Dollar drops to eight-month low as commodity currencies climb

Dollar Bills United States one dollar bills are seen on a light table at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington in this November 14, 2014, file photo. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/Files

By Jemima Kelly

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar fell to its weakest since late August against a basket of currencies on Tuesday, while commodity-linked currencies climbed, as a rise in oil prices whetted investors’ appetite for riskier assets across financial markets.

The greenback has been subject to a heavy sell-off over the past month, losing 5 percent <.DXY> as investors have pushed back their expectations for when the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. interest rates after Chair Janet Yellen threw into doubt the view there could be two hikes this year.

Fed funds futures <0#FF:> imply barely one quarter point increase for the whole of 2016, with only about a 20 percent chance of a hike in June priced in.

The dollar index <.DXY>, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, fell to as low as 93.627.

With a rise in commodity prices and rallying global stocks boosting investors’ assets for riskier assets, commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian dollar <AUD=D4> and Norwegian crown <NOK=> gained strongly against their U.S. counterpart, further bruising the greenback.

“It appears that for now, markets are turning their noses up at the prospect that more gloomy earnings that might trigger some more negative risk sentiment,” said Rabobank currency strategist Jane Foley in London, adding that the dollar’s sell-off looked a little “overdone”.

Against the safe-haven yen, though, the dollar strengthened 0.3 percent, having hit a 1-1/2-year low of 107.63 yen <JPY=D4> on Monday. The yen had its strongest start to a year since 2008 in the first quarter <JPY=> as shaky global markets boosted demand for the traditional safe-haven currency.

Those gains prompted Japanese officials to warn on Monday that the yen moves were “one-sided and speculative” and that the government stood ready to intervene to weaken the currency.

But with oil prices hitting a 2016 high above $43 per barrel on Tuesday and risk appetite on the rise, the yen needed no such intervention to drive it lower. [O/R]

“(Higher) oil prices … have got the dollar on the back foot, more than anything else, so we have the yen and the dollar at the bottom, and everything else at the top,” said Kit Juckes, macro strategist at Societe Generale in London.

“I think dollar/yen will get back to 120 at some point – we might want to sell it again there, but I think this move is way overdone,” he added.

As the dollar sold off, the euro touched a six-month high of $1.1465 <EUR=>.

(Additional reporting by Ian Chua in Sydney and Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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