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Monday, 30 January 2017

Dollar slips on lacklustre U.S. data, concerns over Trump trade policy


The dollar fell on Monday, nudged off a one-week high against a basket of currencies after Treasury yields declined on data showing the U.S. economy growing more slowly than expected.

Underlying concerns over U.S. President's Donald Trump's protectionist trade stance also cut short the dollar's stay at the one-week peak, with a temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries imposed at the weekend adding another layer of uncertainty.

The dollar was down 0.6 percent at 114.410 yen after it rise on Friday to 115.380, its highest since Jan. 20.

The euro added to Friday's modest gains and was last 0.3 percent higher at $1.0733.

"The weak U.S. GDP is doing the dollar no favours. But it also takes courage to keep buying the dollar considering what Trump has said about the kind of a currency policy he could pursue," said Daisuke Karakama, market economist at Mizuho Bank in Tokyo.

Trump, who favours bilateral trade deals instead of multilateral agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), late last week proposed clauses preventing currency manipulation in bilateral trade agreements.

The proposal was seen putting pressure on U.S. trade partners to accept a weaker dollar. Trump has hinted that he does not want a strong dollar because it makes U.S. exports less competitive.

"Previously, the unspoken rule was that a government did not bind down the currency policies of another, but such norms now look to be overridden," Karakama at Mizuho Bank said.

Data on Friday showed U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 1.9 percent annualised pace in the final three months of 2016, compared with a 3.5 percent rate in the third quarter. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast GDP growth of 2.2 percent.

"The correlation between the dollar and U.S. yields still remains relatively strong, and it is being weighed down after the lacklustre GDP release," said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

The dollar has been volatile since Donald Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20. Market focus has been caught between Trump's protectionist slant, seen as negative for the greenback, and hopes for fiscal stimulus under the new president, considered a positive for the currency.

The dollar index against a basket of major currencies fell to a seven-week low of 99.793 on Thursday before clawing back to a one-week high of 100.82 a day later. The index was down 0.3 percent at 100.320 on Monday.

Apart from Trump, market focus was on monetary policy, with the Bank of Japan, the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England holding policy meetings this week.

"None of the central bank meetings is expected to result in any change in policy, but there could be a change in nuance that affects currencies," wrote Marshall Gittler, head of investment research at FXPrimus.


"Meanwhile, the surge of executive orders and Twitter comments coming out of the White House shows no signs of slowing down, and with them the gyrations in the U.S. bond market and therefore the dollar are likely to continue."

The pound was up 0.4 percent at $1.2594 against a broadly weaker dollar, paring Friday's losses.

The Australian dollar was 0.1 percent higher at $0.7556 and the New Zealand dollar was also 0.1 percent firmer, at $0.7272 .

Liquidity in Asia was lower than usual with financial markets in Hong Kong, China and Singapore shut for the Lunar New Year holidays.


Reference: Shinichi Saoshiro

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