(Bloomberg News) The dollar was the best place for investors to be in November, beating returns on worldwide bonds, commodities and stocks as Europe's debt crisis threatened to derail global growth.
The Dollar Index tracking the U.S. currency against six foreign-exchange peers rose 2.9 percent last month, leaving it down less than 1 percent for the year. Even as Treasuries gained 0.7 percent, fixed-income securities around the world lost 0.5 percent, Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data show. The Standard & Poor's GSCI Total Return Index of commodities rose 1.4 percent, and the MSCI All Country World Index of shares fell 2.9 percent with dividends.
"There's been a flight to quality, which means investors are keeping their money in U.S. dollars and Treasuries," said Sean Callow, a Sydney-based senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp., the second-most-accurate foreign-exchange forecaster measured by Bloomberg News. "The U.S. hasn't been a bad bet, whether you're on the safe-haven side or you see signs of life in the economy," he said in a phone interview Nov. 29.
Contagion in Europe's debt markets spread to Italy last month, boosting yields to euro-era record highs, and curbed demand for German bunds. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development this week cited doubts about the survival of Europe's monetary union as the main risk to the world economy.
The 34 OECD nations will grow 1.9 percent this year and 1.6 percent next, the Paris-based organization said in its twice- annual global economic outlook released Nov. 28, down from 2.3 percent and 2.8 percent predicted in May.
To alleviate stresses in the financial system, six central banks led by the Federal Reserve made it cheaper for banks to borrow dollars in emergencies. The premium banks pay to borrow dollars overnight from central banks will fall by half a percentage point to 50 basis points, the Fed said yesterday in a statement in Washington.
The Fed coordinated the move with the European Central Bank and the central banks of Canada, Switzerland, Japan and the U.K., sparking gains in stocks and commodities, and losses in Treasuries and the dollar.
IntercontinentalExchange Inc.'s Dollar Index rebounded from a 3 percent loss in October to 78.388 as of yesterday, and it's up from the low this year of 72.696 in May. It will climb to 80 by year-end, Callow said.
The U.S. currency will trade at $1.35 on Dec. 31 against its 17-nation European counterpart, from $1.3446 yesterday, and 77 versus Japan's currency from 77.62, according to the median estimate of strategist and economists in Bloomberg surveys.
The euro fell 2.97 percent against the dollar in November, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yen advanced 0.71 versus the dollar, even after Japan sold its currency for the third time this year on Oct. 31 and Finance Minister Jun Azumi indicated he may do so again. The Brazilian real was the biggest loser among the 16 most-widely traded currencies, depreciating 5.14 percent.