The dollar tumbled against major rivals on Wednesday, with the euro reaching a three-year high, as US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that a weaker dollar was good for the US economy.
“Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us is good as it relates to trade and opportunities, but longer-term I think the strength of the dollar is a reflection of the strength of the US economy…” Mnuchin said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
His comments were widely interpreted as a green light from Washington to let the value of the dollar crumble to support US exports that become cheaper.
In Wednesday trading, the euro reached $1.2383 — the highest level since December 2014.
“The greenback has today extended its losses after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the World Economic Forum in Davos said, what we all know, that a weaker dollar is ‘good’ for US trade,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at Forex.com.
“The US dollar has fallen back across the board… following a press briefing from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in which he welcomed the depreciation,” said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB trading group.
The dollar had already been weakened by US President Donald Trump’s announcement earlier this week of steep tariffs on imports of solar panels and large washing machines, angering China and South Korea.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, also in Davos, defended the tariffs and said Washington would not flinch from reprisals against countries that flout the rules.
The dollar sold off also as investors bet on tighter monetary policies by major central banks, bringing them in line with the Federal Reserve.
The greenback fell below 110 yen for the first time since September, and the pound shot up to hit $1.42.
The European single currency also profited from accelerating business activity in the eurozone, while sterling won a boost from rising expectations of more UK interest-rate rises this year after British unemployment data was well-received by markets.
In commodities trading, gold hit a four-month high at $1,349.40 an ounce as the US currency weakened, while oil futures stabilised.
Europe’s main stock markets fell as rising local currencies weighed on multinationals earning in dollars.
Wall Street opened higher as a weak dollar favour US exports and boost foreign earnings.
Earlier, Asian share indices shrugged off profit-taking to press on with a new year rally that has sent Hong Kong to successive record highs.
However, Tokyo was unable to join in, with exporters hit by a strengthening yen.
Optimism about the global economy which was reinforced this week by the International Monetary Fund, strong earnings reports and Trump’s tax cuts have helped fuel a surge in global equities which many expect to continue.
– Key figures around 1430 GMT –
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2381 from $1.2300 at 2130 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.4199 from $1.4001
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.42 yen from 110.32 yen
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,690.51 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 at 13,543.04
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 5,522.86
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,665.12
New York – DOW: UP 0.3 at 26,293.37
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.8 percent at 23,940.78 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 32,958.69 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,559.47 (close)
Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 13 cents at $69.83 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 21 cents at $64.68