Dollar Falls In Asia On Trump Woes, Yen Gains Smartly

Posted May 18, 2017

LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - The yen rose to its highest in two weeks and the Swiss franc hit a seven-week high against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday as an intensifying political scandal around U.S. President Donald Trump fuelled demand for safe-haven assets.

The euro surged above $1.10 on Tuesday, climbing 0.8 percent to its highest since Donald Trump was elected US president in November, as the dollar weakened broadly on worries over his disclosure of information to Russian officials.

The disclosure adds to concern over the administration's chances of passing legislation, including tax reform, that has been priced in partly by financial markets. US stocks were poised for a lower opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.4 percent.

While the euro zone picks up speed, traders are wondering whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will fail to deliver the June rate increase that they had been nearly fully pricing in last week, after some weaker-than-expected U.S. data.

The US dollar index is down by 0.4% at 98.46 as of 7:48 a.m. ET. Though the White House has denied the allegation, there's mounting unease in markets over the developments in the USA government.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, fell 0.13% to 97.97. Britain's jobless rate unexpectedly fell to a 42-year low of 4.6% in the three months to March, with employment rising by a healthy 122k in the first three months of the year.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.64 percent versus the greenback at 113.08 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2919, up 0.20 percent on the day. Wall Street was set to open flat.

Aside from these concerns, uncertainty regarding Trump's plan to boost infrastructure spending and cut taxes for businesses also grows.

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Amidst ongoing issues regarding declining crude oil prices and issues with Trump revealing classified information to Russia's top diplomat, the dollar hit a six-month low continuing from a recent snag the currency has hit in the past week.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.08 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.28 percent.

Dow Jones closed down by 0.02 percent, S&P 500 ended down by 0.07 percent, Nasdaq finished the day up by 0.33 percent.

The dollar fell after the release of lower-than-expected data on US housing starts, adding to a list of USA economic reports that have missed predictions to the downside.

Oil prices were little changed as traders awaited weekly US inventory data and after Kuwait joined top producers Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation in support of prolonging supply cuts through March 2018 to reduce a global crude glut.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 3/32 in price to yield 2.3274 percent, from 2.338 percent late on Monday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were up 0.4 percent at $49.03 per barrel.

EUR/USD is trading near a session high of 1.1158, its highest since November 9 when the currency peaked at 1.1300 before the USD began its post-election rally; the shared currency is extending its weekly gain vs the USD to ~2%.

Copper lost 0.04 percent to $5,610.85 a tonne.