Dollar holds steady as US yields hit 19-month low

An employee of a bank counts US dollar notes.
Kham | Reuters

The dollar stayed firm against a basket of currencies on Tuesday, supported by trade and political worries and a strong rise in U.S. consumer confidence, even as longer-dated U.S. bond yields dropped to 19-month lows.

The euro rebounded from session lows as investors were relieve that pro-Europe parties won a majority of European parliamentary seats. Currency trading remained light even as U.S. and U.K.-based traders returned from holidays.

"This is the first full day for the markets after holidays in both U.K. and U.S. yesterday and the economic calendar is nearly barren today adding to the lackluster tone in the trade," said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management in New York.

At 2:36 p.m. ET, an index that tracks the greenback against the euro, yen, sterling and three other currencies was 0.3% higher at 97.93.

The dollar strengthened after the Conference Board said its gauge on U.S. consumer confidence rose to 134.1 in May, the strongest since November. Analysts had forecast a reading of 130.00.

Earlier, benchmark 10-year Treasury yields fell to 2.273% after U.S. President Donald Trump signaled the United States and China were far from a trade deal. It was the lowest 10-year yield since October 2017.

Investors have been loading up on safe-haven U.S. government debt due to trade worries and political uncertainty. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, whose far-right League triumphed in European elections on Sunday, said the European Commission could fine Italy 3 billion euros for breaking EU debt and deficit rules, a comment that weighed on the single currency.

The euro has recovered, holding steady at $1.117. The euro hit a near 23-month low of $1.11055 last week.

European leaders now meet in Brussels to begin the process of filling a number of top EU posts, from the head of the European Commission to the European Central Bank.

The yen was little changed at 109.47 per dollar as U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he expected Japan and the United States to announce a trade agreement "probably in August."