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Markets

Dollar dominates as hedge funds cut shorts on Treasury yield rise

  • Turkey's shock weekend decision to replace its hawkish central bank governor also supported the dollar's safe-haven appeal.
  • Markets have been slow to catch on to the rising dollar theme in recent weeks as investors had bet that a global economic recovery would prompt buying of riskier currencies.
Published March 22, 2021
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LONDON: The US dollar held near a four-month high on Monday as rising US Treasury yields fuelled demand for the greenback and prompted hedge funds to cut bearish positions.

Turkey's shock weekend decision to replace its hawkish central bank governor also supported the dollar's safe-haven appeal.

Markets have been slow to catch on to the rising dollar theme in recent weeks as investors had bet that a global economic recovery would prompt buying of riskier currencies.

But rising US Treasury yields and the prospect of more lockdowns in several euro zone countries has driven a widespread unwinding of short dollar bets.

"Speculators finally capitulated to dollar strength," said Marshall Gittler, head of investment research at BDSwiss.

Though benchmark US Treasury yields declined on Monday, yields on 10-year US Treasury debt have risen for seven consecutive weeks.

As a result, traders cut their long euro bets to their lowest levels since June 2020 while net positions against the Japanese yen flipped into positive territory for the first time in more than a year, latest positioning data showed.

LIRA SLIDES

Worries that Turkish market upheaval would spill into others also supported the dollar, especially against currencies like the Australian dollar and Norway's crown.

The Turkish lira stood at 7.9600 per dollar, down nearly 10% from its Friday close. At one point the lira fell by as much as 14.9% to 8.4850, close to a record low of 8.5800.

"Other emerging market countries are not in the same position as Turkey, but there still could be some contagion," said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

JP Morgan increased its long US dollar position in its currency portfolio by shorting the Swedish crown along with existing shorts of the euro, Swiss franc and the Japanese yen.

Against a basket of its rivals, the dollar was broadly steady at 92.022 and within sight of a near four-month high of 92.50 hit earlier this month.

The euro fell slightly to $1.1892.

A decline in risk appetite weighed on the Australian dollar , which fell 0.3% to $0.7724. The New Zealand dollar fell 0.1% to $0.7158.

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