Dollar drops as Fed stimulus seen staying after jobs data
New York (Oct 23) The dollar slid across the board on Tuesday, hitting its lowest level against the euro in nearly two years, as disappointing U.S. jobs data emboldened expectations that the Federal Reserve will leave its stimulus unchanged for the remainder of the year. The greenback hit an eight-month trough against a basket of currencies after data showed U.S. employers added far fewer workers than expected in September, suggesting a loss of momentum in the economy.
The data will likely add to the Fed's caution in deciding
when to trim its monthly bond purchases. The Fed's bond buying
is negative for the dollar as it is tantamount to printing
The dollar also swooned against the safe-haven Swiss franc
and higher-yielding Australian dollar, dropping to a 20-month
trough and a 4-1/2-month low, respectively.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased by 148,000 workers last
month, the Labor Department said. While the job count for August
was raised, employment gains in July were revised lower and were
the weakest since June 2012.
Economists were expecting U.S. job gains of 180,000 in
September, which preceded the 16-day government partial shutdown
in October. With the shutdown expected to have damaged the U.S.
economy, the conviction that the Fed will not reduce its asset
buying any time soon became even more entrenched.
"Is the Fed getting tired of being right? Today's
underperforming jobs number fully justifies September's cautious
FOMC," said Joseph Trevisani, chief market strategist at
WorldWideMarkets in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
"Full-bore quantitative easing will probably be with us
through the first quarter and speculation for an increase may be
no further than another weak payroll."
In afternoon trading, the euro hit a high of $1.3792
against the dollar, its strongest level since mid-November 2011.
It was last at $1.3788, up 0.8 percent on the day.
The dollar index, a gauge of the dollar's value
against six major currencies that is dominated by the euro, fell
to its weakest in eight months at 79.182. The index last traded
at 79.196, down 0.6 percent.
The unemployment rate did dip to 7.2 percent last month, the
lowest since November 2008, but the expected toll of the
government shutdown on the economy eclipsed any signs of
Economists estimated that the government shutdown shaved as
much as 0.6 percentage point off annualized fourth-quarter gross
domestic product growth through reduced government output and
damage to both consumer and business confidence.
The labor participation rate in September held fast at a
35-year low, unchanged at 63.2 percent.
"A 35-year low in the participation rate indicates that the
recent improvement in the unemployment rate has been influenced
in no small way by discouraged workers leaving the labor force,"
said Michael Woolfolk, global market strategist at BNY Mellon in
New York. "This report clearly reduces the likelihood of
Against the yen, the dollar fell as low as 97.86 yen.
It last traded at 98.04 yen, down 0.2 percent on the day.
Following the September jobs report, futures prices
suggested that the Fed will raise interest rates no earlier than
April 2015, giving a 54 percent probability of an increase that
month, according to CME Group's Fed Watch. Fed Watch generates
probabilities based on the price of Fed funds futures traded at
CME Group Inc's Chicago Board of Trade.
Before the report, traders were giving a 59 percent
probability for an April 2015 rate rise.
Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said on Monday it would
be "tough" for the U.S. central bank to have enough confidence
in the economy by its December meeting to start scaling back
Indeed, the fiscal deal clinched last week by U.S. lawmakers
only restored government funding until Jan. 15.