By Kevin Buckland
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar languished near its weakest level in a month against major peers on Friday, hurt by a stronger euro as traders bet on earlier European interest rate hikes and as an equity rally sapped demand for safer assets.
New Zealand’s dollar sagged amid a slide in consumer confidence, while cryptocurrency ether climbed to a record high.
The , which measures the currency against six main rivals including the euro, was little changed at 93.354, close to Thursday’s low at 93.277 – a level not seen since Sept. 27.
The euro was largely flat at $1.16855 after rising as high as $1.1692 overnight for the first time since Sept. 28.
Against the yen, another traditional safe haven, the dollar was mostly unchanged at 113.50, continuing to ease back gradually from the almost three-year high of 114.695 reached last week.
An index of global shares rose to the cusp of a record peak this week, powered by an earnings-driven rally to consecutive record highs on Wall Street, including overnight.
The euro was propelled on Thursday after comments by European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde were interpreted in some quarters as not going far enough in affirming the central bank’s dovish stance.
Foreign-exchange markets have become volatile around central bank activity. Big moves began Wednesday with hawkish comments from the Bank of Canada, and were followed on Thursday with an action by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the ECB’s remarks – all ahead of meetings next week of the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.
The Fed is widely expected to begin to taper stimulus from next month, with interest rate lift-off following next year.
Lagarde’s “pushback was not forceful enough,” opening the way for the euro to test $1.1680 in the near term, TD Securities strategists wrote in a note.
However, “extrapolating (euro strength) beyond that seems like a big ask a week ahead of the Fed’s meeting where taper will be announced,” they said.
Traders will have their eyes on economic gauges from both regions later in the day, with Europe seeing a preliminary reading of the consumer price index, while the U.S. gets personal spending and income data.
Elsewhere, sterling was almost flat at $.1.37925 as it continued to fluctuate near a one-month high reached last week.
The pound has been buffeted recently by speculation over whether the Bank of England would proceed with an interest rate hike at its meeting next week.
The Australian dollar was largely unchanged at $0.75425, after reaching the highest since early July at $0.75555 in the previous session.
That uptick was fuelled when the RBA declined to buy a government bond at the heart of its stimulus program, fanning speculation the central bank will allow rates to rise earlier than expected. The central bank again resisted buying the key bond earlier on Friday.
The New Zealand dollar fell 0.3% to $0.71795 after a gauge of consumer confidence dipped sharply in October.
In cryptocurrencies, ether rose to a record $4,400, while bigger rival bitcoin also gained to trade around $62,000, but down from the record $67,016.50 reached last week.