The dollar struggled at multi-month lows against the yen and euro yesterday following more weak US data, while most stock markets rose in line with a strong lead from Wall Street.
Figures showing that growth in US factory activity slowed last month followed last week’s soft consumer spending report and news that the world’s top economy expanded less than expected in the first quarter.
The data will likely mean the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates any time soon, providing some support to stock markets but also fuelling concerns about the global outlook.
In afternoon trade the dollar fell to 105.57 yen, a fresh 18-month low.
The yen’s recent rally, which picked up pace last week when the Bank of Japan shocked markets by not expanding its stimulus, has led Tokyo to warn of possible intervention as it tries to protect the country’s exporters.
The euro was at $1.1581, having broken the $1.15 barrier on Monday for the first time in nine months following the US factory report. This came hours after a similar survey of eurozone manufacturing activity showed a slight improvement.
Attention now turns to the release of US jobs data on Friday. Many expect a slowdown in hiring, which would in turn force the Fed to further delay tightening monetary policy.
The weaker dollar lifted US markets on Monday, with all three main indexes ending sharply higher. That filtered through to Asia, where most bourses were in positive territory.
Shanghai rose 1.9% after three straight losses, while Sydney soared more than 2% after Australia’s central bank slashed interest rates to a record low. The decision sent the country’s dollar 0.8% lower against the greenback.
Seoul gained 0.4% and Wellington put on 0.8%. Manila and Jakarta were also higher. However, Hong Kong shed 1.9% and Singapore eased 0.8%.
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