U.S. dollar dropped broadly on Friday after President Donald Trump ordered U.S. companies to start looking for an alternative to China after Beijing imposed more tariffs on American goods, further escalating tension between the world’s two largest economies in a prolonged trade dispute.
That triggered mass selling in the dollar, which fell from a three-week high against the euro and to one-week troughs versus the yen and Swiss franc. Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields also fell sharply. The dollar, however, strengthened against the Chinese yuan in the offshore market, hitting a two-week high
“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” Trump wrote on Twitter. His tweet followed China’s earlier move on Friday when it announced retaliatory tariffs against about $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, putting as much as an extra 10% on top of existing rates
“Clearly when you look at the U.S. yields and the dollar’s reaction, there are concerns that these latest comments from Trump on China will push the U.S. into recession,” said Marvin Loh, senior global markets strategist, at State Street in Boston.
Trump’s comments overshadowed a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who did not announce a major stimulus measure to ease a worsening global economic outlook, but set the stage for further interest rate cuts.
Powell said the U.S. economy was in a “favorable place” and the Fed would act as appropriate to keep the current economic expansion on track.
“I don’t really know what the market was thinking would be delivered, but if you’re betting on another two or three cuts, you wouldn’t be dissuaded by this speech based on the headlines,” said Richard Franulovich, head of FX strategy at Westpac in New York.
Trump, however, was enraged by Powell’s speech, saying he wasn’t sure who was the bigger enemy, the U.S. central bank chief or Chinese leader Xi Jinping. “As usual, the Fed did NOTHING! It is incredible that they can ‘speak’ without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “We have a very strong dollar and a very weak Fed. I will work ‘brilliantly’ with both, and the U.S. will do great.”
In midday trading, the euro rose 0.5 percent to $1.1134, after earlier touching a three-week low of $1.1052.
An index that tracks the dollar against six major currencies was down 0.55 percent at 97.64. The dollar fell to a one-week low against the yen and was last at 105.46, down 0.9 percent. It earlier hit a one-week high of 106.73.
Against the Chinese yuan, the dollar was up 0.6 percent at 7.13 yuan, after earlier touching a two-week high of 7.1332.