NEW YORK :The dollar hit a fresh two-month high against a basket of peers on Wednesday, bolstered by recent signs of a resilient U.S. economy, while unease over U.S. debt ceiling talks kept investors moving to safe havens.
The dollar is not seen posing an immediate risk, unlike certain Treasury securities, even though the debt ceiling impasse in Washington could lead to a default and push the U.S. economy into recession, analysts said.
Market expectations that the Federal Reserve would soon start to cut interest rates have ebbed as U.S. economic data has shown resiliency and given the dollar an edge, said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Convera in Washington.
"There has been the view that the dollar could lose its yield advantage if the Fed cuts rates as much as the market had recently expected, and if Europe continues to raise rates," he said.
"Now there's been somewhat of an about-face with respect to the outlook on global interest rates."
Market bets that the Fed will raise rates at its next meeting in June rose slightly after minutes from its policy-setting meeting in early May were released.
Fed officials "generally agreed" last month that the need for further rate increases "had become less certain," but others cautioned the U.S. central bank needed to keep its options open given the risks of persistent inflation.
Federal funds futures show a 35.3 per cent probability that the Fed raises rates when a two-day policy meeting ends on June 14, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.
The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against six major peers, earlier hit 103.91, its highest since March 20. The index last rose 0.319 per cent at 103.86.
Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex in New York, said he doubts the debt ceiling negotiations have been a big factor in the foreign exchange market.
"The U.S. dollar has been rallying more or less for three weeks helped by stronger-than-expected data and rising U.S. interest rates," he said.
Economic data could continue to support the dollar, as the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank projects the U.S. economy is growing at a 2.9 per cent clip in the second quarter, Chandler said.
The pound dropped to a five-week low against the dollar of $1.2358 and was last down 0.42 per cent, after data showed British inflation slowed by much less than markets had been expecting.
The British currency lost ground against the euro too, which was last down 0.26 per cent at 1.1495.
Core eurozone services inflation reported on Tuesday remained elevated, hurting Sweden's crown, as the European Central Bank is poised to raise interest rates in June and July.
The Swedish currency hit 11.544 crowns per euro, its weakest against the common currency since March 2009.
New Zealand's dollar slipped after the central bank signaled it was done tightening after raising rates by 25 basis points to the highest in more than 14 years.
The dollar strengthened 0.99 per cent against the crown, while the New Zealand dollar slid 2.3 per cent against the U.S. currency to 0.61040.
Higher inflation, leading to higher-for-longer Bank of England rates, had supported the pound in recent months but that relationship is now starting to reverse.
Currency bid prices at 3:51 p.m. (1951 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Dollar index 103.8600 103.5400 +0.33 per cent 0.358 per cent +103.9100 +103.3400
Euro/Dollar $1.0752 $1.0771 -0.17 per cent +0.35 per cent +$1.0801 +$1.0748
Dollar/Yen 139.2650 138.5950 +0.50 per cent +6.24 per cent +139.3800 +138.2350
Euro/Yen 149.73 149.25 +0.32 per cent +6.72 per cent +149.9200 +148.8500
Dollar/Swiss 0.9049 0.9016 +0.36 per cent -2.14 per cent +0.9066 +0.9005
Sterling/Dollar $1.2361 $1.2416 -0.42 per cent +2.23 per cent +$1.2469 +$1.2358
Dollar/Canadian 1.3598 1.3503 +0.70 per cent +0.36 per cent +1.3605 +1.3497
Aussie/Dollar $0.6538 $0.6611 -1.10 per cent -4.09 per cent +$0.6615 +$0.6530
Euro/Swiss 0.9727 0.9706 +0.22 per cent -1.70 per cent +0.9751 +0.9705
Euro/Sterling 0.8696 0.8676 +0.23 per cent -1.67 per cent +0.8710 +0.8650
NZ $0.6100 $0.6248 -2.30 per cent -3.87 per cent +$0.6256 +$0.6094
Dollar/Norway 10.9640 10.9450 +0.21 per cent +11.76 per cent +11.0010 +10.9370
Euro/Norway 11.7866 11.7949 -0.07 per cent +12.32 per cent +11.8480 +11.7743
Dollar/Sweden 10.7192 10.6145 +0.76 per cent +2.99 per cent +10.7309 +10.6023
Euro/Sweden 11.5266 11.4392 +0.76 per cent +3.38 per cent +11.5444 +11.4354