Foreign Exchange

U.S. dollar down, still set for best year since 2015

Photo illustration of Euro and USD banknotes. The U.S. dollar steadied just below recent peaks on Wednesday, as investors waited to hear from the Federal Reserve and pondered whether weak U.S. data may slow the pace of rate hikes.
Nicolas Economou | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The dollar was on track to post its best year since 2015 on Friday in the last trading day of a year dominated by Federal Reserve rate hikes and fears of a sharp slowdown in global growth.

As 2022 draws to a close, the dollar was set to notch a 7.9% annual gain against a basket of currencies - its biggest annual jump in seven years. But the dollar has pared gains in recent weeks as investors look for signs of when the Fed's interest-rate-hiking cycle might end.

The Fed has raised rates by a total of 425 basis points since March in an attempt to curb surging inflation.

With liquidity lower due to holidays, the dollar index was down around 0.433% on the day at 103.530 .

"I think everyone is struggling with the question of whether the big problem in 2023 will be weak growth or stubborn inflation," said Adam Button, chief currency analyst at ForexLive. "If it's weak growth, the U.S. dollar will fall. If it's high inflation, then the U.S. dollar will rally."

The euro was up 0.34% on the day to $1.0697 , on pace for a 5.9% annual loss versus the dollar, compared with last year's 7% drop. A combination of weak euro-zone growth, the war in Ukraine and the Fed's hawkishness has put the euro under pressure this year.

"Higher rates paired with stronger economic growth are helping to pull flows into the euro area, but any of that is at risk, particularly if energy prices do rise again, or the [European Central Bank] starts to turn less hawkish," said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Corpay.

The British pound was last up 0.09% at $1.2063, on pace for a 10.8% annual drop .

The Australian dollar, seen as a liquid proxy for risk appetite, was up 0.41% on the day at $0.681 , but set to drop 6.4% on the year overall.

China's offshore yuan was down 0.73% against the U.S. dollar at $6.9215 . It was on pace to drop 8.7% this year, hurt by dollar strength and a domestic economic slowdown.

Optimism about China's reopening after three years of strict COVID-19 curbs has been tempered by surging infections that threaten more economic disruptions.

Jan Von Gerich, chief analyst at Nordea, said China's reopening "will be a source of volatility."

“But when we get past that, when we really get to the really positive economic impact, I think it should boost risk appetite globally," he said.

The U.S. dollar was down around 1.63% against the Japanese yen, at 130.860. .

The Bank of Japan's ultra-dovish stance has the dollar set to gain 13.7% versus the yen this year, in the yen's worst performance since 2013.

The Swiss franc was steady versus the dollar, at 0.923 .

The Swiss National Bank increased the amount of the Swiss currency it sold in the third quarter of 2022, the central bank said on Friday, indicating that its focus has switched from stemming the franc's strength to fighting inflation.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin last fell 0.26% to $16,550, down more than 64% so far in 2022.