By Stanley White
TOKYO, Dec 30 (Reuters) – The dollar slumped to multi-year lows against many currencies on Wednesday as currency traders looked past a new delay in U.S. stimulus cheques and maintained bets that additional financial aid was still likely.
The greenback hit its weakest level in more than two years against the euro, the Australian and the New Zealand dollars. The greenback also fell to the lowest in more than five years against the Swiss franc and fell broadly against Asian currencies.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blocked immediate consideration of a measure to increase COVID-19 relief payments to $2,000, adding another twist to fractious negotiations over fiscal stimulus.
The dollar has fallen and riskier assets have risen since President Donald Trump signed a coronavirus aid and spending bill on Sunday, because more stimulus for the world’s largest economy reduces demand for the perceived safety of holding the greenback.
While the size of relief payments is still uncertain, many analysts say the dollar is likely to weaken further next year because President-elect Joe Biden is expected to push for even more economic support measures.
“Our weak dollar call remains intact as we move into 2021,” analysts at BBH wrote in a research memo.
“What happens to the greenback … largely depends on how well the United States controls the virus in 2021 as well as the outlook for further fiscal stimulus.”
The dollar fell to $1.2295 per euro EUR=EBS on Wednesday, its weakest since April 2018. Against the Swiss franc CHF=EBS, the dollar touched 0.8815, the weakest since January 2015.
The British pound GBP=D3 rose to $1.3552.
The dollar fell to 103.26 yen JPY=D3.
Low liquidity may have exaggerated some market moves with many investors away for year-end holidays.
A light data calendar is also likely to leave traders with little incentive to take out big positions.
The dollar index =USD against a basket of six major currencies skidded to 89.711, the lowest in more than two years.
Last-minute infighting has cast doubt on some of the details of the U.S. aid package, but many analysts say the U.S. government will keep rolling out fiscal stimulus in some form because a second wave of coronavirus infections is becoming a big threat to the economy.
In addition, many investors are already looking ahead to a new government under Biden when he is sworn in on Jan. 20.
Another negative factor for the greenback is expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low for an extremely long time, many analysts say.
Elsewhere, both the Australian dollar AUD=D3 and the New Zealand dollar NZD=D3 reached their strongest levels in 2 1/2-years. The currencies are considered barometers of risk appetite because of their ties to global commodities.
The onshore yuan CNY=CFXS edged up to 6.5251 per dollar. The Korean won KRW=KFTC and the Malaysian ringgit MYR= also rose amid broad-based dollar selling.
Currency bid prices at 2:11PM (0511 GMT)
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(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Sam Holmes, Stephen Coates and Kim Coghill)
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