Dollar buoyed by U.S. recovery hopes, bitcoin near record $52,640

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By Kevin Buckland

TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar held its ground on Thursday after its first back-to-back gains in two weeks as upbeat data bolstered expectations that the U.S. economy would recover from the coronavirus pandemic faster than most of its peers.

Bitcoin traded just shy of the new record high of $52,640 reached overnight, with its roughly 58% surge this month prompting some analysts to warn that the rally might be unsustainable.

Government stimulus cheques helped U.S. retail sales rebound sharply in January, while industrial output and producer prices data also provided robust upside surprises.

Investors expect a further boost from Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, with the president meeting top labour leaders on Wednesday to drum up support for the plan.

Meanwhile, minutes from the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting last month reinforced the central bank’s willingness to let the economy run hot while keeping monetary settings ultra-accommodative.

“Biden’s stimulus plans, a steep decline in new infections and rapid vaccine rollout leave the U.S. well positioned to recover sooner than most,” Westpac strategists wrote in a client note.

“That will generate periodic bouts of USD upside.”

However, like many analysts, Westpac’s team expects the dollar to decline this year, weighed by the Fed’s relentless money printing.

The dollar index was little changed at 90.943 on Thursday in Asia after strengthening 0.2% overnight and 0.4% on Tuesday.

The gauge has gained about 1% this year, rebounding from an almost 7% slide in 2020 that extended to a 2-1/2-year low of 89.206 in early January.

Westpac recommends fresh dollar index shorts on rallies toward 91.0.

The euro was little changed at $1.20385 after sliding 0.5% overnight, the most in two weeks.

The dollar was almost flat at 105.845 yen, following a pullback Wednesday after reaching a five-month high of 106.225.

Treasury yields have given the dollar a boost in recent days, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note rising as high as 1.333% overnight from around 1.20% at the end of last week. It pulled back in Asia on Thursday to 1.2669%.

“Rising U.S. yields have stopped the dollar from declining for now,” said Osamu Takashima, the Tokyo-based head of G10 FX strategy at Citigroup Global Markets Japan.

“In the longer term, we remain bearish on the U.S. dollar: we expect a risk-on environment globally and under such circumstances we think downward pressure on the U.S. dollar could revive.”

Takashima expect the dollar to rise to as high as 107 yen before slumping to 102 over the next three months.

(Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill)

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