US Yields Boost Dollar, Weaken Yen

US Yields Boost Dollar, Weaken Yen

The dollar strengthened on Tuesday, driven by rising U.S. yields, putting pressure on low-yielding currencies like China’s yuan and Japan’s yen, which fell to its lowest level since 1986.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields increased nearly 14 basis points to 4.479% overnight. Analysts attributed this rise to expectations of Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidency, which could lead to higher tariffs and increased government borrowing.

As the dollar gained, the euro reversed part of a small rally following the first round of France’s election, which aligned with polling predictions. The euro last traded at $1.0735.

The yen dropped to 161.72 per dollar on Monday, its weakest in nearly 38 years, primarily due to the significant interest rate gap between the U.S. and Japan. On Tuesday, the yen traded at 161.55 per dollar in Asia and was under pressure from yen bears wary of potential intervention by Japanese authorities. The yen also hit a lifetime low of 173.67 against the euro on Monday and remained near that level on Tuesday.

In the bond market, the 10-year yield gap between U.S. and Japanese rates stood at 340 basis points, and nearly 440 basis points at the two-year tenor. China’s yuan, which reached a seven-month low against the dollar last week, faced similar pressure, with U.S. 10-year yields more than 220 basis points higher than Chinese government bond yields.

Robust manufacturing data in China and an announcement from the central bank about borrowing bonds, likely to sell them and stabilize falling yields, provided only a brief boost to the currency on Monday. The yuan last traded at 7.3043 in offshore markets on Tuesday, close to its June low.

The New Zealand dollar slipped 0.3% in early trade and was testing support at its 200-day moving average at $0.6075. The British pound remained steady at $1.2641. The Australian dollar hovered within its recent range at $0.6650, with traders focused on central bank minutes to gauge the likelihood of future interest rate hikes. Swaps market pricing suggests a one-in-three chance of a rate hike as soon as next month.

The question remains about the trigger for such a move. ING economist Rob Carnell noted that discussions have taken place, but the specific trigger for a hike is still uncertain. There is a leaning towards forecasting a hike at the August meeting.

Overall, the strengthening dollar and rising U.S. yields continue to exert pressure on low-yielding currencies, with markets closely watching upcoming central bank decisions and geopolitical developments.