May 20, 2022: The U.S. dollar was headed for its worst week since early February against major peers on Friday, weighed down by a retreat in Treasury yields and fatigue after the currency's breathless 10%, 14-week surge.
The dollar index, which measures it against six major rivals, tried to claw back some ground into the weekend, edging up 0.05% to 102.96, but remained 1.42% lower for the week, on track to snap a six-week winning run. Last Friday, it had soared to the highest since January 2003 at 105.01.
Even with global stocks sliding this week amid risks to growth from aggressive monetary tightening – led by the Federal Reserve – and China's strict lockdowns to quash a COVID-19 outbreak, the dollar's appeal as a haven was eclipsed overnight by a decline in U.S. yields as investors rushed for the safety of Treasury bonds.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield sank to a more than three-week low of 2.772% on Thursday, from a 3 1/2-year high of over 3.2% earlier this month.
“The dollar was ripe for a pullback,” Edward Moya, senior analyst with OANDA, wrote in a note to clients. “Across the board weakness might continue a while longer.”
Other safe-haven currencies continued to rally overnight, as a key index of global equities headed for a seventh weekly decline, its longest ever.
Asian stocks recovered some ground on Friday though, buoyed by China's cut to a key lending benchmark to cushion its economic slowdown. [MKTS/GLOB]
The yen ticked up slightly on Friday, headed for a second-straight weekly advance, with the dollar dropping 0.84% to 128.13 yen over the period.
The Swiss franc headed for its best week since March 2020, with the dollar falling 3.1% since last Friday to 0.97070 franc.
Concerns are growing that the Fed and other central banks have fallen behind the curve in combating super-hot inflation and will need to be ever more aggressive in tightening policy, inflicting pain on the economy as a consequence.
The war in Ukraine shows no sign of abating either, darkening the outlook for commodity price-driven inflation.
China's path out of coronavirus lockdowns also remains unclear, threatening more global price pressures, even as Shanghai prepares to allow more businesses in zero-COVID areas to resume normal operations from the beginning of June and its ports now operating at 90% capacity.
Antipodean currencies have drawn support from signs of a reopening in their major trading partner, with the Aussie rallying 1.24% this week and the kiwi adding 1.51%.
Australia's currency slipped on Friday though, down 0.35% to $0.7023, after it surged 1.33% the previous session.
“Aussie benefited disproportionately yesterday from the China news, so I think there's just a bit of an unwind of that, maybe some positioning going on,” said Joseph Capurso, a strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
New Zealand's kiwi though held all of the previous day's 1.41% jump, ticking up a bit more to $0.6385. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand sets policy next Wednesday, with expectations for another half-point increase to the key rate.
The euro edged 0.1% lower on Friday to $1.05725 but was still on course for a 1.56% weekly gain.
Sterling slipped 0.11% to $1.2457 but was up 1.49% for the week, its best showing since late 2020.
Westpac analysts warned not to count the dollar out, even if its rally was “losing some of its vitality”.
“It's still far too early to call a long-term peak, amid unsettled global market conditions and a resolute Fed,” the Australian bank's analysts wrote in a research note, recommending buying on dips to the 102s and targeting 105 multi-week.