Dollar hold gains against yen on upbeat US data

The dollar edged up against the yen on Wednesday within sight of a 10-1/2 month high in thin holiday trade, after strong U.S. economic data reinforced expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would be more hawkish in the year ahead.

The dollar was last flat against the yen at 117.45, after gaining nearly 0.5 percent to 117.63 yen on Tuesday in the wake of data showing U.S. consumer confidence hit 15-year peak in December.

The dollar rose as high as 118.66 yen on Dec. 15.

The Conference Board said its U.S. Consumer Confidence Index rose to 113.7, the highest since August 2001, as expectations for strength in job growth, business conditions and the stock market continued to build following Donald Trump’s election to president.

U.S. house prices also continued their steady recovery in October, although a spike in borrowing costs could present a headwind to sustained home value gains, as rates rose after the election.

The upbeat data helped underscore expectations that the U.S. central bank would raise interest rates at a faster pace next year, a view that gained traction after the Fed on Dec. 14 projected three rate hikes next year compared with the two it predicted in September.

“The next data to watch is U.S. payrolls due on Jan. 6,” said Ayako Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo. “Markets are prepared for data showing strong U.S. economy but not for the opposite.”

Sera added that volatility could be high for yen trade as the Japanese market thins ahead of the New Year holiday.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major peers, last stood at 103.00, below its 14-year peak of 103.650 touched on Dec. 20.

The dollar index has risen 5.3 percent since the U.S. election as the greenback was propelled higher on expectations that Trump would embark on fiscal stimulus.

The euro was last flat against the greenback at $1.0462.

Source: Reuters