The US dollar yesterday dropped against the Swiss franc and yen as dismal US labour market data raised expectations that the Federal Reserve could soon embark on another round of bond buying to aid the economy.
The euro fell 2 per cent against the franc to 1.1104 francs, extending a rapid dive from nearly 1.2000 francs on Monday. That put the single currency on course for its biggest ever weekly fall. The Swiss franc extended last week's impressive gains as concerns about the Eurozone debt crisis and a gloomy economic outlook prompted fund investors to seek the safe-haven franc and test the Swiss National Bank's resolve.
US employment growth ground to a halt in August as sagging confidence discouraged already skittish businesses from hiring. Non-farm payrolls were unchanged, the Labour Department said, the weakest reading since September, keeping recession fears on investors' radar.
"With the number coming in at zero, and the prior revised 32,000 lower, the Fed has gained greater political ability to enact a version of QE3 at their meeting in September," said Douglas Borthwick, managing director at Faros Trading.
"We see this as terrifically bearish for the dollar, bullish for gold and bullish for euro/dollar."
In early New York trade, the dollar was down 0.2 per cent at 76.78 yen and 1.8 per cent lower against the Swiss franc at 0.7810. The US Federal Reserve pumped about $2.3 trillion (Dh8 trillion) into the economy through two rounds by bond buying, called quantitative easing. These programmes diluted the value of the dollar as they were tantamount to printing money. "QE3 will accomplish two things — assets in the US will be further inflated, and the weaker dollar will help US multinationals as their foreign earnings will inflate on the weaker dollar."
The euro fell to a three-week low against the dollar of $1.4208 before recovering to trade down 0.2 per cent at $1.4226. "People are getting used to the fact that negative deposit rates are not much of a deterrent to the market if the Swiss franc appreciates sharply," said Chris Turner, head of forex strategy at ING.
SNB not likely to inject liquidity
There was no sign of the Swiss National Bank in the Swiss forward market to reinject liquidity and stem strength in the currency, whose stellar performance is a problem for its exporters, although traders remained on alert for more measures.
SNB injections of liquidity last month pushed Swiss deposit rates into negative territory, forcing the currency to retreat from record highs, but analysts said persistent economic concerns are maintaining interest in it as a safe place to put funds.