By Kevin Buckland
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar headed for its worst back-to-back weekly drop this year amid an extended retreat in Treasury yields as investors increasingly bought into the Federal Reserve’s insistence of keeping an accommodative policy stance for a while longer.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield dipped to a one-month low of 1.528% overnight, moving further away from over a one-year of 1.776% reached at the end of last month, even in the face of Thursday’s stronger-than-expected retail sales and employment data.
San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said on the same day that the U.S. economy is still far from making “substantial progress” toward the central bank’s goals of 2% inflation and full employment, the bar the Fed has set for beginning to consider reducing its support for the economy.
That echoed Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s comments in several speeches over the past week that policymakers will look through near-term rises in prices amid ongoing slack in the labour market.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six major peers, dipped to an almost-one-month low of 91.487 overnight before recovering somewhat to 91.752 in the Asian session.
It’s set for a 0.5% decline for the week, extending the 0.9% slide from the previous week.
The gauge, also known as the DXY, surged with Treasury yields to an almost-five-month high at 93.439 on the final day of March, on bets that massive fiscal spending coupled with continued monetary easing will spur faster U.S. economic growth and higher inflation, particularly compared to places like Europe.
But bond and foreign-exchange markets now seem willing to give the Fed the benefit of the doubt that inflation pressure will be transitory and monetary stimulus will remain in place for years to come.
The dollar is “still struggling to find its feet in April, even though the U.S. macro outperformance narrative could not be more propitious,” Westpac strategists wrote in a research note.
“The DXY is trading like its topping out now, sooner than (we) expected,” and a break below 91.3 would confirm the downtrend, they said.
Retail sales increased 9.8% last month, beating economists’ expectations for a 5.9% rise, while first-time claims for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to the lowest level in more than a year, separate reports showed Thursday.
The dollar traded at 108.825 yen, heading for a 0.8% loss for the week, following a 0.9% decline the previous week.
The euro changed hands at $1.19585, set for a 0.5% weekly advance, adding to the previous period’s 1.3% surge.
Some analysts also pointed to Wall Street’s strong gains, with the S&P 500 and Dow both posting record highs, as weighing on the traditionally safe-haven dollar amid increased risk appetite.
“Lower U.S. bond yields and positive risk sentiment have once again been a cocktail fuelling a softer USD,” Ray Attrill, the head of foreign-exchange strategy at National Australia Bank (OTC:NABZY), said in a note to clients.
The rally in equities has “driven a wedge between the strong data and the USD,” he said.
Highly anticipated economic data from China on Friday ultimately had little effect on currencies, even as the world’s second largest economy posted record 18.3% growth in the first quarter year-on-year.
The Chinese yuan slipped 0.1% to 6.5326 per dollar in the offshore market.
In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin stood around $62,850, near the record high of $64,895 reached on Wednesday, when cryptocurrency platform Coinbase COIN.O made its debut in Nasdaq in a direct listing.