Dollar slows but set for best week since the financial crisis

The dollar eased on Friday after a rally that put it on track for its biggest weekly rise since the 2008 financial crisis, as a global scramble for funding sent other currencies reeling.

The dollar index weakened 0.8% to 101.94 on Friday. 

Currencies from the Australian dollar to the British pound tumbled to multi-year lows this week, after coordinated rate cuts by central banks and billions of dollars of fund injections failed to calm panicky markets.

But Friday restored some calm after days of selling. The Australian dollar jumped 3.4%, although analysts warned that it was too early to call an end to the rout.

The U.S. dollar is up about 3.5% against a basket of currencies through a week when investors have liquidated everything from stocks to bonds to gold and commodities. At its three-year peak of nearly 103 hit overnight, the dollar was up more than 5%, its biggest weekly gain since October 2008.

Gauges of expected market swings in the euro for one-month maturities edged lower. Currency swap spreads, where most of the funding pressure in dollar markets was evident, eased.

“While FX volatility is lower and currency basis swaps are less scary for example, the situation remains stressed,” said Kit Juckes, a strategist at Societe Generale in London.

The euro was among the major gainers, up more than 1% to $1.0832. Sterling rose 3.3% from a 35-year low to $1.1878.

“People are selling everything and the common thread is they just want cash,” said Stuart Oakley a Singapore-based executive with Nomura, who runs the bank’s trading with its clients.

“People just want cash because at the end of the day, people don’t know where their next revenue is coming from and they’ve got payments to meet. I don’t think that’s going to change.”

Cross-currency basis swaps, which show the cost of borrowing dollars abroad, showed that strains remained.

The premium over interbank rates that investors were paying to swap yen for one-year dollar funding was around 68 basis points, close to the 2016 highs hit last week.

Euro cross-currency basis swap spreads also remain wide. So is the FRA-OIS spread, a barometer of risk in the interbank market.

Source: CNBC/Reuters

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