The US dollar extended this week’s advance after a report showed the US economy grew at a faster pace than previously estimated, bolstering the case for raising interest rates. Gold held near a one-month low while a retreat in the yen boosted Japanese shares.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index capped its biggest weekly gain since November last year after the US Department of Commerce figures showed the US economy expanded 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
The data follow warnings from US Federal Reserve officials this week that the next US rate increase might come as soon as next month.
South Korea’s won led declines among major currencies on Friday as the yen hit a one-week low.
Financial markets across Europe, the Americas and Asia were shut on Friday for holidays.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 1.3 percent to 1,201.29 this week, its first gain since the five days ended Feb. 26. The greenback, which climbed against most of its 16 major peers, added 0.9 percent to US$1.1167 per euro. It was up 1.4 percent to ￥113.08 after falling last week to the lowest since October 2014.
“The revised data so far only increase the probability of a rate hike in the middle of the year,” said Alexander Losev, chief executive officer at Sputnik Asset Management in Moscow. “The rhetoric at the April meeting may turn more hawkish, further fueling speculation.”
The US dollar rose against the New Taiwan dollar on Friday, gaining NT$0.04 to close at the day’s high of NT$32.766, from NT$32.706 on Friday last week, in sluggish trading a day after Taiwan’s central bank cut interest rates, dealers said.
The central bank intervened later in Friday’s session to prop up the US dollar, sending the greenback into positive territory by the close at a time when Taiwanese exporters are eager to see a weaker NT dollar boost their outbound sales, dealers said.
The greenback opened lower at NT$32.623 to the NT dollar and moved to a low of NT$32.576 before rebounding. Turnover totaled US$720 million during the trading session.
The yen fell for a sixth day, weakening as much as 0.4 percent versus the US dollar. Japan’s public pension funds boosted holdings of foreign assets to a record in the three months through December last year, central bank data showed on Friday.
South Korea’s won declined 0.2 percent. Thailand’s baht erased an earlier loss after trade data showed an unexpected increase in the nation’s exports.
The yuan lost 0.9 percent in offshore trading this week, its steepest slide since January, as the Wall Street Journal reported that the IMF was pressuring China’s central bank for more transparency on its use of currency derivatives.
The report prompted speculation that policymarkers would rein in intervention that supports the exchange rate, Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (華僑銀行) economist Tommy Xie said.
The British pound is set to extend its decline, the biggest among rich-world currencies, beyond the day of the referendum that could lead to a “Brexit.”
The pound has already dropped at least 2 percent versus all of its G10 counterparts this year and options prices suggest it would fall further against every one over the next three months. That would see the UK currency’s losses extend beyond June 23, when the public is to vote on the nation’s membership of the EU.
“We’re in a situation where it’s the ‘Brexit’ risk that will dominate markets,” said Ned Rumpeltin, European head of currency strategy at Toronto Dominion Bank in London.
Though economic data are showing an improvement, “what captures all the headlines is the risk of the referendum,” he said.
“Longer-term, the pound is going to struggle,” he said.
Concern that the UK would leave the world’s biggest single market has weighed on the pound this year, sending it down 4 percent to about US$1.41 as of Thursday. The nation’s stock and bond markets are closed for the Easter holiday from Friday to tomorrow.
Additional reporting by staff writer, with CNA
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