Dollar bears undaunted after getting burned by jobs rally

Bets on the Fed barely budged after data

Expectations for the pace of the Federal Reserve (headed by Janet Yellen) tightening barely budged on the report  Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg
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Dollar bears, singed by the currency’s biggest rally since January, say they’re still holding their ground.

Bloomberg’s dollar index surged as much as 0.8 percent Friday on a government report showing that the U.S. added 209,000 jobs in July, beating the consensus prediction of 180,000. The data highlighted the strength of the world’s biggest economy and sparked a surprising reversal for the greenback, which sat close to a 15-month low ahead of Friday’s report.

The end result, though, is that the dollar is merely back to around where it started the week against the euro, which held above a key technical level that it breached last week for the first time since August 2015. The dollar-bear camp can also take cheer in one observation: Expectations for the pace of Federal Reserve tightening barely budged on the report.

“It is more of a story of providing underlying dollar support at key levels rather than a full-on reversal,” said Alan Ruskin, global co-head of foreign-exchange research at Deutsche Bank. “Unfortunately for the dollar, the ideal dollar scenario needs a significant change in Fed expectations.”

The dollar ended Friday at $1.1773 per euro, about 0.2 percent weaker on the week. Europe’s shared currency bottomed out Friday just above the $1.1714 level it exceeded last week for the first time in almost two years. A lower level, at $1.1616, will also provide support, Ruskin said.

For some chart-watchers, the dollar’s snapback came as no surprise. Technical indicators had suggested the greenback was due for a reversal. As of the end of trading on Thursday, the dollar index’s relative strength index showed the greenback was oversold on a daily and weekly basis, with the latter’s reading the lowest since 2007. It remains stretched on a weekly perspective.

The greenback is still down versus every Group-of-10 currency this year. It’s been undermined by interest-rate differentials that have gone against it and sinking confidence that the Trump administration will carry out plans to boost economic growth.

Euro three-month risk reversals, a barometer of medium-term directional bias, remain bullish on the shared currency, with calls at premium levels last seen in 2009.

The dollar’s rebound Friday was fueled in part by White House senior economic adviser Gary Cohn, who said he’s “confident” a tax overhaul can be accomplished by year-end.

While the remarks provided another opportunity to cover bets against the dollar, the currency is still set to weaken, said Vassili Serebriakov, an analyst at Credit Agricole.

“Cohn’s comments were another invitation to square dollar shorts and that added to the move, but I don’t think the market is jumping back into the long dollar Trump trade,” he said. “The positioning was vulnerable and that’s making the move more pronounced, but it’s still corrective.”