The incredible falling dollar: Greenback hits new 2017 low

The dollar skidded to new lows against a basket of rival currencies on Friday, and some strategists see further downside ahead for the currency that's already lost nearly 11 percent this year.

The dollar index hit its lowest level since January 2015 in early Thursday trading, at the 91.011 mark; this was a further decline from the 2017 low hit in the previous session. As the likelihood appears to dwindle that the Federal Reserve will hike its federal funds target rate later this year (as inflation remains tepid and political drama swirls in Washington), so too has the relative value of the dollar.

The greenback has been under "significant" pressure for precisely this reason, said Stacey Gilbert, head of derivatives strategy at Susquehanna. Furthering the depressed levels in the dollar are geopolitical issues related to the North Korea nuclear situation and "kicking the can down the road" in raising the federal borrowing limit.

"We continue to have dovish speak from two Fed speakers just recently this week, which is also causing some pressure here on the dollar," Gilbert said Thursday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

"The sentiment in the dollar is certainly cautious, and continues to be cautious. You can see the pressure. The consensus called that the dollar was going to be stronger this year; probably one of the worst consensus calls out there," she added.

The dollar has been "unable to find any traction" as U.S. yields continue to fall, pointed out Brown Brothers Harriman currency strategists in a note to clients Friday morning. Indeed, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note hit a fresh low Friday, the lowest since just after the U.S. election in November.

The recent relative strength in the euro has beaten the dollar down, wrote the strategists led by Marc Chandler. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said in remarks Thursday that the "recent volatility in the exchange rate represents a source of uncertainty which requires monitoring with regard to its possible implications for the medium-term outlook for price stability."

On a technical level, the dollar index has been consolidating since it advanced meaningfully in 2014, pointed out Craig Johnson, chief market technician at Piper Jaffray. The next level of support to the downside, Johnson said, appears to be the 89 level (which has not been touched since late 2014). This would imply a more than 2.5 percent downside from current levels.

However, if in fact the dollar index falls to 89, "I'd suspect that you're going to get a bounce at that level. So anybody that wants to get really negative on the dollar here, I suspect is going to be disappointed from a trading perspective," Johnson said Thursday on "Trading Nation," and would expect to see a "relief rally" if the dollar reaches 89.

"There's no question, from our perspective, that the negative commentary, or the dovish commentary from the Fed, and also perhaps now uncertainty with who is going to lead the Fed going forward — the most powerful central bank in the world — is creating … some dollar weakness," he said.


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Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET). In addition, he contributes to CNBC and CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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