Falling commodities support dollar

April 4, 2016 09:42 AM

The struggling dollar edged up from a 5-1/2-month low on Monday, helped by a fall in oil and copper prices that weakened commodity-related currencies and gave the U.S. currency a foothold after its worst week in two months.

The biggest loser among developed-world currencies was the New Zealand dollar, closely linked to commodity prices and which fell 0.9% against its U.S. counterpart. The Aussie dollar was down 0.7%.

Gains against those commodity currencies helped the dollar index, which measures it against a basket of six major currencies, to inch up 0.2% to 94.706, close to last week's low of 94.319.

The euro eased 0.2% to $1.1364, leaving it less than a cent away from a 5-1/2-month high of $1.1438 struck on Friday. It showed little reaction to data showing euro zone producer prices fell more than expected in February.

"I think the main driver this morning is commodity prices, which are giving the dollar a slight boost. Oil is under pressure, and copper too," said Societe Generale currency strategist Alvin Tan in London.

Friday's strong U.S. labor market report, which showed 215,000 jobs were added last month, failed to change the market view that the Federal Reserve will only raise interest rates once this year, if at all.

The dollar climbed the week before last after several Fed officials indicated investors could expect at least two hikes this year. But Fed Chair Janet Yellen last week urged caution on rate rises, driving an almost 2% fall in the currency and suggesting a split in the Fed's rate-setting committee, the FOMC.

Minutes from the FOMC's March meeting are due on Wednesday.

"If the (minutes) offer any more dovish clues then the market will take that as reasonably important," said BMO Capital Markets currency strategist Stephen Gallo.

"But I'm not sure the market is inclined to take anyone else's words as gospel but Yellen's at the moment, and it's pretty evident there's been a shift in thinking toward the top of the food chain."

Speculators slashed their bullish bets on the dollar for a fourth consecutive time in the week up to last Tuesday, data showed on Friday, with net long positions falling to their lowest in nearly two years.

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