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Hopes of US tax cuts lift US dollar index to 3-week high

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The US dollar rose to a near three-week high against a basket of currencies on Monday, lifted by hopes of US tax cuts to stoke corporate profits and investments, as well as bets on whether the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates more quickly.

[NEW YORK] The US dollar rose to a near three-week high against a basket of currencies on Monday, lifted by hopes of US tax cuts to stoke corporate profits and investments, as well as bets on whether the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates more quickly.

The greenback last week booked its strongest gain since mid-December after US President Donald Trump on Thursday promised a "phenomenal" tax plan that the White House said would include tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

Investors hope Mr Trump's promise of a tax plan signals that the focus of the president and his aides is shifting away from trade protectionism and security, and toward policies that promote economic growth.

"People seemed to be more comfortable with the fiscal policy outlook. It's been friendly for stocks and also for the dollar," said Thierry Albert Wizman, global interest rates and currencies strategist at Macquarie Group Ltd in New York.

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The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against six other currencies, reached 101.11, its strongest level since Jan 20. It was last up 0.15 per cent at 100.95.

The US dollar advanced to a two-week peak against the yen following reports that Mr Trump did not discuss the currency or its strength during weekend talks with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The US dollar was last up 0.4 per cent at 113.60 yen.

The outcome of the two leaders' meeting was an affirmation for Japan in the face of challenges such as China's maritime expansion and North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development.

The euro slipped to its lowest level against the US dollar since Jan 19, Reuters data showed. The single currency was last down 0.4 per cent at US$1.0600.

Investors are also focused on testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday in the wake of hints from other policy-makers who are leaning toward more hikes in interest rates this year than the two currently priced in by markets.

"I doubt that she will try to explicitly jawbone the markets to expect a March move, but I also do not think she wants March to be priced out," Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, wrote in a research note.

Interest rates futures implied traders saw a 21 per cent chance the Fed will increase rates at its March 14-15 policy meeting, little changed from Friday, according to CME Group's FedWatch programme.

REUTERS

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