Dollar dips as US policy worries, Fed minutes weigh

Dan Kitwood | Getty Images

The U.S. dollar fell against a basket of major currencies on Thursday on a perceived lack of progress on U.S. tax reform and public spending, while Wednesday's more dovish-than-expected Federal Reserve meeting minutes continued to weigh on the greenback.

The dollar fell as much as 0.54 percent against the yen to a six-day low of 112.68 yen, while the euro fell to a U.S. session low of $1.057 against the greenback.

Concerns over the shape of politics on both sides of the Atlantic helped the safe-haven yen, with anti-EU French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's campaign and U.S. President Donald Trump's policy timeline stoking demand for the Japanese currency.

New U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business Network that any policy steps the Trump administration takes would likely have a limited impact this year and told CNBC that
he wanted to see tax reform passed before Congress' August recess.

That was in line with comments by other politicians over the past month, but seemed to some investors to dial back Trump's own recent promises.

"While it remains very difficult to pin down a fixed schedule for Trump tax reforms, it now appears anything phenomenal will now be delayed," said Adam Myers, a currency strategist with Commonwealth Bank in London.

"Such policy drag should, at some stage, open up stock markets to disappointment and limit dollar strength."

Concerns over the potential risk of a Le Pen victory in France pushed the euro lower against currencies other than the dollar, including the yen, said Richard Scalone, co-head of foreign exchange at TJM Brokerage in Chicago.

The euro was higher against the dollar, despite a poll showing Le Pen was only 10 points behind conservative Francois Fillon but 22 points behind centrist Emmanuel Macron in the potential second-round run-offs.

Wednesday's Fed minutes, which showed that there was less urgency among voting members to raise interest rates, also kept the dollar depressed against its major rivals.

Dollar likely to weaken this year: UBS

"People were expecting slightly more hawkish minutes yesterday," Scalone of TJM Brokerage said.

Fed funds futures on Thursday implied traders saw just a 22.1 percent probability that the Fed would hike rates in March, up from Wednesday's 17.7 percent probability but still low, data from CME Group's FedWatch showed.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was last down 0.22 percent at 101.00.