By Kevin Buckland
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar sank to a more than two-month low versus major peers on Monday after a disappointing U.S. employment report prompted investors to temper expectations for higher interest rates, with focus now shifting to inflation data this week.
The United States created a little more than a quarter of the jobs that economists had forecast last month and the unemployment rate unexpectedly ticked higher, pouring cold water on speculation about runaway inflation.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six rivals, stood at 90.259, after dipping as low as 90.128 for the first time since Feb. 26 earlier in the session.
Notably, the British pound was the biggest gainer among the most-traded currencies, rallying 0.5% to the highest since Feb. 25, despite Scotland’s leader saying another referendum on independence was inevitable after her party’s resounding election victory.
“The USD’s choppy downtrend can continue this week,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:CMWAY) strategist Kim Mundy wrote in a client note, predicting a break above $1.22 for the euro.
“The unexpected slow recovery in the U.S. labour market reinforces the FOMC’s patient approach to monetary policy,” while “the improving global economic outlook is a medium-term weight on the USD.”
The euro rose 0.1% to $1.2172, earlier touching the highest since Feb. 26 at $1.2177.
The dollar rose to 108.865 yen, but remained not far from its lowest since April 27.
Even before the big payrolls miss, Fed Chair Jerome Powell had argued the U.S. labour market is far short of where it needs to be to start talking of tapering asset purchases and that a near-term spike in inflation will be transitory.
Several Fed officials will have a chance to reinforce that message this week, beginning with Governor Lael Brainard on Tuesday.
April’s consumer price index is set to be released on Wednesday.
The Aussie dollar traded close to a more-than-two-month high at $0.7847, while Canada’s loonie rallied to a fresh 3-1/2-year high of $1.2111.
Sterling soared as high as $1.4058 as the biggest gainer among the dollar’s most-traded rivals, as traders focused on the UK economic recovery rather than the potential for another Scottish referendum, National Australia Bank (OTC:NABZY) strategist Gavin Friend wrote in a report.
“The USD is in retreat and the UK economic recovery is turning for the better,” Friend wrote.
Any independence vote is “a long way down the road, and in our view not something to sustainably affect GBP right now,” with the pair heading for $1.45 by the end of June, he said.
In cryptocurrencies, ether extended this month’s record run, surging more than 5% to an unprecedented $4,148.88. The second-biggest digital token has rallied 41% so far in May.
Bigger rival bitcoin remained stuck below $60,000, consolidating after retreating as low as $47,004.20 on April 25 following its surge to a record $64,895.22 in the middle of that month.
Meanwhile, no. 4 virtual currency dogecoin languished around $0.53 after losing more than a third of its price on Sunday, when Elon Musk called the token a “hustle” during his guest-host spot on the “Saturday Night Live” comedy sketch TV show.
“Musk is probably happy to jump on the joke of what is a meme(coin), but investors are probably feeling real pain now,” said Justin d’Anethan, Hong Kong-based head of Exchange Sales at Diginex, a digital asset exchange.
“The supply is essentially unlimited (for dogecoin), and so unsustainable long-term. It’s a question of who will sell first and who will be left holding the bags.”