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Dollar surges to highest level since March 2003 after US economic data

Frank van den Bergh | E+ | Getty Images

The dollar surged to a more than 13-year peak on Wednesday, bolstered by upbeat U.S. economic data that showed the economy on track for steady growth and reinforced expectations of interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve next month and in 2017.

The greenback also posted sharp gains against the yen, rising to a more than seven-month high, and climbed versus the euro to its highest since early December.

A 0.4 percent rebound in U.S. durable goods orders last month after a decline in September as well as solid U.S. jobless claims that have been below 300,000 for 90 straight weeks boosted the multiple rate hike view.

"Speculation of a December rate hike reached mind-boggling levels," said Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at Forex Time in Croydon, England. "This could ensure dollar strength remains a key theme moving forward."

Markets are now pricing in a nearly 100 percent probability of a December Fed rate increase, according to CME FedWatch.

In mid-morning New York trading, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six major currencies, rose 0.5 percent to 101.63, after earlier soaring to a 13-1/2 year peak of 101.78. It has climbed more than 3 percent since President-elect Donald Trump's victory two weeks ago.

Investors are betting the dollar will be strengthened by Trump's plans for fiscal stimulus, which may drive the Fed to raise rates faster than had been anticipated because of increased inflation.

Source: FactSet

China's offshore yuan, meanwhile, fell 0.5 percent on the day to a record low of 6.9470 per dollar as traders grappled with the strengthening U.S. currency and signs of accelerating capital outflows following Trump's shock election win.

Markets are now looking to the minutes of the Fed's November policy meeting due later on Wednesday.

FXTM's Otunuga said the minutes are widely expected to generate a hawkish tone and with a U.S. rate increase almost a certainty next month, most would be focusing on clues about interest rate timings for 2017.

The dollar rose more than 1.3 percent against the yen to 112.59 ahead of Thursday's U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. It earlier hit a more than 7-month high of 112.47 yen.

The euro, meanwhile, continued its descent, down 0.7 percent at $1,054.47, after touching its lowest level for the year.

The euro is facing a host of political risks in the coming months, including an Italian constitutional referendum in less than two weeks and French and German elections next year, that are seen as likely to drive the currency lower.