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Investors bet weak dollar will keep risk rally going in 2021


23 December 2020

Investors are counting on a weakening dollar to boost rallies in everything from U.S. stocks to emerging markets and industrial metals in 2021. Record-low U.S. interest rates, massive financial stimulus and a growing appetite for risk are among the catalysts that contributed to the dollar’s 6% drop against a basket of its peers year-to-date, putting it on track for its weakest year since 2017. Over two-thirds of analysts in a recent Reuters poll said the dollar would keep falling until at least mid-2021, as investors continue shifting into comparatively riskier assets and seeking higher yields.

“The table is set for continued dollar weakness,” said Michael Purves, chief executive officer at Tallbacken Capital Advisors, in a note to clients. A weaker greenback is a boon to U.S. exporters as it makes their products more competitive abroad. It also makes it more profitable for U.S. multinationals to convert foreign earnings back into dollars.

BofA Global Research estimates that every 10% drop in the U.S. dollar translates to a roughly 3% boost to S&P earnings. At the same time, the S&P 500 has tended to rise an average of just over 22% following years when the broad trade-weighted dollar – which measures the U.S. currency against those of the country’s major trading partners – declined between zero and 3%, according to research from Bespoke Investment Group.

With that measure down just over 1.3% this year, “things look very, very good for equity investors in 2021,” Bespoke’s analysts wrote earlier this month. That said, a steady decline in the dollar may be preferable to a bumpy ride lower.

The negative impact of currency fluctuations on North American companies hit a four-quarter high of $14.16 billion in the second quarter of 2020, according to treasury and financial management firm Kyriba. Declines in the dollar tend also to buoy prices for raw materials, which are priced in the U.S. currency and become more affordable to foreign investors when the greenback declines.

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