earlier climbing to 90.94 for the first time since Dec. 21, as the Wall Street Journal reported Yellen will affirm a more traditional commitment to market-set currency rates in a Senate testimony on Tuesday.

That’s in stark contrast to outgoing President Donald Trump, who often railed against dollar strength.

The greenback has started the year with a near 2 per cent rally against major peers, supported by a rise U.S. Treasury yields in response to Biden’s plan for a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package.

The dollar fell close to 7 per cent last year on expectations U.S. monetary policy would stay ultra-loose and amid hopes for a post-pandemic global recovery.

Many analysts expect the dollar to resume its march lower this year.

“We’ve seen comments from Janet Yellen that she won’t be pursuing a weak dollar policy per se, but that doesn’t mean that the overall impact of Fed policy won’t keep the dollar weakening,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at broker CMC Markets in Sydney.

“I suspect what we’ve been seeing in the dollar at the moment is a minor corrective rally in an overall downtrend.”

The greenback has also been supported recently by an unwinding of bearish bets, with data showing that hedge funds piled up the biggest net short position since May 2011 in the week ended Jan. 12. Such large positions suggest that traders would be relatively more inclined to reduce their positions than add to already big bets.

The euro rose 0.2 per cent to $1.2095, after dipping to $1.2054 for the first time since Dec. 2 on Monday, in subdued trading with U.S. markets closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The riskier Aussie dollar rose 0.3 per cent to 77.082 U.S. cents, reversing a decline of more than 0.2 per cent overnight.

The dollar gained 0.3 per cent to 104.05 yen, although still consolidating in a narrow range after reaching a one-month high of 104.40 last week.

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