Dollar Falls as U.S. Considers Syria Weapons Plan
The dollar fell against most of its major peers as Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. will explore a Russian proposal for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons while seeking approval for military strikes.
Japan’s currency declined versus all of its 16 major counterparts for a second day as minutes of the Bank of Japan’s August meeting showed policy makers agreed monetary easing was taking effect. Australia’s dollar advanced to the strongest in six weeks as Chinese reports added to signs of recovery in the South Pacific nation’s largest trading partner. Norway’s krone jumped after inflation accelerated.
“It’s kind of a risk-back-on situation, aided and abetted by what’s going on in Syria,” Andrew Wilkinson, the chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York, said in a telephone interview. “The fundamental picture is now a little bit more muddied with regard to tapering. The dollar is a bit softer on those grounds,” he said, referring to the Federal Reserve’s debate on reducing stimulus.
The Bloomberg U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against 10 major peers, traded at 1,027.88 at 5 p.m. in New York after touching 1,026.53, the lowest level since Aug. 28.
The yen dropped 0.9 percent to 133.18 per euro after sliding to the weakest since May 22. Japan’s currency fell 0.8 percent to 100.39 per dollar after depreciating to the least since July 25. The euro was little changed at $1.3268.
South Africa’s rand weakened for the first time in five days, retreating from a four-week high, after the nation’s current-account gap widened more than forecast. The currency dropped 0.3 percent to 9.9828 per dollar.
Indonesia’s rupiah tumbled on speculation Bank Indonesia relaxed efforts to prop up the exchange rate. The currency fell as much as 3.2 percent to 11,515 per dollar in the biggest slide since November 2008 before paring losses to trade 0.7 percent weaker at 11,235 per dollar.
Norway’s krone climbed 1.4 percent to 7.8537 per euro after a report showed inflation accelerated to 3.2 percent in August, compared with a median estimate of 3 percent in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Currency volatility as measured by JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s G-7 Volatility Index declined as much as 0.05 percentage point to 9.07 percent, the lowest since Aug. 12. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of stocks gained 0.7 percent.
France said it will submit a Russian-backed plan to confiscate Syria’s chemical weapons to the United Nations, as Interfax reported that Bashar al-Assad’s government accepted the proposal.
“We’re waiting for that proposal, but we’re not waiting for long,” Kerry told the House Armed Services Committee today. “It has to be swift, it has to be real, it has to be verifiable. It cannot be a delaying tactic.”
The “credible threat of force” by the U.S. is the only reason that Syria and its ally, Russia, are even considering a possible diplomatic solution, Kerry said.
The yen also weakened as minutes of the BOJ’s Aug. 7-8 meeting showed policy board members said bond purchases were putting downward pressure on yields and consumer-price expectations have turned favorable.
“It seems like the U.S. is considering other options, other than striking, mainly that Russian proposal and I think that’s giving markets more comfort,” Sireen Harajli, a foreign-exchange strategist at Mizuho Bank in New York, said in a telephone interview. “In terms of the effect on the dollar, if that situation intensifies, then you’re going to see safe-haven buying.”
The yen has declined 1.7 percent in the past week, the worst performer of 10 developed-nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation Weighted Indexes. The dollar dropped 1 percent and the euro fell 0.5 percent.
The Aussie strengthened for a third day against its U.S. counterpart after an index of business confidence improved to the highest since May 2011 as the prospect of a change in government lifted sentiment.
The confidence index for August jumped to 6 from minus 3, according to a National Australia Bank Ltd. survey released today. Factory production in China increased 10.4 percent last month from a year earlier, compared with a 9.7 percent gain in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said in Beijing.
“The Aussie dollar is reacting positively to data out of China,” said Takuya Kawabata, an analyst at Gaitame.com Research Institute Ltd. in Tokyo. “Expectations that China’s economic recovery is under way are building.”
Australia’s dollar rose 0.9 percent to 93.12 U.S. cents, the highest since July 24.
Trading in over-the-counter foreign-exchange options totaled $16 billion, compared with $21.1 billion yesterday, according to data reported by U.S. banks to the Depository Trust Clearing Corp. and tracked by Bloomberg. Volume in options on the U.S. dollar-yen exchange rate amounted to $4 billion, the largest share of trades at 26 percent. Options on the Aussie-U.S. dollar rate totaled $2.5 billion, or 16 percent.
Greenback-yen options trading was 37 percent less than the average for the past five Mondays at a similar time in the day, according to Bloomberg analysis. Aussie-U.S. dollar options trading was 5 percent less than average.
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