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FOREX-Dollar hits 3-1/2 month high on firmer U.S. yields

John McCrank and Saikat Chatterjee
·2-min read

* Graphic: World FX rates (Updates currency moves, adds analyst quote, changes dateline to New York)

By John McCrank and Saikat Chatterjee

NEW YORK, March 8 Reuters) - The U.S. dollar hit a 3-1/2 month high on Monday as elevated U.S. Treasury yields spooked investors and boosted the greenback's safe-haven appeal.

After falling 4% in the last quarter of 2020, the dollar has strengthened by nearly 2.5% year-to-date as investors expect the broad rise in U.S. bond yields to weigh on stretched equity valuations and boost demand for the U.S. currency.

"If we continue to see yields rise, that's going to be very dollar positive and there’s nothing really getting in the way," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.

Recent economic figures were supportive with non-farm payrolls surging by 379,000 jobs last month while the U.S. Senate approved President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion recovery package.

"The U.S. labor market is healing quickly, President Biden's gargantuan relief package has been approved by the Senate, and America has stepped up its immunization game, administering a record number of vaccines this weekend," said Marios Hadjikyriacos, an investment analyst at XM.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Monday rejected calls for a weakening of the dollar, saying a strong dollar was "good for America."

But while U.S. yields climbed within striking distance of a one-year high above 1.62% hit on Friday, German yields dipped nearly 5 basis points last week, pulling the euro to a near four-month low below $1.19.

BofA analyst Athanasios Vamvakidis said the potent mix of U.S. stimulus, faster reopening and greater consumer firepower was a clear positive for the dollar.

The dollar index stood at 92.21 against a basket of six major currencies, up 0.35%, easing off of an intraday high of 92.34, its highest level since Nov. 24.

The Australian dollar weakened 0.08% to $0.7674. The New Zealand dollar was down about 0.29%.

The currencies have been in demand because of their links to global commodities trading, but the dollar's bounce dented both.

The dollar held near a one-month high against the British pound, at $1.3819. Against the low-yielding yen JPY=EBS, the greenback held firmer at 108.56 yen, having hit a nine-month high of 108.645 on Friday.

(Reporting by John McCrank in New York and Saikat Chatterjee in London; Editing by Alexander Smith and Nick Zieminski)