Dollar hits 2018 peak, supported by yields, retail sales data

May 15, 2018

New York (May 15)  The U.S. dollar rallied against a basket of major currencies on Tuesday to its highest since December, helped by a rise in U.S. Treasury yields and as data showed U.S. retail sales increased moderately in April.

The dollar index .DXY, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was up 0.8 percent at 93.332, after rising as high as 93.457. Against the yen, the dollar was up 0.57 percent at 110.27 yen, its strongest since early February.

"The resurgent tone for the U.S. dollar is largely due to, number one, the move higher in Treasury bond yields across the curve and number two, the relatively solid data we saw on retail sales," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange Inc in Washington D.C.

The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note surged on Tuesday morning to its highest since July 2011 following data showing retail sales increased moderately in April.

Softer-than-expected economic news from the euro zone and Britain also helped the dollar against the euro and sterling, Esiner said.

"All that plays into the narrative, which is largely behind the dollar's rally since mid April, that the U.S. economy is outpacing growth in most of the rest of the industrialized world and that the Fed will likely far outpace most of the major central banks in policy normalization," he said.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday U.S. retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.5 percent increase in March. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Consumption growth is on track for a big rebound in the second quarter, which should push overall GDP growth up to more than 3 percent, annualized, Michael Pearce, a senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics in New York, said in a note.

"That will keep the Fed on track to raise rates again at its June meeting," Pearce said.

The euro fell to a fresh 2018 low of 1.1821, after weaker-than-expected economic growth in Germany.

The Turkish lira TRYTOM=D3 fell to a fresh record low of against the dollar, bringing its losses this year to more than 13 percent after President Tayyip Erdogan said he plans to take greater control of the economy.

Argentina's peso ARS=RASL plunged to a new record low despite hefty central bank interventions in the past few days.

Sterling was down 0.6 percent against the greenback at $1.3473, despite robust hiring by British firms in the three months to March.


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