Dollar starts off 2022 on higher note as yields climb

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: A money changer counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange office in Ankara

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK(Reuters) - The U.S. dollar rose against a basket of major currencies on Monday, the first trading day of the new year, in sync with government bond yields as investors anticipate the Federal Reserve will stay on its path of interest rate hikes in 2022.

While the surge in coronavirus cases caused by the Omicron variant continued to impact global travel and public services, investors remained optimistic that lockdowns would be averted.

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of a third dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged between 12 and 15 years, and narrowed the time for all booster shots to five months from six months after primary doses.

Yields on U.S. two-year notes, which are sensitive to rate hike expectations, along with 5-year notes, soared to their highest level since March 2020. Benchmark U.S. 10-year and 5-year yields rose to six-week peaks. The U.S. central bank is seen as likely to begin hiking interest rates by mid-2022.

"Markets in general have a short attention span when it comes to anything COVID related and it has been this way since the very beginning," said Erik Bregar, president and CEO at Bregar Capital Corp in Toronto.

"I don’t feel a risk-off vibe today because oil is steady, stocks are still green... right now yields are the driver."

The dollar index rose 0.552%, with the euro down 0.64% to $1.1295.

The greenback was on track for its biggest daily percentage gain since Dec. 17.

Economic data showed a gauge of manufacturing for December by Markit dipped to 57.7 from its prior reading of 57.8, but still indicating expansion. November construction spending rose 0.4%, shy of expectations calling for a rise of 0.6%.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.17% versus the greenback at 115.27 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.3482, down 0.35% on the day.

Trading volumes, however, were expected to be thin as London, Europe's main FX trading center, is closed for a market holiday.

In the broader euro zone, manufacturing activity remained resilient as factories took advantage of an easing in supply chain constraints and stocked up on raw materials at a record pace.

Turkey's annual inflation rate surged to 36.1% last month, its highest in the 19 years Tayyip Erdogan has ruled, laying bare the extent of a currency crisis caused by the president's unorthodox interest rate-cutting policies.

The Turkish lira was last trading up 1.7% at 12.960 per dollar, but off an early low of 13.92.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP last fell 1.61% to $46,587.63.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Barbara Lewis and Marguerita Choy)

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