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US dollar starts week under shadow of underwhelming data, North Korea

Monday, May 15, 2017 - 08:56

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The US dollar started the week on the defensive on Monday, after US economic data came in shy of expectations and another missile test by North Korea over the weekend underpinned the perceived safe-haven yen.

[TOKYO] The US dollar started the week on the defensive on Monday, after US economic data came in shy of expectations and another missile test by North Korea over the weekend underpinned the perceived safe-haven yen.

The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was slightly lower on the day at 99.226. The US dollar slipped 0.1 per cent against its Japanese counterpart to 113.28 yen.

On Monday, North Korea said it had successfully conducted a newly developed mid-to-long range missile test on Sunday, supervised by leader Kim Jong Un and aimed at verifying the capability to carry a "large scale heavy nuclear warhead," according to the North's official KCNA news agency.

The North fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia on Sunday in a launch that Washington called a message to South Korea, days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.

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Market voices on:

On Friday, US data showed a smaller-than-expected 0.4 per cent increase in April retail sales from the previous month, while a disappointing report on consumer prices raised concerns about the retail sector and the broader economy.

"The data was weaker than expected, but not weak enough to keep the dollar under pressure for long," said Mitsuo Imaizumi, Tokyo-based chief foreign-exchange strategist for Daiwa Securities.

"The North Korean missile news over the weekend gave the yen some lift, but not much," he said.

"Overall, we see the dollar trading in its recent ranges for the time being, with investors focused on next month's FOMC meeting."

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates at its meeting next month. The central bank has forecast two more hikes this year after a quarter point increase in March.

The euro edged down 0.1 per cent to US$1.0924.

Net dollar long positions fell in the week ended May 9 to their lowest since early October, according to calculations by Reuters and US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday.

In that week, the euro marked its first net long positioning since early May 2014, as investors breathed a collective sigh of relief following pro-European Emmanuel Macron's victory over anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round of France's presidential election on May 7.

REUTERS

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