January 12, 2017 / 1:01 AM / 7 months ago

Dollar tumbles to five-week lows as Trump trade loses steam

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar hit its lowest level in five weeks against a basket of currencies on Thursday and was on course for its worst week since November, hit by a loss of confidence in the U.S. reflation trade a day after a news conference by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Speculators had driven the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, to a one-week high Wednesday in anticipation that Trump's first news conference since his Nov. 8 victory would give more detail on new fiscal spending and tax measures to repatriate U.S. corporate capital held overseas.

Instead, the event was dominated by debate over Russian hacking and unsubstantiated claims that he had been caught in a compromising position in Moscow. The dollar index tumbled as much as 0.9 percent to 100.720, its weakest since Dec. 8, after touching 102.950 before the news conference Wednesday.

The index pared losses in afternoon trading and was last down just 0.4 percent at 101.370.

"Yesterday’s press conference failed to disclose any information on tax reform, on fiscal stimulus, whether that’s going to come or not," said Sireen Harajli, currency strategist at Mizuho in New York. "We’re seeing a little bit of that disappointment."

U.S. dollar notes are seen in this November 7, 2016 picture illustration. Picture taken November 7.Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The dollar index had gained 4 percent between Trump's election victory and Wednesday on expectations that his promised policies would boost inflation and encourage the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. The index is on track to fall 0.9 percent this week to mark its worst week since that ended Nov. 4.

The dollar weakened as much as 1.4 percent against the yen to 113.76 yen JPY=, its weakest level in five weeks, while the euro hit its highest in five weeks against the dollar of $1.0684 EUR=. Sterling GBP=D4 hit a six-day high against the dollar of $1.2317, rebounding from a three-month low of $1.2038 touched Wednesday.

The dollar was last down 0.3 percent against the peso at 21.7870 pesos. The peso broke the 22 peso-per-dollar mark for the first time on Wednesday MXN=D2 after Trump said U.S. auto companies would face a high tax for products made south of the border.

Analysts said it was unclear how long the dollar weakness would last.

"For the moment, I would stop short of drawing broader conclusions. I think (Trump) will still implement his policy platform," said Lee Hardman, a currency economist with Japan's MUFG in London.

Reporting by Sam Forgione; Additional reporting by Patrick Graham in London; Editing by Bill Trott and Diane Craft

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