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Dollar edges higher on economic optimism


4 February 2021

The dollar edged toward its strongest in more than two months against the euro and the yen on Thursday as pessimism about the U.S. economic outlook receded before the release of important data on the jobs market. The British pound fell against the dollar but traded near an eight-month high versus the euro ahead of a Bank of England policy meeting that will publish findings on the feasibility of negative interest rates. Sentiment for the dollar has improved recently as progress in coronavirus vaccinations, moves by U.S. President Joe Biden to pass more fiscal stimulus, and improving economic data forced some bearish investors to give up their short positions.

The dollar faces another test on Friday with the release of non-farm payrolls data, which will help confirm whether the world’s largest economy has shrugged off a dip in growth toward the end of last year. Against the euro, the dollar stood at $1.2015, close to a nine-week high. The pound fell to $1.3601, adding to a 0.2% decline in the previous session. Sterling traded at 88.30 pence per euro, near the strongest since May last year. The dollar was quoted at 105.13 yen, near its highest since mid-November.

Data due on Friday is forecast to show the U.S. economy added 50,000 jobs in January, which would be a mild recovery from shedding 140,000 jobs in the previous month as a spike in coronavirus infections curbed economic activity. Since the start of the year expectations for big fiscal stimulus under Biden’s Democratic government have supported sentiment. The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies rose 0.2% to 91.269, not far from the highest since early December.

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