Dollar hits nine-month high as U.S. yields climb, seen at cusp of bull phase

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By Shinichi Saoshiro | TOKYO

The dollar rose to a nine-month high against a basket of major currencies on Monday, riding climbing U.S. yields and seen to be at the cusp of a renewed bull phase following Donald Trump’s U.S. election win.

The dollar index was up 0.4 percent at 99.471 after touching 99.680, its highest since Jan. 29.

The greenback has soared on expectations that Trump’s administration would boost spending and lift inflation, which spurred an elevation of Treasury yields.

The 10-year Treasury note yield rose to a 10-month high of 2.2 percent in Asia.

“What was expected to be a gradual dollar rise is going much faster than expected after Trump’s win,” said Koji Fukaya, president of FPG Securities in Tokyo. “With the possibility of reflationary policies being enacted, the market is bracing for a new bull phase under a different set of rules.”

“While the dollar rise before the U.S. election was driven to a large degree by speculators unwinding their positions, this phase is more conducive for participants to go long on the dollar anew,” he said.

Trump’s victory has lifted the cloud of risk aversion in equity markets such as the United States and Japan, giving the dollar a big leg-up against the safe-haven yen. The Dow closed at a record high on Friday, while the Nikkei was up 1.5 percent on Monday.

The dollar was up 0.8 percent at 107.500 yen, having risen to 107.595, its highest since June 7. It had slumped to 101.190 on Wednesday in an initial reaction to Trump’s win.

“It is probably a good idea to keep riding the dollar higher while the Trump camp has not yet revealed any specific policy steps,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

“The euro could be more easily exposed to negative pressure amid concerns that the win by Trump, with his anti-globalism agenda, could affect referendums and elections in Italy, Holland and France next year.”

The euro was down 0.6 percent at $1.0793 after touching $1.0773, its lowest since early January.

Against the Swiss franc the dollar gained 0.4 percent to 0.9914 franc.

The Australian dollar was little changed at $0.7548 after seeing a one-month low of $0.7524. The New Zealand dollar was down 0.5 percent at $0.7092 as the market waited to see the economic impact of earthquakes that struck the country.

The Aussie had dropped about 1.6 percent and the kiwi shed more than 3 percent last week against a broadly stronger dollar.

Currencies associated with the Trans Pacific Partnership, (TPP) such as the Aussie and kiwi, came under additional pressure after news on Friday that Trump’s election had effectively rendered the trade deal a non-starter for the U.S. Congress.

Trump had made opposition to the TPP a centerpiece of his election campaign.

The pound, which stood its ground against the dollar last week, took a step back. Sterling was down 0.3 percent at $1.2566.

It hit a five-week high of $1.2673 last week as market focus turned away from Brexit towards potential political risks in Europe, amid expectations that Trump’s win could strengthen Britain’s ties with the United States.

Emerging currencies including the South Korean won, Indonesian rupiah and Singapore dollar remained on the defensive, weighed down by the specter of investor moneybeing siphoned away by higher U.S. rates.

The Mexican peso, however, pulled back from a record low of 21.39 pesos per dollar touched Friday to 20.76 as Trump appeared to soften one of his controversial campaign pledges.

The U.S. president-elect watered down his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, saying some areas could instead be “fencing”.

(Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Eric Meijer and Richard Borsuk)

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