Dollar at highest since 2003; oil falls in choppy trade

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar index touched a near 14-year high on Wednesday, while oil prices fell in a volatile session as traders were caught between a build in U.S. stockpiles and the chance of an agreement on an output cut.

U.S. dollar notes are seen in this November 7, 2016 picture illustration. Picture taken November 7. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

On Wall Street, declines in bank stocks more than offset gains in the technology sector. The S&P 500 had ended on Tuesday at a 10-week high while the Dow industrials set a record close, fueled by a post-U.S. election rally.

“People with money on the sidelines are looking for a place to put it. They’re looking for names that haven’t rallied as much and ones that have rallied are taking a bit of a breather,” said Paul Hickey, co-founder at research firm Bespoke Investment Group in Harrison, New York.

The dollar has surged in the past week, tracking Treasury yields higher on the expectation that increased U.S government spending could trigger higher inflation and force the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy more quickly than expected.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 54.92 points, or 0.29 percent, to 18,868.14, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 3.45 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,176.94 while the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 18.96 points, or 0.36 percent, to 5,294.58.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 fell 0.21 percent, while MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS edged down 0.11 percent.

Emerging market stocks .MSCIEF rose 0.7 percent but remained near a four-month low hit Monday.


Oil prices fell in choppy trading as the market weighed Russia’s comments on a possible meeting with Saudi Arabia about output cuts against a bigger-than-expected U.S. crude storage build.

U.S. crude CLc1 last fell 0.9 percent to $45.41 a barrel and Brent LCOc1 traded at $46.42, down 1.1 percent on the day. Crude had risen more than 1 percent after a statement from the Russian energy minister.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to cut taxes and increase infrastructure spending could boost economic activity while adding to the deficit, and his proposals to deport illegal immigrants and impose tariffs on cheap imports are seen driving inflation higher.

That prospect triggered a selloff in U.S. bonds that lifted yields across the board, and raised expectations that U.S. interest rates will rise faster than previously anticipated, giving support to the dollar.

U.S. interest rate futures are pricing in an 81 percent chance of a rate hike of 25 basis points at the next Fed meeting, scheduled for December.

The dollar index, a measure of the greenback's value against a basket of currencies, hit 100.57 .DXY, its highest since April 2003. It was last up 0.14 percent at 100.37.

The euro EUR= fell 0.3 percent to $1.0686, while the yen JPY= was little changed at 109.09 per dollar, having earlier fallen to 109.75. The greenback rose to an eight-year high against the Chinese yuan of 6.8798 yuan CNY=CFXS.

“The market has gone a bit too far ahead of itself. It looks vulnerable for a short-term pullback,” said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities in New York, referring to the dollar rally.

The recent sharp gains in the dollar may cause Fed policymakers to reconsider raising rates because of its repercussions on U.S. exports, analysts said.

“It’s reaching its limit. It could feed back negatively on U.S. growth,” Joachim Fels, global economic adviser at Pimco, said at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit in New York.

Weaker-than-forecast U.S. producer prices and industrial production data on Wednesday supported Treasury prices and capped dollar gains.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 6/32 in price to yield 2.2172 percent, down from 2.238 percent on Tuesday.

Spot gold XAU= fell 0.0 percent to $1,224.80 an ounce. U.S. gold futures GCcv1 rose 0.04 percent to $1,225.00.

Copper CMCU3 fell 1.7 percent to $5,433.15 a tonne.

Additional reporting by Sinead Carew, Scott DiSavino, Richard Leong and Dion Rabouin; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and James Dalgleish