LONDON (Feb 24): The US dollar slipped on Friday and was set for its first week of falls in three, after the new US finance chief poured a little cold water on the "Trumpflation trade" that had taken the greenback to 14-year highs earlier this year.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that any steps that US President Donald Trump's administration takes on policy would probably have only a limited impact this year, though he wants to see tax reform passed before by August.
The comments — made in his first televised interviews since taking office last week — suggested that much work was still needed on key elements of the sweeping tax reform plan, which Mnuchin called his "No. 1 priority".
The US dollar fell on the comments and was trading down 0.2% against a basket of other major currencies on Friday at 100.82, leaving it slightly down on the week.
"Mnuchin's comments were less belligerently reflationary than they could have been, in a dollar strength context, and that probably did much of the damage (to the dollar)," said UBS Wealth Management currency strategist Geoffrey Yu, in London.
"But ultimately outside of the US there is reflation happening and data is looking strong, so perhaps it’s time to just take some dollar longs off the table... We need additional information to sustain (the 'Trumpflation trade')."
The US dollar was also knocked earlier in the week after minutes from the US Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, which were less hawkish than some investors had expected.
The minutes showed many policymakers felt it was appropriate to raise interest rates again "fairly soon", but many saw only a "modest risk" that inflation would increase significantly and that the Fed would "likely have ample time" to respond if price pressures emerged.
"There seem to be two different camps in the reading of those minutes — whether they introduced a more hawkish tone, or a more dovish tone — and it appears the doves are winning that battle," said Bill Northey, chief investment officer for the private client group at US Bank in Helena, Montana.
The euro was off this week's six-week lows at just above US$1.06, lifted by a new alliance between French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and fellow centrist Francois Bayrou, which helped French 10-year government bond yields to their biggest weekly falls in two months.
Digital currency bitcoin hit a record high of US$1,220 in Asian trade on speculation that a bitcoin ETF is set to get approval from the US regulator, before edging back to trade at around US$1,170 by 0835 GMT.