Dollar rises again despite Trump trying to 'jawbone' the US currency lower

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The U.S. dollar rose against a basket of various currencies on Monday as investors looked past comments made by President Donald Trump over the weekend regarding the greenback.

The U.S. Dollar Currency Index, which tracks the U.S. currency’s performance against others like the euro, was up 0.2 percent at 96.74. Against the euro, the dollar gained half a percent and traded at $1.132.

The moves came after Trump said on Saturday he was not pleased with how strong the dollar had become relative to other world currencies. “I want a dollar that’s great for our country but not a dollar that’s prohibitive for us to be doing business with other countries,” he said.

Trump has sparked significant moves in the dollar previously, but experts say there is little he can do now to talk the currency down.

“I think currency investors are looking past those remarks,” said Aaron Hurd, senior portfolio manager of currency at State Street Global Advisors. The reason is “it’s unlikely Trump is going to be able to change the [Federal Reserve] outlook. When the Fed was hiking every quarter and projecting another hike, Trump would say something that would raise some concern that maybe he could change the Fed’s trajectory and have them slow down.”

“Now that the Fed is really in a patient, wait-and-see mode, there’s really not that much behavior to change. That’s already happened. The Fed has gone from hiking to doing nothing, so Trump’s comments don’t really matter unless Trump would be able to convince them to cut, but that’s a much more heroic assumption to make,” Hurd said.

The Federal Reserve signaled earlier this year it will be “patient” in raising rates this year after hiking four times in 2018.Trump criticized the Fed’s decisions throughout 2018. In October, he said the central bank had “gone crazy” by continuing to raise rates.

Over the past 12 months, the dollar has risen more than 7 percent and is up about 1 percent over the past month. Last year, the greenback gained more than 4 percent.

Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank, said investors are lagely ignoring Trump’s attempt to “jawbone” the dollar as the odds of him changing the course of Fed policy are slim. He also said the key catalyst for the U.S. currency has been interest-rate differentials as short-term U.S. debt yields are higher than those overseas.

“It’s still a case of interest rates here in the U.S. are higher than anywhere in the developed world,” Gaffney said. “Therefore, when you look at the dollar versus the euro versus the yen, investors are paid more to hold dollars than to hold euros or yen right now.”

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