The euro moved above $1.39 Wednesday for the first time since February, while the yen struck a 15-year high. The dollar is sliding broadly because investors expect that the Federal Reserve will increase its support for the U.S. economy, driving down interest rates and dampening the currency’s appeal for investors.
A measure of the dollar against six actively traded currencies is at its lowest level since January after falling 7 percent in September and October.READ MORE: Benton Harbor Begins Accepting Bids To Replace Lead Pipes
The International Monetary Fund forecast Wednesday that the U.S. economy will grow just 2.6 percent this year, below its previous estimate of 3.3 percent, and that growth will slow to 2.3 percent in 2011.
A private jobs survey released Wednesday by payrolls company ADP said U.S. employers cut jobs in September, the first time in seven months. The government is releasing a key jobs report Friday. A disappointing report could influence whether and how soon the Fed decides to take more steps, said UBS analyst Amelia Bourdeau.
Fed members have said they are willing to offer the economy more relief. Buying U.S. government debt would lower interest rates, which the Fed hopes would trigger more economic activity, supporting jobs and inflation. But lower rates mean that assets bought in dollars offer investors lower returns, weighing on the dollar.
On Wednesday, yields on two-year and five-year Treasurys sank to record lows, and the yield on the 10-year note fell to its lowest level in 2010.
The euro jumped to an eight-month high of $1.3947 before settling at $1.3935 in late trading from $1.3850 late Tuesday. The dollar slid to a 15-year low of 82.77 Japanese yen before rebounding a bit to 82.93 yen, still down from 83.18 yen Tuesday.
The yen last hit a 15-year high on Sept. 15, just before the Bank of Japan intervened in foreign exchange markets to weaken the yen.READ MORE: Michigan Reports 25,329 New COVID-19 Cases, 137 Deaths
Traders are wary of a global “currency war,” in which countries try to weaken their currencies to boost exports. Japan did so this week with plans for a massive stimulus package and interest rate cut. Brazil also moved to weaken the real. European authorities are not expected to try to launch more support for the economy, however, and that has helped increase the value of the euro.
Investors are increasingly selling the dollar in expectation that the Fed will announce its own big plan to buy government debt after its Nov. 3 meeting, Bourdeau said.
Government officials in the U.S. and Europe are speaking out about foreign exchange interventions ahead of weekend meetings of the IMF and World Bank. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a Wednesday speech that countries with “undervalued” currencies should let them appreciate.
The problem was that when large economies — such as China, which Geithner did not name — kept their currencies undervalued, other countries took similar actions to weaken their currencies in order to compete in global trade. That increased risks of inflation and asset bubbles in emerging economies, which could disrupt the recovery in the world economy.
While governments in China and other Asian countries may want to weaken their currencies to support exports, it’s going to be difficult for them to do so if the Fed starts buying up large amounts of U.S. government debt, said MF Global analyst Jessica Hoversen. The Fed’s moves would just accelerate a decline in the dollar, which was already on a weaker course because of slowing growth.
In other trading Wednesday, the British pound was nearly flat at $1.5896 from $1.5901. The dollar dropped to a new record low of 0.9600 Swiss francs, moving up to 0.9608 in late trading from 0.9661 Swiss francs late Tuesday.
The U.S. currency also fell to 1.0099 Canadian dollars from 1.0160 Canadian dollars, notching a six-month low earlier at 1.0063 Canadian dollars, and tumbled to its weakest point versus the Australian dollar since July 2008.MORE NEWS: 'Your Life Does Not End Because You Have A Diagnosis': Shantel Smith Opens Up About Her Battle With Multiple Sclerosis Before 'Survivor'
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