November 17, 2016 / 1:14 AM / 2 years ago

Dollar scales to 13-1/2-year peak on Yellen, U.S. data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar rose to a 13-1/2-year high against a basket of currencies on Thursday as the bond market resumed its sell-off on growing certainty of a U.S. interest rate increase in December and signs of solid U.S. economic growth.

An employee counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a foreign exchange house in Monterrey, Mexico, November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told the Joint Economic Committee of Congress a rise in rates was likely “relatively soon” and saw no evidence of an acceleration in inflation or interest rates next year.

Yellen’s rate-hike view dovetailed with U.S. data showing housing starts reached a nine-year peak in October and weekly jobless claims fell to a 43-year low.

These factors reinforced the notion that the Fed will likely raise rates for the first time in a year at its Dec. 13-14 policy meeting, analysts said.

“The dollar is benefiting from Fed expectations and the economy, which appear to be on the same page,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.

Earlier Thursday, the dollar slipped as traders speculated whether Yellen would raise caution about the dollar’s spike and a surge in U.S. bond yields after Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election.

The greenback has risen at a breakneck pace after Trump’s surprise win on Nov. 8 unleashed inflation bets based on tax cuts and federal spending he promised during his campaign.

The dollar index .DXY, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, was up 0.5 percent at 100.94 after hitting a 13-1/2-year high at 100.96. Since Nov. 8, it has gained 3.1 percent.

A renewed selloff in U.S. Treasuries due to the encouraging data and rekindled appetite for stocks and risky assets recharged the dollar’s recent strength.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note US10YT=RR yield was up 6 basis points at 2.28 percent, only 2 basis points away from a 10-month peak set this week.

The S&P 500 index .SPX closed up 0.5 percent, near a record high.

The euro EUR= ended near an 11-1/2-month low against the dollar at $1.0620, down 0.6 percent on the day.

The yen took a knock overnight when the Bank of Japan conducted its first special operation to curb rising yields on Japanese government bonds. It was priced to attract no bids, but knocked Japanese yields deeper into negative territory.

The dollar was up 0.8 percent at 109.94 yen JPY= after hitting its strongest level against the yen since early June.

Additional reporting by Patrick Graham in London; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and James Dalgleish

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