Dollar jumps as FBI decision gives Clinton eleventh hour boost
TOKYO/SYDNEY: The dollar jumped on Monday as news that Democrat Hillary Clinton would not face criminal charges related to her use of a private e-mail server gave the US presidential contender an eleventh hour boost before the November 8 election.
The FBI said late on Sunday that it stood by its earlier finding that no criminal charges were warranted against Clinton.
Markets have tended to see Clinton as the status quo candidate, and news favouring her bid often boosts risk appetite, whereas the stance taken by her Republican rival Donald Trump on foreign policy, trade and immigration issues is seen posing potential risks for global growth.
The dollar was up 1.2 percent at 104.255 yen after surging to 104.530 in early trade. It had declined to 102.550 last week as polls showed a tightening US presidential race.
The euro was down 0.6 percent at $1.1077, knocked off a four-week peak of $1.1143 reached on Friday.
"The dollar is being bought back on lessened prospects of a Trump presidency. But so far it is not active buying, as Clinton is likely to maintain a policy that prevents a strong dollar if she is elected, and as economic prospects remain unclear," said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.
"Uncertainty regarding the elections will remain until the last minute, as a significant part of Trump's latest comeback in the polls may not be related to Clinton's e-mail probe."
The US currency also won back ground against the Swiss franc, which has served as a safe-haven along with the yen. The dollar was up 0.8 percent at $0.9757 franc after going as high as $0.9789. It had slid to a five-week low of $0.9680 francs on Friday.
Dealers cautioned against complacency with Clinton only holding a shaky lead in Electoral College forecasts.
"The dollar heads into the presidential elections with the latest FBI verdict favouring Clinton. I don't see much upside for the dollar from current levels, however, as caution is likely to grip the market ahead of the voting," said Kyosuke Suzuki, director of forex at Societe Generale in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, the Mexican peso surged. The US currency was down 1.8 percent at 18.68 Mexican pesos to the dollar after touching 18.56, its weakest since October 26.
The Mexican peso has acted as something of a bellwether of sentiment as Trump's proposed policies are considered to be deeply negative for the country.
The Canadian dollar also edged up against the greenback. A Trump win is expected to negatively affect the loonie as he has vowed to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if elected.
The greenback was down 0.1 percent at C$1.3388 per dollar after reaching an eight-month peak of C$1.3466 on Friday.
Risk-sensitive currencies such as the Australian dollar also gained on the yen, with the Aussie climbing 1 percent to 80.00 yen.
The final NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday showed Clinton holding a four-point lead over Trump. Clinton leads by a slender 1.8 points according to Real Clear Politics' polling average.