Dollar slumps to two-month low, investors see more declines

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar sank to its lowest level in over two months against a basket of peer currencies on Friday, as vote counting for the contentious U.S. elections slowly moved toward a divided government and investors predicted more losses for the currency.

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. dollar note is seen in front of a stock graph in this November 7, 2016 picture illustration. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Investors are betting that Democrat Joe Biden will become the next president but Republicans will retain control of the Senate, which will make it difficult for the Democrats to pass the larger coronavirus relief package they have been pushing.

The need for more stimulus was underlined on Friday when the U.S. government reported that employers hired the fewest workers in five months in October. It was the clearest evidence yet that the end of previous fiscal stimulus and exploding new coronavirus infections were sapping momentum from the economic recovery.

“We’re still left with the view that the U.S. economy is decelerating, and that’s playing out in a markedly weaker dollar,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.

Biden maintains an edge over Republican President Donald Trump, but a few important states are still counting votes and Trump is mounting legal challenges to ballot counts, so there is still a high degree of uncertainty.

The surge of new coronavirus cases to record levels in several U.S. states could also curb economic activity.

The dollar index fell against a basket of six major currencies to 92.461, hitting its lowest level since Sept. 2.

Graphic: Dollar falls to 2-month low –

For the week, the dollar index was down as much as 1.7%, on course for its biggest drop in almost four months.

A large decline in long-term Treasury yields due to expectations for less fiscal stimulus, combined with a rally in equities and other riskier assets, has placed the dollar under consistent selling pressure that is likely to continue.

“So far investors have been prepared to overlook the threat of a contested election, presumably seeing Donald Trump’s legal initiatives as ‘frivolous’ and these benign conditions have generated a broad-based dollar decline,” said strategists at ING.

The dollar fell further against the Japanese yen, trading at 103.58 yen on Friday, close to an eight-month low.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has vowed to work closely with overseas authorities to keep currency moves stable, because a strong yen is widely viewed as a threat to Japan’s economy.

The recent currency moves have been big enough to set up a brief reversal. “We could see some end-of-week profit-taking catch up with the euro and the yen,” Western Union Business Solutions’ Manimbo said. “But it looks like there’s the potential for dollar sentiment to continue to erode in the weeks ahead.”

The onshore yuan fell to 6.618 per dollar but still remained close to its more than two-year high reached on Thursday.

Many investors expect a Biden administration would slightly scale back Trump’s trade war with China, which should benefit the yuan.

Against a buoyant euro, the dollar traded at $1.1858 after falling 0.87% in the previous session.

The single currency has risen sharply this week on the dollar’s weakness, but has also benefited from news of the European Union inching closer to a budget deal.

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