NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro reached a roughly six-month high against the U.S. dollar on Thursday on greater certainty centrist Emmanuel Macron will win France’s presidential election, along with expectations of further European Central Bank stimulus reduction.
The euro rose to $1.0984, its highest since early November 2016, after centrist Emmanuel Macron, in a Wednesday TV debate with anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen, consolidated his position as the likely winner of France’s presidency.
The removal of that political uncertainty, combined with expectations that the ECB could take a more hawkish tone on stimulus next month, helped boost the euro. The dollar fell against the yen to as low as 112.33 yen after nearly touching a seven-week high of 113.04 yen.
“It’s the high certainty that Macron will actually win the election,” Sebastien Galy, currency strategist at Deutsche Bank in New York, said of the euro’s gains. He said traders were likely taking profits on the dollar’s gains against the yen, causing it to slip from its multi-week peak.
Analysts said the U.S. House of Representatives’ approval of a bill on Thursday to repeal major parts of Obamacare and replace it with a Republican healthcare plan indicated some progress in President Donald Trump’s agenda, but they also noted that the bill was set for a tough fight in the Senate.
For several weeks, capital markets professionals have begun looking to a new environment without ECB stimulus, but the assumption that Macron will win sharpened traders’ focus on higher European yields and a stronger euro as the result of a less stimulative ECB.
“Everybody’s still waiting for (ECB President Mario) Draghi to mention a potential tapering timetable,” said Dean Popplewell, chief currency strategist at Oanda in Toronto.
Investors were awaiting Friday’s monthly U.S. non-farm payrolls report for additional insight into the Fed’s rate trajectory through the end of the year. Economists polled by Reuters expect U.S. employers to have added 185,000 jobs in April, up from 98,000 in March.
Commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars fell as oil prices tumbled. The Aussie dropped to a nearly four-month bottom of $0.7383, while the kiwi hit its lowest since June 2016, $0.6840, as Brent crude oil prices fell to their lowest since November 2016.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was last down 0.5 percent at 98.752 .
Reporting by Sam Forgione; additional reporting by Patrick Graham in London; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli