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Is the US Dollar Peaking?

Despite talks of de-dollarization and a significant reduction in US dollars (USD) in world trade and financial transactions, USD remains the reserve currency for global trade and international financial transactions. Like any fiat currency, the relative performance of the dollar depends on several critical drivers, including the health of the US economy, geopolitical risk, and market psychology.


Typically, the US economy is an influential factor for global investors to decide to buy or sell dollars. A strong US economy can lead to investors turning to the dollar as a perceived safe currency that offers the best rate of return for their investments. Since investors often search for the highest yield in a relatively safe market, an increase in investment from global investors translates to a favorable capital account balance, resulting in a strong demand for dollars.


The dollar's performance is also heavily influenced by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. When the central bank raises interest rates, the USD tends to rise in sympathy. On the other hand, when the Fed lowers interest rates, this can lead to a decline in the USD.


Geopolitical and market risks are other factors that can drive investors in and out of USD. In a risk-averse environment, flight-to-safety asset inflows cause the USD to rise. In a risk-taking market environment, outflows can lead to a declining USD.


Since the Jul 2023 low (99.22), USD has been strengthening and getting stronger as risk-averse flows move into the safety of the reserve currency. The Fed's tightening policy to contain inflation has also led to further inflows into the USD at the expense of other foreign currencies.


So, what are the charts saying about the USD?


Since 1985, the dominant trend in the US Dollar Index has been a structural downtrend. However, three significant counter-trend rallies have occurred – late 1997 to 2001, late 2014 to 2017, and late 2020. The first two counter-trend rallies faded near structural resistance.


The Jan 2020 rally from a low of 89.17 subsequently broke out above intermediate-term resistance at 102.16-103.96 (61.8% retracement from 2001-2008 decline and the Jan 2017 and Mar 2020 highs) and 107 (38.2% retracement from the Feb 1985-Mar 2008 decline). The breakout hints at a USD recovery toward 118-118.5/121.21 (50% retracement and Jan 2002 highs).


However, the sharp USD recovery stalled at 114.75 (9/28/22), prompting a sharp correction toward 99.22 (7/18/23). The ability of USD to maintain above pivotal support at 98.94 (61.8% retracement from Jan 2021-Sept 2022 rally) has led to the current Jul 2023 rebound, which nears key resistance at 104.5-106 (38.2% retracement from Sept 2022-Jul 2023 decline and Jan, Mar, and May 2023 highs). A move above resistance and a surge above 107 (50% retracement) would reaffirm the next USD rally toward 109 (61.8% retracement).


On the downside, an overbought condition has developed into the recent USD rally. Failure to follow through with a breakout above 107 warns of consolidation toward initial support at 104.5-106 (Jan/Mar 2023 highs and Sept 2023 breakout) and below 103-104 (50-day and 200-day ma). A convincing breach of the 200-day (103) negates the Sept 2023 breakout and hints at a deep decline toward 100.42-100.68 (Feb/Apr 2023 lows) and 99.22 (7/18/23 reaction low).


Is the recent USD breakout signaling higher USD prices?


Or will an overbought condition coupled with failure to follow through with the Sept 2023 breakout signal a peak in USD and the start of another decline?


Since the directional trends of the USD can influence commodities, bonds, and stocks, investors need to monitor this technical development for clues to pivotal trend changes.


A strong US dollar has impacted stocks, commodities, and bonds. The dollar is overbought, at least from a near-to-intermediate-term perspective. While bonds and stocks (SPX) are trading at oversold levels.


Will a peak in the US dollar and a subsequent decline help stabilize the recent sharp selling in stocks (SPX) and bonds?


Source: Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

Source: Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

Source: Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com


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