With interest rates nearly at zero percent in the U.S., global investors seeking higher risks and returns are borrowing dollars to invest in higher yielding instruments such as stocks and commodities leading to a strong inverse relationship between the S&P 500 and the Dollar Index in 2009.
The Dollar Index, a measure of the dollar against a basket of six leading currencies (EUR, JPY, GBP, CAD, CHF, SEK) is trading at a 15-month low, as it tumbled on Wednesday November 25 to an intraday low of 74.23, its weakest level since 8/7/08. In the past week, the dollar fell to a 14-year low against the yen as it traded around 84.92 Japanese yen per USD on 11/27, its lowest level since July 1995, and down ~3.7% year-to-date. The dollar is also significantly weaker against other major currencies such as the euro, trading well above $1.5 per euro in recent trading sessions and falling to a 15-month low against the currency. The euro has appreciated ~7.8% against the dollar year to date.
The inverse relationship between the dollar and stocks is statistically significant with a negative correlation coefficient of -0.81 for the year and almost a perfect -1 in recent months. This is atypical when compared to other points in history. For example, the correlation coefficient was only -0.43 in 2008. See the chart below how the two move opposite one another, particularly since the summer.