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US dollar hits 3-week low as US data fails to override yuan surge

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The US dollar fell to a three-week low against a basket of major currencies on Thursday after US inflation and unemployment data failed to reverse a downtrend that followed some of the biggest gains on record for China's yuan.

[NEW YORK] The US dollar fell to a three-week low against a basket of major currencies on Thursday after US inflation and unemployment data failed to reverse a downtrend that followed some of the biggest gains on record for China's yuan.

A rise in overnight borrowing costs in Hong Kong helped the offshore yuan to its highest rate against the dollar in nearly two months and the largest two-day rise since its inception in 2010.

That in turn triggered profit-taking on the US dollar, which fell to its lowest since Dec 14 as more investors piled on to the selling.

The US dollar index, a measure of the greenback against six world currencies, fell 1.3 per cent to a low of 101.300. It was the worst one-day percentage loss since Sept 6.

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The US dollar's steep dive was the result of investors having to reduce or reverse bets on the greenback as momentum shifted in the market, said Deutsche Bank's Global Head of FX Strategy Alan Ruskin.

"If you're looking for any catalyst it was China... and it turned into a cascade and into a squeeze in a lot of the favoured trades that we started the year with," he said.

The US dollar was last down 1.4 per cent against the yen and around one per cent lower versus the euro and Swiss franc.

The greenback hit its lowest against the yen since Dec 14 and lowest against the euro and Swiss franc since Dec 30.

Investors shook off promising data on the US economy, including the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing purchasing managers index, which showed new orders and prices paid at their highest levels since Aug 2015 and Aug 2014, respectively.

US jobless claims fell to a 43-year low last week, but that data was countered by a report from payrolls processor ADP showing employment gains were soft in December.

That put the US dollar back on its lower trajectory after a brief stall following the release of the jobless claims figure as investors refocused attention on China's strong yuan.

"All we're seeing is a continuation of the overnight move, which is dollar weakness," said Douglas Borthwick, managing director at Chapdelaine Foreign Exchange.

"Obviously that's also helped by the significant intervention by the Chinese overnight." Mr Borthwick also said sentiment was growing among investors that the US dollar's strength has peaked as many return to markets after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

REUTERS

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