The dollar struggled at multi-month lows against the yen and euro on Tuesday following another weak batch of US data, while most stock markets rose in line with a strong lead from Wall Street.
Figures showing growth in US factory activity slowed last month, coming after last week’s soft consumer spending report and news that the world’s top economy did not expand as much as expected in the first quarter of the year.
The data will likely mean the Federal Reserve will not lift interest rates any time soon, providing some support to stock markets but also fuelling concerns about the global outlook.
In early trade the dollar fell to 106.06 yen at one point, a fresh 18-month low, before edging up slightly to 106.33 yen.
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 looks to protect the country’s exporters.
The euro was at $ 1.1533, having broken the $ 1.15 barrier Monday for the first time in nine months following the US factory report, which 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 that many expect to show a slowdown in hiring, which would in turn force the Fed to further delay tightening monetary policy.
The weaker dollar lifted US markets, with all three main indexes ending sharply higher. That filtered through to Asia, where most bourses were in positive territory.
Shanghai rose 1.2 percent after three straight losses, while Sydney was up 0.9 percent, Seoul gained 0.2 percent and Wellington put on 0.6 percent. Manila and Jakarta were also higher. However, Hong Kong shed more than one percent and Singapore eased 0.7 percent.
Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.
“The markets are telling us that the world is not coming unglued,” Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities, told Bloomberg TV in New York.
“As long as interest rates stay where they are, the dollar stays weak, commodity prices will do better and the markets should be OK even though it?s a little scary. There are plenty of things to worry about and there are plenty of people that are worried about them. The good bet is to stay long.”
The weaker dollar supported oil, which is priced in the greenback. The commodity, which has risen for four straight weeks, edged down Monday on profit-taking having hit a 2016 peak.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was up 0.7 percent and Brent added 0.6 percent.
– Key figures around 0230 GMT –
Hong Kong – DOWN 1.1 percent at 20,844.53
Shanghai – UP 1.2 percent at 2,974.64
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: Closed for public holiday
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $ 1.1533 from $ 1.1535 Friday
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.33 yen from 106.42 yen
New York – Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 17,891.16 (close)
London – FTSE 100: Closed for public holiday