The dollar rose to a seven-week high after Federal Reserve meeting minutes boosted speculation that the central bank will raise interest rates as soon as June.
The U.S. currency extended gains against most of its major peers after the release of policy makers’ deliberations indicated they are moving closer to further tightening after raising rates for the first time in a decade last December. Emerging-market currencies slumped on the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates, with the Brazilian real, South Africa’s rand and the Russian ruble pacing declines.
“The greenback should be bid here,” said Bipan Rai, executive director of foreign-exchange strategy at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Toronto. “The minutes suggest that the odds of a June hike or even a signal in June for a July hike are more likely than the market was prepared for.”
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the greenback versus 10 peers, climbed 0.8 percent as of 5 p.m. in New York, reaching the highest level on a closing basis since March 28. The U.S. currency added 0.9 percent to $1.1216 per euro and advanced 1 percent to 110.19 yen.
“This is really going to give the market some renewed confidence in the dollar,” said Lennon Sweeting, a corporate dealer in Toronto at the foreign-exchange transfer company USForex Inc. “We saw a couple of nice comments from the Fed, they recognize the fact that the market’s been wanting to hear a clear, concise message.”
Hedge funds reduced bets for the U.S. currency to weaken versus eight other currencies last week, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. After surging more than 20 percent against the euro in the past two years, strategists project the dollar staying near its current level of $1.12 per euro through year-end.
Fed officials “have been building the case for a potential June hike over the past few weeks, with more hawkish undertones in their speeches,” said Minh Trang, a senior foreign-exchange trader at Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, California. “They may not want to make the mistake of waiting too long, only to see the environment weaken and lose an opportunity to hike.”