By Sinéad Carew
NEW YORK (Reuters) -The dollar rose on the first trading day of the year, supported by higher U.S. yields while investors waited for U.S. jobs data and European inflation numbers for clues on central banks’ policies.
The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against six counterparts, rose 0.799%, on track for its biggest daily percentage gain since October.
It fell 2% in 2023, snapping two years of gains due to investor expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut rates significantly this year while the economy remains resilient.
In U.S. Treasuries, benchmark 10-year notes were up 7.7 basis points at 3.937%, eying their biggest daily increase in more than three weeks.
While the dollar came under pressure last month after the Federal Reserve indicated that it would cut rates in 2024, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co global head of currency strategy Win Thin said “markets are coming to realize that the U.S. economy remains robust” and is likely to stay robust this year.
But while Thin argues that “a soft landing would likely lead to 2-3 insurance cuts in 2024,” the market is pricing in six rate cuts this year.
So until these expectations shift, the dollar could stay “under pressure and vulnerable,” he said.
On the other side of the dollar’s ascent was the euro, which was down 0.91% to $1.0944 as traders digested data showing euro zone factory activity contracted in December for an 18th straight month, and sterling was last trading at $1.2619, down 0.82% on the day.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.75% versus the greenback at 141.94 per dollar.
Investors have a fairly busy week ahead with a slew of economic data including European inflation data and U.S. data on job openings and non-farm payrolls, which will help shape market expectations regarding monetary policy moves from the Fed and European Central Bank.
Minutes from the most recent meeting of the Fed’s rate setting Federal Open Market Committee in December are scheduled for release on Wednesday and will provide further insight into the central bankers’ thinking on the potential for a move to interest rate cuts.
Markets are now pricing in a roughly 79% chance of interest rate cuts from the Fed starting from March, according to CME FedWatch tool.
Traders were also processing volatile oil prices with an earlier rally disappearing with interest rate jitters in focus as concerns eased that tensions in the Red Sea could disrupt supplies.
That, however, did not help currencies of oil-exporting countries hold off the stronger greenback.
The dollar climbed 1.7% on the Norwegian crown and rose 0.6% against the Canadian dollar while the Australian dollar dipped 0.8% against the greenback.
The crypto world started the year with a bang, with bitcoin up 3.3% after earlier touching $45,912.48, its highest level since April 2022, on rising expectations that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will soon approve exchange-traded spot bitcoin funds.
(Additional reporting by Alun John in London, Ankur Banerjee in Singapore; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)